Jeff Ulbrich had interest in leaving NY Jets but was blocked

Jeff Ulbrich and the 49ers had "mutual interest" before the Jets stepped in

Jeff Ulbrich
Jeff Ulbrich / Al Pereira/GettyImages
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NY Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich has been rising in the coaching ranks in recent years, garnering plenty of attention leaguewide for his work with the Jets' defense. One team that's taken notice is the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers officially promoted defensive pass game specialist Nick Sorenson to fill their vacant defensive coordinator position last week, but before they did so, the team had interest in Ulbrich for the job.

The interest wasn't one-sided, either. The Athletic's Zack Rosenblatt reported on Monday that there was "mutual interest" between Ulbrich and the 49ers in the vacant defensive coordinator position.

The Jets, however, weren't going to let Ulbrich leave. The 49ers never issued a formal interview request because the Jets "made it clear that they were not going to let Ulbrich leave," per Rosenblatt.

Essentially, the Jets informally blocked the 49ers from interviewing Ulbrich. NFL teams are allowed to prevent coaches under contract from interviewing for the same role on another team. That's what the Jets did here.

The NY Jets don't want to lose Jeff Ulbrich for obvious reasons

It's hard to blame Ulbrich for having interest in leaving the Jets for a team like the 49ers. There is no job security in New York beyond this season. If the Jets fail to reach the playoffs, it's likely that everyone will be fired, including Ulbrich.

That isn't the case in San Francisco, where Kyle Shanahan has helped lead one of the most revered and stable coaching staffs in the NFL. There's also the promotion factor to consider.

Two of the last three 49ers defensive coordinators, Robert Saleh and DeMeco Ryans, have received head coach jobs. The 49ers have become one of the premier coaching development factories in the NFL. That's very appealing to a coach like Ulbrich, who has been outspoken about his desire to be a head coach one day.

Ulbrich also has personal ties to the organization. The 47-year-old coach is a Bay Area native who spent his entire 10-year career in the NFL playing for the 49ers.

Ultimately, the 49ers are a much more appealing destination for any coach, especially Ulbrich. Fortunately for the Jets, they were able to block any potential interview from happening, retaining arguably their top assistant in the process.

Ulbrich's defenses have ranked third and fourth in the NFL in yards allowed in each of the last two seasons despite being paired with arguably the worst offense in football. The worst he's done to maximize talent on the defensive side of the ball cannot be overstated.

The Jets lost a few notable coaches to other teams this offseason, but they were able to retain arguably their most important assistant. That's great news for the Jets' defense.

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