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Defending Kyle Shanahan

No matter what Kyle Shanahan does, he's wrong.


It could just be the gap between minicamp and training camp that's making everyone crazy, but a significant portion of 49ers fans have been bashing the 49ers' head coach lately. He's been excoriated for everything from his conservative nature at the end of halves to his death grip on the offense. It's getting out of hand.


Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Kyle is blameless when it comes to all of the 49ers' issues. Far from it. But I think it's also important to stop and smell the roses for a second. Since Shanahan rebuilt the roster in 2019, he's been among the most successful coaches in the NFL.


Best Records in the NFL since 2019

Team

Record

Chiefs

52-14

Packers

47-19

Bills

47-18

Ravens

43-23

49ers

42-24

Only four teams have better records than Shanahan, and those teams are quarterbacked by Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson.


Look beyond the regular season and Shanahan's resume looks even better. Other than the Chiefs, who continue to be an unstoppable winning machine powered by Andy Reid's brain and Patrick Mahomes' arm, no team has had more postseason success in that time than the 49ers. The Packers have made two NFC title games since then, one of which included a humiliating defeat to Kyle Shanahan's 49ers. The Bills have only made one conference title game even with Josh Allen, and the Ravens have never advanced past the Divisional Round.


What are people mad at, exactly?


And look, I get it. The 49ers have been on the doorstep of a championship since 2019. When that happens, the bar for success gets higher and higher until only a championship will suffice. The 49ers are certainly there. But there is no evidence to support that idea that another head coach would do any better in the same circumstances, and no evidence to support the idea that another head coach will do better going forward.


For every Jon Gruden Super Bowl after replacing Tony Dungy, there's Norv Turner taking over for Marty Schottenheimer. Or better yet for 49ers fans, Dennis Erickson taking over for Steve Mariucci.


While I concede that there is a point where eventually you have to stop banging your head against the wall, I don't believe we're at the point just yet. Not after a year when this team was 6th in points scored despite playing three quarterbacks during the regular season. Not after people think they might have turned the last pick in the draft into a franchise quarterback. And definitely not after that quarterback didn't get to play in the NFC title game because his elbow blew up on the second drive of the game.


Let's just take a deep breath. We're all frustrated. Things are far from perfect. But don't let perfect be the enemy of good - or really damn good, in this case.


Check out Wednesday's podcast if you want to see me argue that point with Grant Cohn. It was pretty spicy. The play button should take you right to the start of the debate.




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