The San Francisco 49ers have had a lot of progress in their two years under head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. There, of course, is just one problem: they haven’t won many games. The duo preached patience when they arrived in the facility and asked for fans to not lose their lunch the first year the team fell below .500. In their second year, some thought the 49ers could make a playoff push. Injuries, notably the Jimmy Garoppolo ACL injury, put the kibosh on that.
So now it’s 2019 and Shanahan is entering the third year of his six-year contract. How safe is he? Well according to NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus, his job security is 28th in the league. Shanahan is listed at the tail end of the “seat perhaps warmer than preferred” tier. After Shanahan is the “danger” tier or the four coaches that are destined to get their pink slips in 2019, those four are Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions), Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars), Pat Shurmur (New York Giants), and Jay Gruden (Washington).
Here’s what Hanzus said about the ranking:
The 49ers really want Shanahan to be their answer to Sean McVay, but sooner or later, the organization is going to need to see some results. The Niners are 10-22 in Shanahan’s first two seasons in the big chair, and you wonder how tempted ownership will be to move on from GM John Lynch and Shanahan if San Francisco doesn’t make its charge in 2019. Having Jimmy Garoppolo on the field for 16 games for the first time in his Niners tenure would be a huge help ( probably), and the Niners have talent on both sides of the ball to make the leap. They just have to, you know, do it already.
The 2018 campaign was disappointing, and the 49ers are running out of excuses to use in 2019, but let’s be realistic: Kyle Shanahan is probably in the teens. Firing Shanahan in his third year makes little financial sense for one thing; the 49ers have signed him and Lynch to dual six-year contracts where there is no offset language. That means they could get fired tomorrow and the 49ers would keep paying them the remainder of the contract even if they got a second job that same day.
Names like the Buffalo Bills’ Sean McDermott (12), and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin (10) are ahead of Shanahan which is rather odd. McDermott’s team took a step back in 2018 and didn’t have near the freak accidents the 49ers had. Tomlin had that whole Antonio Brown/Mr. Big Chest thing on his resume. Tomlin also signed a one-year extension with the Steelers which doesn’t sound like Pittsburgh is too confident. Then again, Tomlin could not be retained at the end of the year.
Jon Gruden (Oakland Raiders) is ranked fourth for much of the same reasons I think Kyle Shanahan should be ranked higher. The difference being the Raiders gave Gruden the equivalent of three Hawaiian islands to get him back to coaching. The same theory on Gruden can be applied to Shanahan.
I’ve said if the 49ers go 8-8 it’s a success, anything better is gravy. I do have them going 9-7 for 2019 with the disclaimer of one more year and a draft they are going to be really, really good. That defensive line could be the best in football for 2020.
Roster turnovers don’t happen in one, two, even three years. Shanahan had to gut and fix the roster left by Trent Baalke, and that takes time. Unless the 49ers ran the table in reverse, Shanahan isn’t going anywhere. For the 49ers to play that bad would have to require some supernatural intervention—they cant’ be that bad with the roster constructed. That said, some coaches under him could get shown the door if the 49ers go anywhere under the neighborhood of seven wins. If injuries pile up, there could be some looks at the practice structure and this new strength and conditioning staff as well, since the latter was meant to fix that very issue.
Where do you see Shanahan on this list? Is his job less safe than it appears?
[Pat’s note: If you’re curious the safest job is Bill Belichick’s (New England Patriots), but that’s a bit obvious]