Photo via Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports
The San Francisco 49ers played in three straight NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance from 2011-2013.
After an 8-8 finish of the 2014 season, the 49ers owner Jed York and former general manager Trent Baalke pushed Jim Harbaugh out the door, thinking that the team could win without the fiery head coach.
Boy were they wrong.
Since 2014, the team has gone a cumulative 7-25 and has been in constant turmoil. After the “mutual parting ways” or so York said, the team has hired and fired two head coaches and had four tough retirements in Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Anthony Davis and Justin Smith. They also lost key offensive players to free agency in Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, and Mike Iupati.
In short summary, the team absolutely imploded after they pushed Harbaugh out the door.
And under Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly the team didn’t pick up any of the pieces. But that chapter is already over. Finished. Old news.
Now the next chapter opens.
Kyle Shanahan, the Offensive Coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons has helped the team have one of the best seasons in franchise history.
Presumed Future Coach of the 49ers, Kyle Shanahan
The scheme destined by the Shanahan has been unstoppable, especially in the playoffs. The Falcons are averaging 40 points per game in the playoffs, one reason the team looks up and finds themselves positioned to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
Shanahan offensive scheme has resulted in a season in which Matt Ryan threw for nearly 5,000 yards, completing 69.9 percent of his passes and throwing 38 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. The leader of the huddle has had an MVP-caliber season and it should be no surprise if he wins the MVP on February 4.
Despite his inconsistency over the last few years, Ryan has had an amazing season begging the question if the QB could regain the hype he had as a young player nicknamed “Matty Ice.”
The truth is he hasn’t had to be “Matty Ice” this year. Shanahan has created a prolific offense that has stifled some of the best defensive minds the NFL has to offer. While critics of Shanahan’s brilliance will say Ryan has one of the top three wideouts in the NFL in Julio Jones, the numbers show that Shanahan’s impact on the offense was much more than just Jones’ stellar play.
Ryan threw 13 touchdowns to different wide receivers this season, an NFL record.
Kyle Shanahan’s scheme made Falcons wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends better with Atlanta than ever before. Even the average players put together solid plays that consistently helped the team win games. Justin Hardy had four touchdowns, Taylor Gabriel six, Levine Toilolo with two and Austin Hooper with three touchdowns.
The 49ers organization and fans are hoping that he will be able to do the same thing to a 49ers offense that looked confused and hopeless in 2016 under quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick.
Shanahan will look to reestablish some of the traits that offensive guru Bill Walsh showed in his high-powered offense with Joe Montana from 1979-1988.
Kyle Shanahan will be a first-time head coach in the NFL and alongside him will be a first-time general manager in former FOX analyst John Lynch.
The Next 49ers GM, John Lynch (AP Photo/ Jack Dempsey)
Lynch who played under Kyle’s father Mike Shanahan reportedly called the younger Shanahan and volunteered to be the new GM.
Lynch takes over for Trent Baalke who angered fans greatly after being a part in pushing Harbaugh out the door, frequently drafting players recovering from serious injuries, and not using the team’s cap space toward effective free agent players.
Lynch’s hiring came out of left field as he wasn’t even in the GM rumors until the day he reportedly agreed to come to the organization.
The new general manager of the 49ers was a 9-time pro bowl safety. The 49ers gave up the most points in the NFL last season at 480 points and allowed the most yards per game at 406.4.
It seems that Lynch will try to rebuild a roster that doesn’t have an abundance of talent while focusing on the defensive side of the ball and let the new head coach look to create a new juggernaut on offense, this time in Santa Clara, California.
Both Lynch and Shanahan are expected to sign 6-year deals so they can be linked together.
Whatever happens in 2017 and beyond for the 49ers, the stage is set. Fans and entire league are waiting to see what the future holds for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch as a head coach, general manager tandem in the NFL.
I’m an aspiring sports journalist with experience interviewing and reporting on collegiate and professional athletes since 2014. I study at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and am majoring in sports journalism.