DeMeco Ryans is officially headed back to Houston.
The San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator has agreed to terms to become the Houston Texans' head coach, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday, per a source. The team has since announced the news.
"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," Ryans said in a statement released by the Texans. "I couldn't be prouder of what we accomplished together, and I will always cherish the relationships I built there. Being the head coach of the Houston Texans is my dream job and my family is thrilled to be back in H-Town. 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 winner and I can't wait to get to work."
The pairing has been in the works since late last week when Ryans emerged as the top candidate for the Texans' head coaching gig.
It's a return to Houston for Ryans, a former linebacker who began his NFL career as a second-round selection by the Texans in 2006. Ryans spent six seasons in Houston, where he met his wife Jamila, who is from the area.
"We are thrilled to welcome DeMeco Ryans as the new head coach of the Houston Texans," Texans owner Cal 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. Congratulations to DeMeco and his family and welcome back to H-Town."
After six years, which included Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, a first-team All-Pro bid, and two Pro Bowls, Ryans finished his playing career with four seasons in Philadelphia.
The 38-year-old got his coaching start in San Francisco as a defensive quality control coach in 2017 when Kyle Shanahan took over the head coaching gig. Ryans worked his way to inside linebackers coach (2018-2020) before taking over as the defensive coordinator in 2021 when Robert Saleh left for the New York Jets' top job.
Under Ryans' leadership, the Niners' defense has been among the top units in the NFL for the past two seasons. San Francisco 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.
The Niners' defensive tenacity, scheme, and players' overwhelming support of Ryans made the DC one of the top candidates in this year's coaching cycle.
Longtime Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who played with Ryans in 2011, expressed his excitement for Houston's new coach.
"You want to reenergize and reignite the incredible Houston fan base, this is a hell of a start!!" Watt tweeted on Tuesday. "Cannot wait to see what Meco does. One of the best teammates & leaders I've ever been around."
As a Houston favorite, his hiring is sure to be met with praise from the locals after back-to-back seasons in which the Texans dismissed their head coach after one year -- David Culley (2021), Lovie Smith (2022). The hope is Ryans can bring stability to a rebuilding franchise he once led as a player.
Coming off a stellar 2022 draft, which included the likes of safety Jalen Pitre, cornerback Derek Stingley, linebacker Christian Harris and running back Dameon Pierce, there is young talent for Ryans to work with, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest question will be at quarterback, a hole the Texans could fill with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 draft.
One of the first tasks for Ryans will be assembling his staff, with the role of offensive coordinator being vital to shepherd a potential rookie signal-caller.