HOUSTON -- Former Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans said Thursday that the opportunity to be the new head coach of the franchise he played for is his "dream job."
"It's a dream job because we can win here," Ryans said on Thursday afternoon with former Texans teammates in attendance. "And we're going to win here by collaborating, working together and building it the right way with the right people."
Ryans becomes the Texans' fourth coach in four seasons and replaces Lovie Smith, who went 3-13-1 in his lone season as head coach.
One of the reasons why Ryans views this as a dream job centers around coaching the team that drafted him in the second round out of Alabama in 2006.
Ryans becomes the fourth coach since 2000 to coach the team by which they were drafted. The others were Gary Kubiak (Broncos from 2015-2016) Mike Munchak (Titans from 2011 to 2013) and Art Shell (Raiders from 1989 to 1994, 2006).
In Ryan's rookie season, he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year after finishing second in the league in tackles (156). His 126 solo tackles were second most for a rookie in NFL history. He earned second-team All-Pro and logged two Pro Bowl selections during his 10-year career with the Texans and Philadelphia Eagles. He played for the Texans for six seasons and is currently the franchise's all-time leader in tackles (479).
Another notable moment during his introductory news conference was that a few former Texans Pro Bowlers who played with Ryans, led by Andre Johnson, Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus, were in attendance.
"It's outstanding. It's my former teammates that are here. It's great to see all you guys here. The work we all put in together here," Ryans said. "It means so much to me just to see you guys here and see your faces."
Ryans became the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator in 2021. In his first season, the 49ers allowed the third-fewest yards per game (310) and fifth-fewest points per game (20.6). In 2022, San Francisco allowed the fewest points (16.8) and yards (300.6) per game along with being tied for the second-most takeaways (30). Ryans' unit helped guide the 49ers to a 13-4 record in the regular season to earn the No. 2 seed before they fell to the Eagles 31-7 in the NFC Championship Game.
Now Ryans returns to where his career started.
"This young man exhibited everything we wanted as far as leadership, football knowledge and led one of the top defenses for the last two years," chairman and CEO Cal McNair said. "And he fits exactly what we're looking forward to leading our team into the future."
Texans general manager Nick Caserio added that hiring Ryans was a "no-brainer."
"What better person to lead this organization, lead this team, lead [our] players than DeMeco Ryans," Caserio said. "So, I think everything that DeMeco exudes as a player, exhibited as a player, he's done as a coach. His leadership is selflessness, his toughness, his team first mindset, his charisma."
The trio of Ryans, Caserio and McNair mentioned the assets which made the job attractive to candidates. The Texans have two first-round draft picks (No. 2 and No. 12 overall) in the 2023 NFL draft and have about $40 million in salary cap space.
"This is a young team; we were on the cusp. We got to add some pieces to what we're doing here, but I'm so excited to get started and get to work with the young guys," Ryans said. "And to build a winning program here with the Texans and I'm fired up. The excitement is real, and I can't wait to get the work to get the coaching."