Forty-Niners defensive coordinator Robert Saleh nearly went into the furniture business.

This was 2001. Saleh was 22 years old, fresh out of Northern Michigan University, where he played tight end and majored in finance. He got a job at Comerica Bank and prepared to take over the family business, a furniture store in Detroit.

“If you just talk furniture,” Saleh said on a sunny afternoon at the 49ers practice facility, “there are so many different things you have to organize at one time. There’s your warehousing, your employees, your bookkeeping. There’s the sales part.

“Football, no different. You’ve got D-line, linebackers, DBs. You’ve got a playbook. You’ve got breakdowns. You’ve got self-scouting. You’ve got to be very detailed.”

Saleh’s older brother, David, was a financial adviser for Morgan Stanley and worked in the World Trade Center. On 9/11, David was in the South Tower when the plane hit. He escaped.

“That was the ‘aha’ moment for me,” Saleh said. “It gave me an opportunity to reflect on whether or not I was doing the things I wanted to do. My brother, did he get to do things that he really wanted to do? Or did he want to sit in an office and crunch numbers?”

Saleh is of Lebanese decent. He grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, home of the largest concentration of Arabs in the world outside of the Middle East. His dad, Sam, owns the furniture store, a demolition company and a bank.