The San Francisco made headlines Monday when news broke that the team re-signed head coach Kyle Shanahan to a six-year contract extension.
Many around the NFL praised the decision. Shanahan has helped turn the franchise from being a laughing stock to one of the best teams in the league in just three years.
Shanahan’s good friend —and former NFL quarterback— Chris Simms joined Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk Live to discuss the 49ers’ head coaches new deal, and reflected on the rough beginning of Shanahan’s tenure:
“Even when they went 6-10 and 4-12 the first two years, it was a quarterback issue. I think everybody still saw that this offense is good. How many close games did they lose, and things like that, because of the lack of that quarterback? But they got Jimmy Garoppolo, and a full season of being healthy and everything like that, and I think it truly showed you the potential of Shanahan as the head coach, what his offense could be all about. We don’t even think Jimmy Garoppolo is hitting on all cylinders yet.”
No one expected the Niners to be in playoff contention when Brian Hoyer or C.J. Bethard played quarterback. The 2018 season was supposed to be one of improvement for San Francisco, but that was cut short when Garoppolo injured his knee in Week 3.
Everything changed in 2019. The 49ers added some key defensive pieces in Nick Bosa, and Dee Ford. But, more importantly, had Garoppolo back and healthy.
Jimmy G didn’t disappoint in his first full year as the starter. His 69.1 completion percentage was the third-highest by a Niners QB. Garoppolo threw for 3,978 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 2019. Only Steve Young and Jeff Garcia threw for more yards in a single season among 49ers’ quarterbacks.
Garoppolo is 21-5 as a starter in the NFL, but that hasn’t been enough to silence the doubters. He should take another step in his development with a full offseason of training, rather than focusing on rehabbing from an injury, which is what he did leading up to the 2019 season.
It was interesting to hear Simms say Jimmy G helped unlock Shanahan’s potential as an NFL head coach. We saw what Shanny could do with a quarterback like Matt Ryan in his previous stop as an offensive coordinator.
Shanahan helped turn the Atlanta Falcons offense around in his second year as OC. The Falcons were the highest-scoring team in the NFL in 2016, and ranked second in total yards per game, up from No. 8, which is where they finished in 2014, the year before Shanahan took over.
If the 49ers didn’t trade for Garoppolo, and the roster was the exact same, except for the team had Kirk Cousins at the QB position, do you think the Niners still would have made the Super Bowl last season?