DeMeco Ryans has been through this before. He started his career with the Houston Texans playing in a 4-3 system where he became an immediate star winning the 2006 rookie of the year award. He would go on to make 2 Pro Bowls playing in that system.
After his second Pro Bowl in 2009, Ryans injured his achilles in 2010 and missed 10 games of the 2010 season. The following year, the Texans hired Wade Phillips to install the 3-4 and Ryans was clearly not the same player.
But why? Certainly the scheme change could be one reason, but also being less than a year removed from a major achilles injury had to play a factor as well. Ryans spoke this week and said the 3-4 is a scheme he can and has had success in.
"There's a big perception that ‘DeMeco doesn't fit in a 3-4,' whatever," said Ryans. "I played in that defense, I played with the Texans in the 3-4 defense when we were the number one, number two defense in the league, so if I didn't fit in there then we wouldn't have been that highly ranked. It's all about being versatile. As a linebacker, you have to be versatile, 4-3, 3-4. Whatever it is that this coaching staff is looking for me to do, I'm willing to do that. I've done both, so I'm open to whatever it is."
Of course, all 3-4 defenses are not made the same and as Ryans pointed out, the Wade Phillips version called for only one true linebacker on the field on passing downs. So as Ryans was taken out in favor in Bruan Cushing in those situations, it only further fueled the speculation that he didn't fit in the scheme.
Ryans says that in the end, he's putting his trust in Chip Kelly to get him in a position to be successful.
"I'm doing whatever these coaches want me to do," Ryans said. "I know Chip's going to put us in the best position to win. So whatever that position is for me, whatever my role is for this team, that's what I'm here to do."