DeMeco Ryans cites 49ers' Fred Warner as his model pupil

Cam Inman, The Mercury News on

Published in Football

DeMeco Ryans’ introduction as the Houston Texans coach brought him back to his early days as a 49ers assistant, and, specifically, to his mentorship of linebacker Fred Warner.

That coach-player relationship molded both into the elite of their profession. After all, Ryans went from a 10-year NFL linebacker to an entry-level coach, to becoming a head coach after just two seasons as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator. Warner morphed from a 2018 third-round draft pick into a two-time All-Pro making almost $19 million annually.

Here is how Ryans, in a press conference streamed on the Texans’ website, referenced Warner to depict his ideal coaching method:

“When people say they’re not good enough, that excites me the most. I know what it takes,” Ryans began. “It just takes time, it takes belief, it takes pouring everything you have into a young man, like a Fred Warner, who was a third-round pick.

“No one thought he could play middle linebacker but I saw something in him. I saw a leader. I saw a guy who loved football.

“And I saw a guy who truly just allowed me to coach him. I coached him hard sometimes. It’s a fine line of coaching hard and loving hard. Now to say he’s the best linebacker in the NFL, I pride myself in that.


“But not only that, to see he’s a young man who’s married, has a beautiful wife. He’s doing the right things off the field. Those are the things that excite me about working with young men that I get an opportunity to mold and help them with things they can take further along when they’re done playing.

“We don’t know how long our playing careers are, but, man, if I can implement something into that young man’s life or say something to him so he can take a word when he’s done playing, that’s what excites me the most.”

Warner has been an advocate of Ryans’ for years, and his impending departure hit Warner hard after Sunday’s NFC Championship Game loss in Philadelphia.

“Seeing him was emotional, it was,” Warner said postgame. “It was the first time it hit me that this was the last one with him. We came into this thing together. I owe everything to him. He’s the reason I’m the player I am today. He’s fully deserving of going on to be a head coach.”

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