INDIANAPOLIS – DeMeco Ryans was a rookie linebacker who emerged as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Mike McDaniel was an offensive assistant for then-Texans coach Gary Kubiak.
Both would emerge as future head coaches, Ryans now with the Texans as a first-time head coach, and McDaniel coming off his first season and a playoff appearance with the Miami Dolphins.
McDaniel has a high degree of belief in his former San Francisco 49ers colleague as the former Pro Bowl selection takes over the Texans’ head coaching position.
“I couldn’t be more confident in an individual in terms of a guy being made for this position of head coach in the National Football League,” McDaniel told KPRC 2 at the NFL scouting combine “DeMeco is a special breed unlike any that I’ve come across in my walks of football life.”
Ryans, 38, was named the NFL Assistant Coach of the Year as the architect of the 49ers’ top-ranked defense.
A former defensive quality control coach and inside linebacker named defensive coordinator in 2021, Ryans is the latest head coach from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree after McDaniel, who was successful in his first year running the Dolphins.
Drafted in the second round out of Alabama, Ryans quickly earned the defensive captain title and earned a nickname that stuck with him to this day: ‘Cap.’
“You’re talking about a guy who, as a 22-year-old, walked into an NFL building and led an entire defense as a captain and really the best player on the defense from Day One,” McDaniel said. “Fast forward to him as a coach. I saw him cutting his teeth as a position coach, really as a position assistant, and then would lead to a position coach. You’re talking about a guy who makes an appearance to the coaching world look easy.”
That’s because of Ryans’ relatability, poise and background as a player. Having that credibility speaks volumes in the locker room.
“Players play for him, players believe in him,” McDaniel said. “He has the disposition to handle the natural turbulence that occurs from this scope. I couldn’t be happier for an individual who’s more deserving, and really, this is a dream of his.
“He felt very connected to the Houston fan base and had always held that in high regard and in high esteem. For him to get that particular on top of that it’s an NFL job, I think it’s a storybook beginning to what will be a very successful career.”
Aaron Wilson is a Texans and NFL reporter for Sports Talk 790.