The NFL will announced coach of the year honors the weekend of the Super Bowl, and the San Francisco 49ers are facing one of the strong candidates this week. Doug Marrone has the Jacksonville Jaguars looking like a Super Bowl contender, and he is one of the favorites to win Coach of the Year, with 9/1 odds, courtesy of Odds Shark. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams) is the favorite at 3/1, and Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eages) is next at 5/1.
In the history of the AP Coach of the Year Award, Jimmy Johnson is the only coach to claim it with a losing record. In 1990, his second year with the Dallas Cowboys saw the team go 7-9. In his debut season, the Cowboys went 1-15 in what was also Troy Aikman’s debut season. Emmitt Smith joined them in 1990, and they quickly began the process that would culminate in back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1992 and 1993.
I bring this up because of Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers can finish no better than 6-10, and I see little chance of him claiming any coach of the year award. Sean McVay, Doug Pederson, and Doug Marrone are the favorites, and at most will split them amongst each other.
But considering the state of the 49ers, I think there is an argument for how good a job Shanahan has done in his first season as a head coach. Wins in four of the past five weeks certainly help, but just keeping this team together and progressing through the season has been a minor miracle. Even when they were 0-9, everybody still seemed to be on the same page.
Expectations were low, but it is easy for people to turn on each other and just look out for themselves. But we have seen a culture building that has kept players together and fighting. We have seen the team emerge with Jimmy Garoppolo, and they are benefiting from sticking it out through the tougher times earlier this season.
Kyle Shanahan won’t win a coach of the year award, but I would not be entirely surprised if he grabbed a random vote in one of these awards. He doesn’t need a vote to justify his hard work and the job he and John Lynch have put into this team, but maybe someone throws him a bone for this season.