The San Francisco 49ers have two years under Kyle Shanahan and it’s an understatement to say their 2018 was a disappointment. Injuries, blown leads, and more injuries, fans understand why the 49ers went into a down like they did but the team is running out of excuses.
That said, this was meant to be a long process, hence the six-year deal. Anyone who saw that roster before John Lynch and Shanahan arrived knew this wouldn’t be a swift turnover. We already talked about how Kyle Shanahan ranks as a head coach on his own, and now Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport did his rankings of the NFL coaching staffs. Shanahan’s group is ranked at 17th which is pretty much middle of the road. Here’s what he had to say about the ranking:
It may seem odd that a staff that has won just 10 games over two seasons is ranked this highly.
But this is a testament to how good of an offensive coach I’m convinced Kyle Shanahan is.
For most of Shanahan’s first campaign, the San Francisco 49ers had no quarterback. They acquired one in Jimmy Garoppolo, handed him a fat extension after a hot streak to close the 2017 campaign and then watched him tear his ACL three games into last season.
It’s been a theme with Shanahan’s 49ers—the team’s been hit as hard by injuries as any over the past two years. By the end of the 2018 season, San Francisco was rolling out undrafted rookie Nick Mullens under center—and competing.
Shanahan made the most of what he had, finishing as a top-10 play-caller, per Head Coach Ranking.
This year, Garoppolo should be healthy, and Saleh’s defense will feature five first-round picks with the addition of rookie Nick Bosa and veteran Dee Ford.
The breakout so many expected a year ago may just have been tardy.
There’s a big thing riding on the six-year contracts if the 49ers can do well in the next year or two, and that’s evidence that there are a lot of situations where coaches can’t turn things around in one season. If the 49ers find themselves in the playoff hunt the next couple of years, it will be something front offices may look at when hiring (or firing) a coach. Not all new NFL coaching staffs can be like Jim Harbaugh’s, some need a lot of work and multiple seasons of mediocrity to get anywhere. There’s historic proof already (look to Bill Walsh’s first couple of years), but if Shanahan does well, it’s modern evidence for owners and front offices to point at when making decisions.
As far as being middle of the group at 17th, I tend to agree. Yes, the 49ers were 4-12, but Shanahan was keeping the group in contention using both a UDFA quarterback and a UFDA running back. There hasn’t been much criticism on the play calling itself either, it’s been solid. Furthermore, the 49ers had nothing to play for as they hit the halfway mark, yet Shanahan was able to keep the team competitive week after week. The fact he’s been able to keep them motivated during a losing season sometimes seems overlooked in favor of Shanahan’s genius as a play caller.
As we said, the 49ers are running out of excuses. Year 3 will give us a good idea of what this coaching staff is. If we see the same little to no progress through another season, some changes will be made, and many will be wondering how long Shanahan will have a job.