For the first time in more than 20 years, the San Francisco 49ers signed a head coach to a second contract.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news Monday that head coach Kyle Shanahan agreed to a six-year extension. Shanahan originally inked a six-year deal in 2017, but this new extension takes effect immediately, nullifying the final three years of first contract, and will run through the 2025 season.
This was absolutely the right decision for the franchise. The 49ers have lacked stability this century, with Shanny being the ninth head coach in the last 18 years.
The Niners officially hired Shanahan the day after his Atlanta Falcons choked away the 2017 Super Bowl, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of that Falcons team, and still takes blame to this day for Atlanta blowing a 28-3 lead.
Still, Shanahan was widely regarded as one of the best offensive minds in the NFL, and among the best play callers in the league. More importantly, Shanahan provided something we Niner fans hadn’t had since Jim Harbaugh took over in 2011: hope.
After suffering through back-to-back years with Jim Tomsula, and then Chip Kelly running the sidelines, San Francisco was considered one of the worst franchises in football. With outgoing general manager Trent Baalke leaving the cupboard bare, Shanahan teamed up with current GM to revamp everything about the team.
There wasn’t many talented pieces in place, so the new regime came in had to turnover basically the entire roster. The 49ers spent big in free agency to bring in veterans to help with the transition, including: Kyle Juszczyk, Robbie Gould, Pierre Garcon, Malcolm Smith and QB Brian Hoyer.
No one expected much from the 2017 team, but we saw a bit of the culture change happening early in the season. San Francisco was one of the bottom teams in the league in terms of talent, but the team hung tough early. After a blowout loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 1, the Niners lost their next five games by a combined 13 points.
Hoyer lost his starting job to rookie C.J. Bethard after an injury forced him out of a Week 6 game in Washington, and the search for a long-term solution began.
Because of Shanahan’s relationship with QB Kirk Cousins in Washington, several reports indicated that the 49ers would pursue Cousins in free agency after the season. That changed after a Week 8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Word broke that Shanahan and Lynch had reached a deal with the New England Patriots to acquire QB Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round pick. Garoppolo made his on-field debut in relief, coming in to throw a late touchdown pass against the Seattle Seahawks, and the pessimism began to shift to optimism.
Shanahan showed what he could do with a competent quarterback, as the 49ers won their final five regular season games, giving us something to look forward to in 2018. When Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 season, the 49ers’ season torpedoed. But, the one thing that stood out was how hard the team played during a 4-12 season.
San Francisco hit the jackpot in the 2019 NFL Draft, getting stud defensive lineman Nick Bosa second overall. With Lynch and Shanahan adding quality young pieces over 2017 and 2018, the stage was set the for the team to make the leap to postseason contention.
With a healthy Garoppolo, and some of the younger players starting to hit their stride, many pundits believed the 49ers would challenge for a playoff spot in 2019. The Niners blew those expectations out of the water.
Shanahan’s play calling genius was on full-display last season. San Francisco’s offense finished second in rushing offense, and fourth in total yards per game. The team went 13-3 —and after two blowout playoff wins— came within minutes of winning the Super Bowl.
I have seen, read, and heard the criticism of Shanahan, but I don’t care. We have had so many nightmare coaches over the last 18 years, that I am thrilled to have someone who I am confident will help lead us to sixth Lombardi Trophy.
Shanahan’s demeanor, attitude and innovation already make him one of the best head coaches in the NFL. The players seem to genuinely love playing for him, and they show respect for their leader publicly whenever they can.
No one knows what the future holds for the 49ers, but one thing is for certain: We believe this team can win it all with Shanny at the helm, something I only felt once during the Harbaugh years.
The franchise has the aura of winning now, something Shanahan deserves a ton of credit for. The culture in the building is one of joy, and togetherness.
Here’s to hoping there will be multiple Super Bowl titles over the next seasons!
What are some of the things you appreciate most about Shanahan? On a scale of 0-to-100, how confident are you that Shanny will win a championship with the 49ers?
On to some links:
There will be a ton of pressure on Garoppolo to deliver a Super Bowl win next year. The QB caught up with The Athletic’s Matt Barrows, and opened up about the Tom Brady rumors. (subscription required)
Javon Kinlaw will be a big part of the Niners’ defensive plans in 2020. ESPN’s Nick Wagoner says San Francisco looks at the rookie as the ideal replacement for the departed DeForest Buckner.
Could the 49ers chase another California QB in 2021? SI’s Grant Cohn says the Niners may target Aaron Rodgers if Jimmy G struggles this season.
Even though the coronavirus pandemic is causing major issues with NFL workouts, some San Francisco players are trying to find a way to get together. 49ers Web Zone’s David Bonilla wrote about receiver Deebo Samuel making the trip to Nashville to spend time with Garoppolo.
The Niners need a big season from pass rusher Dee Ford. Fansided’s Nick Di Marco says if Ford can’t stay healthy, he is an ideal cut candidate next offseason.
We know former 49ers’ QB Colin Kaepernick won’t be re-joining the team anytime soon. Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports comes up with eight ideal landing spots if Kap is given another opportunity with an NFL team.