San Francisco 49ers safety Logan Ryan after a playoff win...

San Francisco 49ers safety Logan Ryan after a playoff win against the Green Bay Packers on Jan. 21, 2024. Credit: AP

LAS VEGAS — Kyle Shanahan had a pretty good idea what Logan Ryan was all about. He’d coached against the defensive back numerous times in his career, including in Super Bowl LI when he was offensive coordinator for the Falcons and Ryan was a cornerback for the Patriots, and always came away impressed.

Still, he wanted a second opinion before his 49ers made a push to bring Ryan out to San Francisco after a spate of injuries in the secondary late this season.

So he called someone who would know.

He called Tom Brady.

The retired quarterback spoke glowingly about his teammate in both New England and Tampa Bay and convinced Shanahan to pursue Ryan.

“Brady told me what he thought of him, and Logan has been exactly that,” Shanahan said. “Logan is smart as anything, he understands the scheme, and he’s been a huge add for us in the time we’ve had him.”

Brady won’t get another ring from the endorsement, but Ryan might. In a very short time he’s become a very integral part of the San Francisco defense and on Sunday the former Giants captain will be on the field potentially playing a number of positions — slot corner, strong safety, free safety— against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City in Super Bowl LVIII.

“Somehow,” Ryan told Newsday of Super Bowls, “they seem to find me.”

Before he could help right the 49ers’ ship, though, Ryan had another boat to attend to.

He and his family had a Disney cruise scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend and just before embarking on the vacation he got a call from 49ers GM John Lynch asking if he would be willing to come to San Francisco and help a team that had championship aspirations but had a series of injuries in its secondary.

Ryan had turned down opportunities to work out for other teams as a free agent, mostly because he didn’t want his football career to be a distraction to his home life in Tampa. He would have been “at peace,” he said, if his career had concluded with a stint with the Bucs last season, his 10th in the NFL. But the facts that Lynch, a Hall of Fame safety himself, had made the call personally, that there was only a little over two months at most left in the season, and that he had become a fan of the 49ers’ physicality while watching their season unfold, combined to convince him to head west.

But first, the cruise.

He ran 5Ks during the island disembarkments, lifted weights while on board, and limited himself to one glass of wine per day, but otherwise enjoyed the time with his wife and kids. When they returned to Florida, he took off for California. On Dec. 5 he signed with the 49ers.

And now, they get another adventure together. This time to Las Vegas.

Ryan’s daughter Avery, 8, wasn’t born when he won his first title with the Patriots and was a toddler in noise-canceling headphones when he won his second. His son Otto, 5, wasn’t born for either.

“My kids are so invested,” he said. “They know the roster. They talk to me about the team. They’re rooting for us. Their school is rooting for us. They’re mini-celebrities back home. So it’s fun to play for them, which we all say we do, but to have that moment with them and all the confetti, it’d be cool.”

Ryan reflected on his time in New York, which was about as far from confetti as can be. In two years the team won just 10 games. That was enough to spell the end of the regime that had brought him in, coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman.

“I really didn’t understand that losing brings change,” he said. “I hadn’t lost a lot in my career.”

When Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen came in to replace the regime, one of the first things they did was release Ryan, who had been a staunch supporter of Judge.

Ryan said he had no hard feelings about that decision. “I loved my time in New York,” he said. And he marveled at the talent the Giants had in his position group at the time.

“I was so excited to see how Julian Love played this year, a guy I thought maybe should have stayed there, how he blossomed,” he said of the Pro Bowler for the Seahawks. “Jabrill Peppers, how he played this year. [Xavier] McKinney, how he played this year. Myself, still playing at a pretty high level. All those guys in one safety room? That’s pretty awesome.”

In a matter of weeks, though, they might all be former Giants. McKinney, the last of them left in New York, is due to become a free agent in March.

“That’s how this league works,” Ryan said. “You are in it long enough and you understand you can’t keep it all together. But man, what a great room we had.”

In five regular-season games and two in the playoffs for San Francisco, Ryan has made 21 tackles, but his value, as it was with the Giants, goes beyond the stat sheet.

“He’s helped us out a lot,” cornerback Charvarius Ward said. “He has a lot of experience. We know if the coaches call on him he can come in and play . . .  He knows the playbook like the back of his hand. He’s a real smart guy.”

One thing he hasn’t had to do with the 49ers that he did with the Giants, though, is be a front-and-center leader. While there were 10 players at the podiums on Monday night and 10 available to the media on Tuesday, Ryan was not among them. Instead he was floating around the floor at the Opening Night event. He’s barely quoted and hardly ever asked to speak for the team.

“Just a guy,” he said of his role. “We have a lot of stars, a lot of leaders on this team. We have a lot of guys who have been here — Fred Warner, Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel — who have built this. I was just joining in six or seven weeks ago. So I’ll do my job, hop on, and do whatever they ask me to do. I don’t need the attention, I don’t need the interviews. I think I give a great interview, but I don’t need it.

“Whatever it takes to win,” he added. “That’s really what it’s all about.”


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months