Is Robert Saleh getting too much in-game exposure?

Getty Images

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.

37 responses to “Is Robert Saleh getting too much in-game exposure?

  1. This is seriously a problem? Out of all things football, you come up with a defensive coordinator getting more face time than another one? That’s laughable. Saleh is getting camera love because he took this pathetic defense and turned into a legit defense. When everyone wanted him gone, they stuck with him and now it’s paying off. He deserves it. Sorry he hurt your feelings.

  2. Is it really an issue? At least he’s a big contributor to the Niners success. A better question is why during cowboys games does the camera cut to Jerry Jones after every big play? Positive or negative. I’ve always wondered that.

  3. As a steelers fan living in the Bay Area, that 49er defense has been extraordinarily dominant this year led by Robert Saleh which partly explains why the cameras pan to him. He also seems to have good rapport with his players. No one expected the 9er defense to be this dominant let alone really good, 8-1 really good.

  4. Saleh, isn’t head coaching material yet. Yes , the D is very good in SF, but is it Saleh or all the high draft picks they got for being so bad for so long? See Opie from the Bengals if you think Saleh is ready for a HC job next season.

  5. Hey, I dislike the guy as much as I do the rest of the team, but it’s not like he’s running the cameras…

  6. Media is doing it. The guy is a good coach, lethim season. Let me guess he will become a “Hot” candidate soon…..good grief smh.

  7. Forget that nonsense. The fact that he or any other coach needs another human being, apparently on the payroll, to hold their shirt and keep them from running onto the field. Dumbest and most unnecessary job in the history of the universe.

  8. I thought it was a strange remark from Peter King PFT earlier today. I’m assuming he hasn’t watched much of the Niner games. The networks put the camera on him because he’s very expressive in the sideline (DUH) it has nothing to do with “credit” or anything like that. It’s just like when they used to put the cameras on Rob Ryan when he was DC. I’m just surprised Peter King didn’t catch onto that.

    With that, Saleh has done a great job changing up the scheme this year and I disagree with the statement the D didn’t play that well. They kept the team in the game, without them Seahawks easily win. I’m just wondering did people watch the game last night.

  9. besides belichick, who was the last defensive head coach to be consistently successful? with the rules favoring offense and the ever-increasing importance of the QB in today’s game, a defensive head coach seems like a losing approach.

  10. Simply put, His animation is good TV. Pete get more TV time over opposing HC’s for same reason. I trust that future head coaching positions get filled with qualified candidates and not just those that get the most exposure on game day.

  11. Yes it’s his enthusiasm/theatrics but also because the Niner defense has been top 2 the first half of the season. While Ken Norton’s Seattle defense has been in the bottom 10. Not exactly something you want to highlight – “Hey and there’s Ken Norton leader of the 22nd ranked Seattle defense … let’s focus on him for a while”.

    It’s not rocket surgery.

  12. It’s not just this particular guy. I notice that this season, there are far more and far longer sideline shots of both players & coaches. Players sitting on the bench… Coaches standing on the sidelines…coaches reading play sheets…players spitting…while plays are being snapped.
    It’s increasingly annoying.

  13. shayeezy says:
    November 12, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    besides belichick, who was the last defensive head coach to be consistently successful?

    Tony Dungy.
    139 wins 69 losses.
    11 Playoff appearances in 13 years (2 teams). 1 Super Bowl (1-0). 3 AFC-NFC Championship games.

    Pete Carroll.
    130 wins 87 losses 1 tie.
    9 Playoff appearances in 15 years (2 teams). 2 Super Bowls (1-1).

    Mike Tomlin.
    130 wins 70 losses 1 tie.
    8 Playoff appearances in 12 years. 2 Super Bowls (1-1). 3 AFC Championship games.

  14. It’s pretty easy to do a good job with the great drafting and trading Lynch and Sannahan have done for this guy. Five 1st round picks in the D-line via trade,drafts in the first 4 picks,falling into the Bears idiot move of trading up for Trubiski, and making some really good trades. A trained monkey could win with the players this guy’s been given.
    Give credit where credit is due, without Lynch and Shannahan’s excellent work even less people would be able to properly pronounce Saleh

  15. Norton was shown several times last night, he wasn’t spotlighted by the announcers however, and he did not have as much face time as Saleh to be sure, but to say he was invisible, is over stating it a bit.

  16. Of course, the broader question is whether teams will hire anything other than offensive specialists to be head coaches.


    In anything, it’s always going to be the individual that matters. Offense defense, doesn’t matter. It’s always the individual. Take the UFC for example. First there was Royce Gracie and everyone wanted to do Brazilian Ju-Jitsu. Then there was Dan Severn and wrestling was all the rage. Then Vitor Belfort the striker with BJJ. Then Randy Couture the wrestler. Chuck Liddell and Maurice Smith strikers. Mark Coleman and Brock Lesnar wrestlers. And on and on. The one common denominator in these fighters? Warrior Spirit. The one common denominator in NFL coaches? Great coaching.

  17. So you write about it giving him more exposure and legs…interesting… its the art of self propmotion regardless of credentials…thats why so many young HC and GMs fail, they simply are not as prepared as they think they are….

  18. Yes he is! Way, way, way too much exposure. Media is guilty of promoting this guy. Last season was Richard in Dallas. In fact, ESPN kept referring to Wilson as MVP front runner. He’s definitely MVP candidate but come on…stop trying to sway opinions.

  19. KNJ is a garbage DC. If anyone actually believes he is running the show, they are seriously delusional.

  20. Actually if Booger could zip his yapper just a little the game would be more enjoyable. Saleh is doing a nice job with his crew of very high draft picks on the front 7. When he takes a lesser crew and gets success he becomes a legit HC candidate.

  21. Does anyone really think that Shanahan has any involvement with running that defense? Lynch drafted or acquired those players, and those players are themselves quite talented. But Lynch isn’t coaching them. Saleh is coaching them. So while Lynch again deserves credit for finding the parts, he’s not exactly make sure they execute correctly. Saleh is. Maybe Saleh’s reputation is being boosted by how good those individual players are-and that’s something I do not doubt as being true-but he’s the person in charge of one of the best units in football right now. So, no, he doesn’t deserve to be knocked for that.

    I find the suggestion that Kyle Shanahan deserves credit for Saleh’s unit to be confusing. Lynch, maybe a little, considering the fact that he acquired most of the players. But Shanahan is most assuredly an offensive coach. If anything, Kyle Shanahan has the least to do with the defense. The unit that he’s supposed to be brilliant at running-the offense-is the part of the team that’s actually been more of a problem.

  22. I dont care if they show an expressive player or coach. It’s good tv but they show Seleh on every other defensive play and his head is way too shiny for tv.

    One commentator said it already but I have issue on them holding crowd, bench shots whole the play is going to be snapped. Some of us actually want to see the formations for defense and offense because the actual game is important part.

  23. whoa here; lefleur?
    He’s been handed a team with many weapons.
    And by “weapons”, I mean, referees.

  24. Why not? Look what he has accomplished for the 49ers. So handsome and he’s great for television viewers.

  25. shayeezy says:
    November 12, 2019 at 5:59 pm
    besides belichick, who was the last defensive head coach to be consistently successful? with the rules favoring offense and the ever-increasing importance of the QB in today’s game, a defensive head coach seems like a losing approach.


    Pete Carroll? Mike Tomlin? Ron Rivera?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.