Robert Saleh is not the head coach of the Cleveland Browns today. Instead, he’s preparing for the NFC Championship Game.
He seems OK with that.
Via Scott Bair of NBCSportsBayArea.com, the 49ers defensive coordinator said he’s focusing on the large task in front of him rather than the larger one that isn’t.
“There’s no disappointment,” Saleh said. “I’m very grateful to the Browns for making me part of [their coaching search]. I’m a really big fan of [Browns owner] Jimmy Haslam and what he did and what they’re going to do. They hired the right guy and I think they’re going to do something special. I’m excited to see them progress.”
That’s nice to say. Saleh was far enough along in the process that they wanted to talk to General Manager candidates who aligned with him, suggesting he was close to the top of their pile, before they chose Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski.
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said earlier this week they were “very fortunate” to be able to keep Saleh, and Saleh took that in the spirit intended.
“It’s like a backhanded compliment, right?” Saleh said with a laugh. “No, Kyle has always been a big supporter. He really supports his staff and he is not one to look at a coach and say, ‘I have to get rid of this dude.’ His first instinct is to make you better and help you get better. To understand Kyle and to work with Kyle is really gift that a lot of people should have once in their lives. He strives to make people better, and I think that’s what makes this organization tick.
“Everybody in this organization wants to get better, and that’s why Kyle is so invested in all of his coaches. I do believe him when he says he’s happy, because he has invested in me, so I take that as a compliment.”
While not being a head coach and not making more money might sting temporarily, Saleh has the benefit of being in a more stable organization, which sets him up for better opportunities in the future.