Robert Saleh | San Francisco 49ers
Organization: Pro Football
Position: Defensive Coordinator
League: National Football League
Hometown: Dearborn, Michigan
Robert Saleh (SAH-lah) enters his 13th NFL season and first season as the 49ers defensive coordinator. He spent the previous three seasons (2014-16) as the linebackers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.In 2016, Saleh’s linebackers helped the Jacksonville defense rank fifth in passing yards allowed (215.3) and sixth in opponent rushing average (3.82). Team captain LB Paul Posluzny started all 16 games at MLB and led the team in tackles for the second consecutive season. According to Jaguars team statistics, LB Telvin Smith registered 118 tackles while starting all 16 games at outside linebacker for the first time in his career. Smith’s 350 career tackles are the most ever by a Jaguars player in his first three NFL seasons.
In 2015, the Jaguars defense allowed 3.68 yards per attempt, the fifth lowest rushing average allowed in the NFL. Posluszny led the Jaguars and ranked fifth in the league with 133 tackles, according to game book statistics, while tying with Smith for the team lead with 13 tackles for loss. According to Jaguars team statistics, Smith registered a career high 128 tackles in 2015.Under Saleh’s guidance, Smith stepped in the starting lineup and ranked third among all rookies with 99 tackles, according to game book statistics, in 2014. Smith led the team with two fumble recoveries while ranking second with nine tackles for loss. After a season-ending injury to Posluszny midway through the year, LB J.T. Thomas stepped in and set a career high in tackles along with two interceptions, two tackles for loss and five passes defensed.
Prior to Jacksonville, Saleh spent three seasons (2011-13) as a defensive quality control coach for the Seattle Seahawks. During his three seasons with the Seahawks, he was responsible for assisting the defensive staff with day-to-day duties with a focus on the linebackers. Working under linebackers coach Ken Norton, Jr., Saleh aided in the development of LB K.J. Wright, LB Bobby Wagner and Super Bowl XLVIII MVP Malcolm Smith.Before joining the Seahawks, Saleh spent six seasons with the Houston Texans, serving as a coaching intern (2005), defensive assistant (2006-08) and assistant linebackers coach (2009-10). In Houston, Saleh oversaw the growth of the Texans linebackers, including AP Defensive Rookie of the Year performances by DeMeco Ryans (2006) and Brian Cushing (2009). In 2009, the Pro Bowl duo of Ryans and Cushing were the only teammates to both rank among the league’s top 10 tacklers, according to game book statistics.
Saleh joined the Texans after three seasons working in the collegiate ranks. He began his career as an offensive assistant/tight ends (2002) and defensive assistant/defensive line (2003) at Michigan State before spending one season (2004) as a defensive assistant/defensive line at Central Michigan and a brief stint (2005) at Georgia as a defensive assistant/linebackers coach.
A native of Dearborn, MI, Saleh attended Northern Michigan University where he started at tight end for four years. Saleh and his wife, Sanaa, have five children: four sons, Adam, Zane, Michael and Sam, and one daughter, Mila.