21 Feb Stromme’s Offseason Takes: Shanahan’s the Right Man for the 49ers
By: Mike Stromme
The conclusion of the Super Bowl means the conclusion of NFL head coach vacancies. The final shoe to drop, Kyle Shanahan to the San Francisco 49ers. Perhaps, one of the worst-kept secrets of the offseason to-date. Nonetheless, Kyle Shanahan becomes the 20th head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, the franchise’s fourth head coach in four seasons. For the first time in the post-Harbaugh era, the Niners made the correct choice at head coach.
Shanahan, since beginning his career as an NFL playcalling career in 2008 with the Houston Texans under Gary Kubiak, has both got the most out of limited talent and made good players great.
In 2008, Shanahan got 4,475 yards passing yards (279.69 yards/game) out of Matt Schaub and Sage Rosenfels. The
next season, Schaub threw for 4,770 yards, had a TD-INT ratio of 29-15. Matt Schaub was a Pro Bowler under Kyle Shanahan.
With the shell of Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman to work with in his first two season in Washington working under his father, the Redskins moved-up in the upcoming draft and snagged themselves Robert Griffin III with the 2nd overall pick in 2012.
Griffin in 2012 might have been Shanahan’s best job yet, the rookie lit the league on fire as a legitimate dual-threat QB. In case you forget, RGIII’s rookie campaign looked like this: 65.8%-3,200-20-5 WITH 120-815-7 rushing.
Griffin gets hurt in late 2012, the Redskins rush him out for the Wild Card game vs. Seattle, rush him back for the beginning of 2013 and essentially ruin his career. My gut tells me that the elder Shanahan and the front-office had more to do with this than Kyle did. But anyways, Griffin’s numbers obviously drop (not as much as you might think though, 60.1%-3,203-16-12 with 86-489-0). Having the 30th ranked defense didn’t help things either. The 2013 Redskins, and the downfall of Robert Griffin III, were not Kyle Shanahan’s undoing.
Mike Shanahan resigns the following offseason, and with Kyle not retained by the Jay Gruden administration, is left to find employment elsewhere. He then lands a job in Cleveland as the OC for 2014. Recency bias would suggest that the Browns are just the worst, and for the majority of the 21st century, they have been. However in 2014 with Shanahan running the offense, the Browns were semi-competent; finishing the season 7-9. And he had the likes of Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel throwing the ball. It’s also not like the team was pesky defensively, they ranked 23rd in points allowed.
Shanahan moved on to the Falcons in 2015, where the Falcons ranked 7th in total yards. The next year he went to a Super Bowl and well, you saw what he did to the Falcons and Seahawks this month, didn’t you? Not only has his offense done it in the post season, they did it all season long; ranking 1st in total points, 2nd in total yards, 3rd in passing yards, 5th in rushing and 1st in scoring percentage at a whopping 54.1%.
With the Niners presumably taking a QB with the 2nd overall pick, it’s looking like either Notre Dame’s Deshon Kizer, Mitch Trubisky out of North Carolina or possibly 2017 College Football Championship winning QB Deshaun Watson taking Shanahan’s play-calls in 2017. A Shanahan-led offense taking a QB 2nd overall, where have we seen this before?
Will the 49ers of 2017 remind us of Montana and Young? Probably not, but hiring Shanahan would be a decent start. A young head coach who already has a pedigree is a perfect fit for the youngest team in the NFC.