The Texans are making a key hire, adding highly regarded former San Francisco 49ers chief of staff Nick Kray as chief of staff under new coach DeMeco Ryans, according to league sources
Kray was named 49ers chief of staff two years ago after spending previous four seasons as administrative assistant to head coach Kyle Shanahan. He overlapped every year with Ryans, the former 49ers defensive coordinator, inside linebackers and defensive quality control coach, and played a valuable role behind the scenes assisting Shanahan, staff and players.
Kray called “DJ Kray,” at times led the 49ers out of the tunnel musically with a large boom box hoisted on his shoulders to set a fun, swaggy vibe for game entrances and during practice sessions. It became an extremely popular staple for the 49ers’ players, coaches and fans. Specifically. it was the Bumpboxx variety.
Kray has an extensive operations and coaching background having worked at North Carolina State, Yale, Villanova and at Eastern Illinois, his alma mater where he coached defensive ends and was a defensive quality control coach.
At North Carolina State, Kray was the assistant director of football operations before joining the 49ers. He was director of football and team development at Ball State University.
At Villanova, he was and offensive and special teams assistant. He was a director of football operations at Yale.
Kray was a team captain at Eastern Illinois where he played defensive end and was a part of two Ohio Valley Conference championship teams and three Football Championship Subdivision playoff teams.
Cray’s father’s first cousin is former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan’s father.
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.
Texans interview Matt Burke, Marquand Manuel
The Texans have finished interviews with Arizona Cardinals defensive line coach Matt Burke and New York Jets safeties coach Marquand Manuel for their defensive coordinator job, according to league sources.
A former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator, Burke coached former Texans Pro Bowl defensive end J.J. Watt in his final NFL season before he retired.
Burke has also coached for the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles, holding the title of run game coordinator and defensive line coach with the Eagles. He has previous stints with the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans, Harvard and Boston College. He played safety at Dartmouth.
Burke coached the Dolphins’ linebackers before being promoted to defensive coordinator. The Dolphins improved to 16 in total defense and 14th in rushing defense in his first season as defensive coordinator in 2017. Xavien Howard was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2018 as he intercepted seven passes.
Manuel, 43, is a former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator.
A former University of Florida standout defensive back and Bengals sixth-round draft pick, Manuel played in the NFL for eight seasons. He has coached for the Seattle Seahawks, Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Jets.
He was secondary coach for the Eagles, secondary coach-senior defensive assistant with the Eagles before being promoted to defensive coordinator as they ranked 10th in scoring defense, ninth in total defense, ninth in rushing defense and fifth in red-zone defense in his first season as coordinator in 2017.
The Texans also requested an interview previously with Chris Harris, the former Washington Commanders secondary coach, hired and announced by Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel as defensive passing game coordinator-cornerbacks coach Tuesday.
The Texans had interest in 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, but sources emphasized that Kocurek will remain with the 49ers working under new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Kocurek, a Texas Tech graduate and former NFL defensive lineman, could potentially receive an upgraded salary and/or job title.
The Texans also have had interest in 49ers defensive passing game specialist and secondary coach Cory Undlin, a former Detroit Lions defensive coordinator,, according to sources, for a potential assistant coach role. Undlin’s contract has expired with the 49ers, so he can leave without being promoted to a coordinator role.
Undlin, 51, was previously a defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions under former coach Matt Patricia before the staff was fired after the 2020 season. He has been an assistant coach for the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, Lions and 49ers.
Undlin earned Super Bowl rings with the Patriots as a defensive assistant in 2004 and with the Eagles in 2017 as a defensive backs coach.
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790