SANTA CLARA (KRON) — A lot can change in a year.

That’s certainly true for the San Francisco 49ers and their defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

Around this time last year, questions were raised about Saleh’s job security and his future with the 49ers.

Fast-forward to present time, it’s no secret that Saleh is a huge part of why the Red and Gold are where they’re at. He has been the mastermind behind San Francisco’s dominant defense this season, which is ranked second in the NFL.

Unfortunately, the defense became less dominant due to injuries about halfway through the season.

Nonetheless, Saleh is a genius and it’s kind of scary to think about how much better the Niners would have been this season had they remained healthy.

With a lot of eyes on San Francisco’s defense, organizations are also eyeing Saleh.

The Cleveland Browns interviewed Saleh on Jan. 4 for a head coach position. All this while the 49ers are prepping for their first postseason game of the year against the Minnesota Vikings.

But, Saleh is ready and focused on the now — helping the Niners win the Super Bowl.

Head Coach Kyle Shanahan spoke to reporters on Thursday about his defensive coordinator following their final practice before Saturday’s game.

“It’s good for Saleh to go through it, that’s just how it is… It’s not fun for yourself and it’s definitely worse for your family, but it’s the reality of our business,” Shanahan said. “If you think you’re getting into this business to show everybody how good you are, you are not going to have a very happy life because you’re not in control of that.”

Saleh has been Shanahan’s coordinator the past three seasons. San Francisco ranked among league leaders in nearly every statistical category this season, finishing second in total defense and first against the pass.

Shanahan admires Saleh’s passion and ability to make players better. Saleh has been known to get on his players during animated sideline rants.

“Saleh’s been good he’s always been good. It was never a question for me, I knew how good he was and we all get better too,” Shanahan said. “Saleh’s a great coach and I hope to have him here for a long time, but I also know whether it’s this year, whether it’s next year or whatever, Saleh’s too good and too unique. It’s a matter of time before he’s a head coach.”

Star cornerback Richard Sherman said Saleh deserves much of the credit for the Niners’ dominance.

“He’s infectious. His energy is infectious,” Sherman said. “Saleh’s energy has been fantastic and phenomenal and very consistent week in and week out, even last year. It’s great they’re noticing this year but he’s been like this forever.”

During the 49ers’ bye-week, players were able to rest and focus on health. It was reported this week that DE Dee Ford was back at practice for the first time since he re-injured his hamstring.

Ford, Kwon Alexander and Jaquiski Tartt all practiced for the first time since October, when the 49ers’ defense was the most dominant force in the league.

Which means… Saleh will probably be having a lot of fun on the sidelines while watching his master plans unfold on the field. And, a new hype video will also likely be needed.