The Super Bowl is less than 48 hours old, which means the last of the head coaching hires can become official. The Detroit Lions announced the hiring of New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on Monday, and the Indianapolis Colts announced the hiring of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on Tuesday.
The latter announcement comes with a fitting bit of timing. A year ago today, the San Francisco 49ers announced the hiring of then Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as their new head coach. When the 49ers launched their coaching search in early January, McDaniels was the first candidate connected to the team. The next morning, Tom Cable, Anthony Lynn, Doug Marrone, and Vance Joseph were all mentioned in connection with the job. It was later that afternoon that we heard Kyle Shanahan’s name officially connected to the 49ers.
15 days later, McDaniels withdrew his name from consideration, opting to stick with the Patriots for one more year. At the time, that left Shanahan and Cable as the two options for the 49ers. Needless to say, there was considerable concern that the 49ers would end up hiring Cable. Fortunately, they did not, and Shanahan ended up with the job.
Things have worked out pretty well thus far for the 49ers. It is a fascinating what-if to consider how things might have played out with McDaniels instead of Shanahan. John Lynch had contacted Shanahan about the GM job, but if McDaniels had the job, would we instead see Terry McDonough or George Paton in the GM job? The what-ifs are all over the place given how Shanahan and Lynch ended up paired together.
Beyond just the coach/GM pairing, what about Jimmy Garoppolo? Would Bill Belichick have been willing to make the same deal with McDaniels and his GM as he did with Shanahan and Lynch? If the situation played out the same way, my guess is yes given the opposite conference and helping get his former assistant set up. But, we’ll never know for sure.