If you didn’t know about the San Francisco 49ers (and you’re reading a 49ers blog, so I’d hope so), now you do, thanks to that prime time shellacking they gave to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. The 49ers 2019 season has been a culmination of two prior years of losing, frustration, and, most important: patience.
The 49ers were Peter King’s lead in his Football Morning in America column Monday, and he started things off with a conversation he had with Kyle Shanahan where Shanahan said he was happy where he was at:
“That’s why I’m happy where I’m at—it’s the organization we have,” he [Shanahan] said. “We went through some tough times in our first two years, especially starting 0-9. I think the next year was 1-7. When you start that way, it’s very hard for a place not to splinter. That’s what was so different here in our first two years. Going 0-9 and finishing 6-10 helped finish with some momentum. Last year, never once throughout the year did you ever feel like the defense was against the offense or vice versa. Never once did I have an owner crushing me with, ‘Hey, we gotta change this guy.’ I mean, everyone here really just believed in each other. That was really tested with some of the times we went through but I think that was the neatest thing about it. We knew we had the right people around. We just had to get a couple difference-makers and stay healthy.”
Ahhh stability, how I’ve missed you.
For some reason, after all the Jim Harbaugh drama with Trent Baalke in the front office, I’m shivering at the thought of there being another report of trading a coach or there being friction in the front office.
The 49ers did this right. They gave Shanahan and John Lynch the time they needed to build their roster and turn things around, and Shanahan is true to his word on what it takes. In fact, the 49ers are going to be a blueprint going forward on one and done coaches. You might see not just a systematic copy of offensive schemes in the NFL to match Shanahan, but something is failing organizations try to do what the 49ers did. Things like hiring a GM and a head coach and making the relationship symbiotic rather than hierarchical, or giving a head coach more than a year to turn things around with a franchise. There’s a lot the league can take.
The thing also, this approach does is outlined by Shanahan also: the team went through a period of losing. The defense and offense picked each other up as they were getting beat down, and no one pointed the finger at the other. A lot of this is the character Lynch and Shanahan have brought into the locker room, and a lot of this is sheer relationship building/bonding with teammates. Now they got each others’ backs.
The stability may have trickled down to the roster, as well. They (the players) knew their coach wasn’t going anywhere, they knew the boss (John Lynch) wasn’t going anywhere, so it was one less thing to worry about. I can’t speak for everyone—or anyone for that matter— but I can say in the working world when I don’t know what will happen to my boss or upper management, it winds up making my work dysfunctional.
King did make one more distinction I’ll add here:
All opponents can be beaten. All opponents we respect. We can find something in everyone we play to exploit. Who does that sound like? “I’ve never met a coach who reminds me of Bill Belichick as much as Kyle,” said former Patriots and Falcons front-office man Scott Pioli, who has worked with both.
Hoo boy. Let’s see how 2019 turns out.