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Where CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin ranks Kyle Shanahan among NFL head coaches

Every offseason there are debates about Shanahan’s merits as a head coach. Heading into 2023, should Kyle be in the top 5?

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Kyle Shanahan has proved to be an invaluable commodity since taking over as the head coach of the 49ers in 2017. Since his arrival in the Bay Area, the 49ers quickly transformed from a laughingstock to a perennial contender year in and year out.

It’s no secret how well-respected he is in league circles, but how well does he stack up compared to his peers? CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin released his rankings of all 32 head coaches in the NFL, with Shanahan ranked second behind only Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs.

2. Kyle Shanahan (49ers)

Season: 7th with SF, 7th as HC

Career record: 52-46 | Playoffs: 6-3 (0-1 in Super Bowls)

“Three losing seasons in six years, plus back-to-back NFC Championship losses, proves he’s not a cure-all for his own team. But he’s awfully close to it. Consider that in the last four years alone, San Francisco has reached the conference title game three times; the one time they didn’t, QB Jimmy Garoppolo missed 10 games. When QB injuries struck even harder in 2022, his space-creating designs allowed rookie Brock Purdy’s seamless takeover, plus Christian McCaffrey’s seamless deadline integration. A talented “D” has helped, but again, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone better at single-handedly drawing up such effortless offensive production, which is frankly what matters most in today’s NFL.”

As Benjamin points to in his article, Shanahan has done more with less than anyone else in the NFL in recent history. The most glaring example of this came during the 2022 season when the 49ers’ offense never seemed to miss a beat despite cycling through three different starting quarterbacks.

While the Super Bowl win has proved elusive, Shanahan still boasts a stellar record in the postseason — particularly when the 49ers are playing at Levi’s Stadium, where they have never lost a playoff game under his watch.

This success has placed him in a tier of his own, becoming the first coach in NFL history to win multiple playoff games in each of his first three trips to the postseason.

Another area where Shanahan has shined has been his ability to put together a top-notch coaching staff year after year. Three of his former assistants are now holding head coaching jobs in the NFL, with numerous others who left the 49ers for promotions with other organizations in various roles.

The discussion around Shanahan typically starts with his uncanny ability to scheme on the offensive side of the ball. Still, he has proven to be the total package that teams covet in a head coaching role.

He may not get the respect he deserves until he can hoist the Lombardi Trophy, but meanwhile, 49ers fans can be at ease knowing they have one of the best in the business running the show in Santa Clara for years to come.