Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young is a smart guy with a lot of insightful takes on the state of the San Francisco 49ers. Earlier today, we discussed his thoughts on creating a championship culture, and the lack of discussion he has with Jed York. While I think he is right in that regard, I think he is off base in some other comments he made on one of his always entertaining KNBR interviews.
During the interview, Young mentioned the need to bring in an offensive-minded coach. He had some particularly interesting comments in support if Josh McDaniels. He thinks if McDaniels learned from his mistakes in Denver, he could be in a position to do some good things, particularly coming from New England.
However, just prior to that answer, Young offered his thoughts on why the 49ers need an offensive-minded head coach, specifically. The host was talking about the various candidates and mentioned Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and the questions they have on defense. That led to this comment from Young:
Please don’t bring in a defensive guy into San Francisco. Don’t bring in an offensive guy to Pittsburgh. Don’t bring in an offensive guy to Chicago. It’s just, there’s places that have a heritage and it just doesn’t resonate. And so please don’t tell me we have this tremendous defensive mind that we’re going to bring into San Francisco. I just…Say what you want to say about Jim Harbaugh when he was an offensive innovator and a great offensive coach, I loved that. I remember being on the radio being ‘hallelujah’ we’ve got somebody with what we’ve done in the past and who I think the 49ers kinda need to be.
I’ve seen people tweet and comment about the need for an offensive coach, and in some ways, I can see the argument for it. The NFL has been pushing offense with its rule changes, and innovations seem to regularly happen more on offense than defense. If you want to keep up with that, it makes sense to have a bright offensive mind.
However, the notion that you don’t bring a defensive guy to San Francisco or an offensive guy to Pittsburgh or Chicago does not strike me as a productive approach to a coaching search. I do get the history of the 49ers dating back to Bill Walsh. Of course, someone could also ask Young about George Seifert. I’m guessing he figures Seifert was part of the Walsh tree so it’s different, but he was a defensive coach throughout his career. He brought in the right minds on offense to offset what he did not know, but defense was where he came from.
The 49ers desperately need to address the quarterback position, and an offensive head coach could very well be the best choice for that. However, that does not preclude them from hiring a defensive coach. Now, you could certainly point to the fact that seemingly the best candidates this year are offensive-minded coaches. Josh McDaniels, Kyle Shanahan, and Sean McVay are each incredibly intriguing options for the head coach role. Seemingly more so than a Vance Joseph or Sean McDermott. But I would hope an organization would not preclude a head coach more experienced on one side of the ball just because that’s not how the 49ers were first built 37 years ago.
I think an offensive-minded head coach probably does make more sense this year. Just not for the reason Steve Young provided.