San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans during an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans during an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

In a move that seemed hard to imagine just two weeks ago, the Texans have hired their former All-Pro linebacker and current San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans as the team’s new head coach.

“Being the head coach of the Houston Texans is my dream job and my family is thrilled to be back in H-Town,” Ryans said. “I have been around the game of football my entire life and I’ve always had a natural ability to lead others.

“I know what it takes to win and be successful in this league as both a player and coach. We’re going to build a program filled with players who have a special work ethic and relentless mindset. I understand the responsibility I have to this organization and to the fans of Houston to build a winner, and I can’t wait to get to work.”

Houston Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans (59) after an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Ryans, who has been one of the hottest names during this hiring cycle, had a second interview with the Texans early Tuesday. Within hours of that interview with team CEO Cal McNair and general manager Nick Caserio, word began to leak that a deal was done between the two sides.

The Texans initially met with Ryans nearly two weeks ago, but were unable to hire him until the 49ers were out of the playoffs. Their run ended against the Eagles during the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

“We are thrilled to welcome DeMeco Ryans as the new head coach of the Houston Texans,” McNair said in a statement. ‘For so many reasons, DeMeco is everything we are looking for in a leader and coach for our organization. He has a proven track record for developing high-quality players and constantly innovated his defensive scheme over the last six seasons in San Francisco.

“We started this process with the goal of finding someone our fans and city can be proud of, and we’ve done just that. While we received a lot of incredible feedback and support for DeMeco from different people, it was our discussions with him and his vision for our football team that made him the right coach to lead us as we continue to evolve as an organization.”

Ryans replaces Lovie Smith, who was fired after one season and a 3-13-1 record. Ryans comes aboard at a rather tumultuous time with the Texans firing consecutive African American coaches after just one season, and with the franchise not having a winning season since 2019.

But if there is a hire who can energize the Texans fan base and deliver hope, it seems to be Ryans. The 38-year-old former star linebacker for the Texans is a throwback to some of the Texans better days, and his defenses with the 49ers the last two years have been among the elite in the NFL.

The 49ers ended the 2022 regular season as the NFL’s top-ranked defense, finishing No. 1 in yards allowed, No. 1 in points allowed, No. 1 in fewest big plays allowed, No. 2 rush yards allowed, No. 2 in turnovers forced and No. 4 in yards per play.

Ryans, a second-round pick of the Texans in 2006, spent six seasons in Houston before he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. During his tenure with the Texans, he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year, he was a first-team All-Pro and a two-time Pro Bowl player.

Once his playing days were over, he joined former Texans assistant coach Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.

“I’d like to first thank the San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch for six incredible seasons where I grew as a coach and a man,” said Ryans. “I couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished together, and I will always cherish the relationships I built there.”