49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has become a star of sorts this season, thanks to his enthusiastic in-game reactions to great plays from his much-improved group of players. As Peter King pointed out on Tuesday’s PFT Live, Saleh perhaps has become too much of a star.
King takes issue with the extent to which the cameras continue to find Saleh this season, giving him excessive public credit for a team that ultimately is led by coach Kyle Shanahan and G.M. John Lynch.
And it’s one thing for Saleh to be shown during a dominant performance by his team. But last night’s defensive showing from the 49ers was a far cry from the ’85 Bears. The Seahawks’ defensive played just as well, but Seattle defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., however, got little or no face time.
Norton was so inconspicuous that, at one point during the game, one of the spectators in the PFT Barn said while an image of the Seahawks’ sideline was being displaying, “Hey, is that Ken Norton? What’s his job there?”
The camera’s love of Saleh will benefit him when January rolls around. It’s given him a way to stand out among the pack of coaching candidates for the it’ll-be-here-sooner-than-you-know-it hiring cycle, and it guarantees that he’ll be on the list for one or more of the teams that will be looking for new coaches.
But if he is, Norton should be, too. It easily can be argued that Norton has done more with less talent than Saleh has done.
Of course, the broader question is whether teams will hire anything other than offensive specialists to be head coaches. Dolphins coach Brian Flores and Broncos coach Vic Fangio defied that trend in 2019; however, with Packers coach Matt LaFleur winning eight of 10 games with a team that had missed the playoffs in two straight seasons, the ongoing quest for offensive coordinators could diminish whatever buzz Saleh, Norton, and other defensive coaches (like Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen) can muster.