San Francisco 49ers defensive end Samson Ebukam (56) talks with defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Former Texans linebacker and current San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has had a rather busy week, and that’s not counting preparation for Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

As one of the hot up-and-coming coaches, Ryans has been interviewing for vacant jobs around the NFL. He has one more interview Friday when he meets with his old team, the Texans, to discuss their head coach opening. It will conclude a whirlwind week in which Ryans has already interviewed with the Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos.

There is some intrigue with Ryans returning to the team that drafted him 33rd overall during the 2006 NFL Draft and he developed into a standout linebacker. But both sides have several options, which complicates a potential reunion.

Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero () takes part in drills during the NFL football team’s training camp Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, at the Broncos’ headquarters in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

It’s little secret the Texans covet former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton the most, but they will have to stand in line with the Broncos, Cardinals and Carolina Panthers for his services. The Texans and Payton have already met.

It may come as a surprise but the Texans may have the best chance in the competition for the ex-New Orleans coach because they have the draft capital and salary cap space to be attractive to both the Saints and Payton.

While Payton is currently working as an analyst for Fox, he remains under contract with New Orleans through the 2024 season and the Saints are believed to be asking for a first-round draft pick as compensation from the team that hires him. The Texans have the No.2 overall pick and the Cleveland Browns No.12 pick (as a result of the Deshaun Watson trade).

It doesn’t seem practical to give up the second pick for Payton, but the Browns’ pick could still land the coveted coach.

Initially, the prevailing thought was Payton would not take a bid by the Texans seriously considering the instability of the franchise, but when asked earlier this week on Colin Cowherd’s show if he would really consider the Texans, Payton responded, “absolutely.”

Should the Texans not land Payton, general manager Nick Caserio and CEO Cal McNair seem to be busy preparing a backup plan. So far, they have interviewed Los Angeles Rams assistant head coach/tight ends coach Thomas Brown, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen and Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. They also have an interview scheduled for Sunday with New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka.

What is interesting about this pool of candidates is the Texans have gone above and beyond the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which mandates that at least one of the candidates must be a minority, by interviewing Brown and Evero along with Friday’s expected meeting with Ryans. All three candidates are African American.

The Texans’ last three coaches have African American, Romeo Crennel (interim), Davide Culley and Lovie Smith. The team has come under scrutiny because Culley and Smith were both fired after one year on the job.