The San Francisco 49ers suffered a bad loss on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. No, not that loss from a few weeks ago, the 18-15 loss where most people went for other entertainment options like sleeping by the second quarter. Now some are wondering, with the 49ers 1-7, that Kyle Shanahan is on the hot seat, the 49ers are going to fire him, or some other nonsense.
No, no, NO. Don’t even ask, I’m not wasting my time breaking out a heat-o-meter for this. The 49ers are not firing Kyle Shanahan. Not this year.
Let’s once again reiterate some things: The 49ers roster was bad. This was not like Jim Harbaugh inheriting an underachieving roster. Two different coaches tried to do things with Trent Baalke’s picks and got a total of seven wins to show for it. Kyle Shanahan knew this and needed time, hence six year contracts.
Six years. The 49ers have done some stupid things, but they are not going to do that. Not with the way that contract he signed is worded. There is no offset language. That means should the 49ers fire him tomorrow, he can go be a head coach/offensive coordinator somewhere and they owe him the full amount. Firing him on year two of a six year deal would be asinine. Not to mention they paid Chip Kelly and Jim Tomsula to not coach for a year. Not to also mention starting over, after they just pressed the nuclear button would guarantee no one would want to coach in Santa Clara.
Beyond the contract, the 49ers have something else they’d sacrifice: one of the best offensive minds in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan’s offense hasn’t been a problem, C.J. Beathard not pulling the trigger has been a problem (oh, we’ll get to that). Execution has been a problem, but has it been coaching? Maybe. Or maybe it’s a young team that is trying to grow. Sure firing Robert Saleh makes more sense (and may happen, though I doubt it) but firing one of the best offensive play-callers in the league especially when you know the team is rebuilding would be a huge mistake.
Finally, Kyle Shanahan has lost his starting quarterback AND his starting running back. He’s been able to get a top-5 rushing offense in spite of that. C.J. Beathard is a backup quarterback being asked to hold down the offense for almost a full season. If he was a starting quarterback, he’d be starting for a team somewhere else. Losing your starting quarterback is nothing but crippling. Just ask Jim Caldwell. He was coaching the Indianapolis Colts to double digit wins until Peyton Manning injured his neck and was out an entire season. Then the Colts went 2-14 and got the first pick in the draft. They went back to the playoffs the following year (though with Andrew Luck as QB). Garoppolo is no Manning, but losing your starting quarterback hurts. The only one in recent memory to play a full season at a higher level is Matt Cassel and as you might expect, the New England Patriots shipped him off at the first opportunity. Oh yeah, the Patriots missed the playoffs the year Cassel was the starter, too.
Look, losing sucks, but the 49ers are a young team. There aren’t many veterans running around there. They also lost Jimmy Garoppolo who was becoming the heart and soul of the team. They have been snake-bit with injuries and all they want is their players to develop. Yes, the offense‘s failure to execute signifies coaching issues, and maybe Shanahan should hire an offensive coordinator (just wait, one of his position coaches will be an OC soon, he just wants the right one) but this team has asked for patience, the 49ers have given patience. Shanahan is not getting fired. Not this year, and probably not next year.
Besides, if Shanahan is fired, give me the alternative.
That is, assuming the 49ers would be able to find someone. Anyone.