Browns interview 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh

Saleh’s D held Browns to season-low yards and points in 31-3 pummeling Oct. 7

Daryl Ruiter
January 04, 2020 - 4:52 pm
Robert Saleh San Francisco 49ers

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Browns officials continued their road trip Saturday by traveling to San Francisco to speak with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Under Saleh, the 49ers, who won their first divisional title since 2012 and hold the top seed in the NFC this January, have been transformed into one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.

In a 31-3 loss at San Francisco on Oct. 7, Saleh’s defense limited to the Browns to a season-low 180 yards of total offense and 46 offensive snaps. Baker Mayfield completed just 8 of 22 passes for 100 yards with two interceptions. He was sacked four times. The 49ers, who forced a total of 27 takeaways in 2019, also forced three fumbles, recovering two of them in the victory.

San Francisco boasted the top pass defense in the league allowing 169.2 yards per game and they ranked second in total defense with 281.8 yards allowed per game in 2019. They tied for first in yards allowed per play (4.7) and ranked fifth overall with 48 sacks. 

Saleh, 40, is the fourth candidate to interview to replace Freddie Kitchens, fired after a 33-23 loss in the season finale to the Bengals Dec. 29 dropping the Browns to a disappointing 6-10 finish.

Saleh was a defensive quality control coach with the Super Bowl XLVII champion Seattle Seahawks and the famous “Legion of Boom” from 2011-2013. He moved to Jacksonville from 2014-2016 where he served as the Jaguars linebackers coach.

Saleh’s coaching career began in 2002 at Michigan State as a defensive assistant for two years before moving on to Central Michigan.

The Houston Texans hired Saleh as a defensive intern in 2005. He was promoted to defensive quality control coach from 2006-2008 and assistant linebacker coach for the Texans from 2009-2010 before joining Seattle’s staff in 2011.

Former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman interviewed Thursday and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy interviewed Friday.

The Browns will interview Bills offensive coordinator and former Browns OC under Eric Mangini from 2009-2010 Brian Daboll Sunday in Buffalo. Interviews with Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will follow Wild Card weekend next week.

Cleveland’s 2020 coaching search is being conducted by owner Jimmy Haslam along with executive vice president JW Johnson, chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and vice president of football administration Chris Cooper.

The Browns, who intend to hire their head coach before the general manager, are in search of their 10th full-time head coach since returning to the NFL in 1999 and the fifth under owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, who bought the club in 2012.