Ryans was named the 2022 Pro Football Writers of America Assistant Coach of the Year. He recently completed his sixth season with the San Francisco 49ers and second as the team's defensive coordinator, helping lead the team to the NFC Championship. He spent the previous three seasons (2018-20) as the 49ers inside linebackers coach, while serving as the team's defensive quality control coach in 2017.
Originally drafted in the second round (33rd overall) by the Houston Texans in the 2006 NFL Draft, Ryans played for Houston (2006-11) and the Philadelphia Eagles (2012-15). He was a team captain for the Texans' 2011 season, a squad that claimed the franchise's inaugural AFC South title and playoff berth. Ryans holds the Texans record for the most tackles by a rookie (156) and currently sits as the second-leading tackler in franchise history (636).
In his second season as defensive coordinator, the 49ers defense ranked first in total defense (300.6 yards/game), total points allowed (277) and points allowed per game (16.3) in the 2022 regular season. San Francisco's defense allowed just 37 red zone trips, the fewest in the league. The 49ers limited explosive plays, allowing the fewest plays of 10-or-more yards (168), while holding opponents to the fourth-fewest yards per play overall (4.98 yards). Additionally, San Francisco allowed the second-fewest first downs (291) and first down yards (4.69 yards) on the season. The defense recorded 20 interceptions on the season, tied for the most in the NFL, while their seven returns of 20-or-more yards tied for second-most. Ryans guided a San Francisco defense that forced three-and-outs on 27.3 percent of their opportunities, fourth-highest in the NFL, while registering 44.0 sacks, tied for 10th in the league.
In his first season as defensive coordinator in 2021, the 49ers defense allowed 310.0 total yards per game, ranking third in the NFL. San Francisco also surrendered the sixth-fewest passing yards per game (206.5). The 49ers saw eight different players record an interception on the season, while forcing 22 fumbles on defense, the most in the NFL and the most in a single season by the 49ers since 1994.
In 2020, Ryans helped the 49ers defense rank fifth in the NFL total yards allowed per game (359.0) and seventh in rush defense (118.9). The previous year, Ryans helped guide San Francisco's second-ranked defense in total yards allowed per game (281.8), the fewest total yards allowed per game by the team since 1997 (250.8). The 49ers defense also ranked first in the NFL in forced fumbles (21) and sixth in takeaways (27).
Over the course of his career in San Francisco, Ryans coached players such as DL Nick Bosa, LB Fred Warner and DB Talanoa Hufanga to career seasons. Under Ryans' leadership, Bosa was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2019), first-team All-Pro honors (2022) and three Pro Bowl selections (2019, 2021, 2022), Warner earned two first-team All-Pro honors (2020, 2022) and two Pro Bowl nods (2020, 2022), while second-year player Hufanga also earned first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl nods this season.
During his 10-year playing career, Ryans was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and PFWA Rookie of the Year in 2006, first-team All-Pro in 2007 and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2009. He appeared in 140 career games (139 starts) throughout his career and registered 970 tackles, 46 passes defensed, 13.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries and seven interceptions.
A native of Bessemer, Ala., Ryans played linebacker at the University of Alabama (2002-05). As a senior, he was a unanimous All-American selection, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and earned first-team All-SEC honors in 2005. Ryans also earned defensive MVP honors in the 2006 Cotton Bowl and was selected as the 2005 Lott Trophy recipient for his combination of athletic excellence and off-field achievements.