Ever since the Detroit Lions made the decision to fire head coach Matt Patricia, we’ve been pretty clear as to who our favorite front-runner for the job is. 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was at the top of our LISTCAST of candidates over the weekend, and I wrote more about why I like him so much earlier in the week.
But I’m just one dumb person with one usually-dumb opinion. Rather than hear me go on and on about what I like about Saleh, I decided to talk to someone who knows him a lot better than I do.
Matt Maiocco has been on the 49ers beat for 26 years, so he’s seen San Francisco at their best and at their worst. He’s seen legends like Steve Mariucci and Jim Harbaugh, and coaching blunders like Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan.
But most importantly, he’s seen just about everything Saleh has done over the past four years to turn the 49ers defense into one of the most intimidating units in the entire NFL. So we peppered him with questions for about 40 minutes to get everything we could possibly want to know about Saleh out of him.
What’s he like as a person? What’s his defensive philosophy? How important is Michigan to him? Who are some of the coaches he’d bring with him (specifically on offense)? Can he adjust or is he rigid?
Maiocco let’s us know why 2020 may be Saleh’s best year of coaching yet, and then—as a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter—we get a bonus question out of him: Is Calvin Johnson a first-ballot Hall of Famer?