Stiles: Is 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan ready for greatness?

Feb 1, 2024, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:46 am

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In sports, you’re measured by production, but in coaching, you’re measured by greatness. Without question, Kyle Shanahan is the best coach in the NFL that hasn’t won a Super Bowl. In no way is that a negative, but does a restaurant strive to be the best restaurant that doesn’t have a Michelin star? It’s safe to say he’d like to win one and give that title to someone else.

Coach Shanahan will get that opportunity against a familiar foe and one that has dealt with similar criticisms throughout their career, Andy Reid. During his 14 years with the Eagles, Reid established himself as the most successful coach in the history of the franchise, taking the team to five NFC Championships and one Super Bowl during his tenure, but he never won the big one.

Fortunately for Andy Reid and the Eagles, all’s well that ends well with both parties winning Super Bowls after their relationship ended. But Kyle Shanahan doesn’t want to follow Reid’s footsteps in that regard, he has already eclipsed Reid’s Super Bowl appearances with the Eagles, and now he just needs one more victory to seal the deal.

San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York showed he has full belief in Kyle Shanahan, and John Lynch for that matter, after giving them both extensions back in September 2023 when neither of their contracts was ending. When Jed York speaks to the team it’s obvious he wants to win a Super Bowl, but as a business, Shanahan and Lynch’s ability to consistently make deep playoff runs is just as valuable to the 49ers organization, possibly more.

At this point in Shanhan’s career, this isn’t about proving anyone right or wrong or proving his worth. It’s about legacy and it’s about greatness.

Shanahan watched his father win, watched his peers whom he respects win, and probably feels like he’s watched some coaches win that he knows he’s better than. The roster is regarded as one of, if not the best in the league, Brock Purdy is playing at an MVP level regardless of what any former player or analyst thinks about him, and the team everyone was worried about in Baltimore didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

Yes, the boogie man who wears number 15 will be ready to go and cement the Chiefs as a dynasty, but their cracks have shown all season and if there is ever a time to get him, it’s now.

With slow starts in both of their playoff games this season it makes you wonder if Shanahan and the team are feeling the pressure. What better way to alleviate that than to go up against the best QB and coach in the league? Want to be the underdog again? You got it. Want bulletin board material? You got it. Any way you spin it, there are no excuses.

Ultimately if Kyle Shanahan and the Niners don’t get it done the sky won’t fall and life goes on. Next season they’ll still have a top five roster and a young, inexpensive, emerging QB. But with the way this season has gone and the state of the team from their growth throughout the season to their current health at this stage of the season, it begs the question if not now, then when?

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