Pete Golding rocked the college football world on Friday when it was announced that he would be making a lateral move in leaving Alabama to become the next defensive coordinator in Oxford, Miss. It was long speculated that he would be moving on after this season, whether or not it was on his own accord, and Friday's news makes it official.

If you spend much time on Twitter or listen to The Game with Ryan Fowler on Tide 100.9 (M-F 2-6 p.m.), you've probably heard a handful of names come up more than others. One name that seems to be brought up incessantly is former Alabama linebacker and current San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

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That idea is completely unhinged.

Ryans is one of just 32 men that gets to be the defensive coordinator of a National Football League team, and he's doing a better job at it than the other 31. Ryans has been the DC in San Francisco for just two years and has already established himself as top dog in the field.

In his first year leading the Niners' defensive unit, Ryans' squad was third in the NFL in total defense and made it all the way to the NFC Championship game, where they ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Rams despite giving up just 20 points. This season, his team was ranked first in total defense and widely regarded as the most dominant group in the league.

Ryans' defense has sacked the opposing quarterback 31 times this season and has created 13 more turnovers than the offense has given up. The 49ers managed to finish 13-4 despite losing their starting quarterback in the second game of the season and starting a third-string rookie picked last in the 2022 NFL Draft throughout December, the most competitive month of the NFL season.

That doesn't happen without complete and total domination on the defensive side of the ball.

In Ryans' six seasons of coaching in the Bay Area, the 49ers have reached the playoffs three times and the Super Bowl once.

For all those reasons, Ryans is in prime position to become an NFL head coach this offseason, the most coveted job in professional coaching. Five teams already have positions to fill (Arizona, Denver, Houston, Carolina, and Indianapolis), and it's more than possible more will be added to that list before the Niners' season is over. Of the five with current openings, four have requested to interview Ryans.

It would be foolish of him to step down to the college level in a lateral move with his big shot seemingly right around the corner. When you're within reach of your biggest goals, it's generally unwise to change course.

Regardless of the position Ryans holds next season, he's one of the greats in Alabama history. The Bessemer native was a unanimous All-American in 2005 as well as the Lott Trophy winner and SEC Defensive Player of the Year. In the NFL, he won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2006 and played dominantly for a decade in Houston and Philadelphia.

It's always possible there's a reunion with the Tide somewhere in his future, but one thing is certain: Ryans will not be on the sidelines in Tuscaloosa in 2023.

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