Kyle Shanahan

Kyle Shanahan Discusses Decision To Take Trey Lance Over Mac Jones

Even up until the day of the 2021 Draft, it was still uncertain which QB the 49ers would take with the No. 3 pick. Our final report on the subject indicated that the decision was down to the team’s eventual pick, Trey Lance, and Alabama’s Mac Jones, who ended up going to the Patriots at No. 15.

During a recent appearance on the “Flying Coach” podcast, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan seemed to indicate that the team did seriously consider Jones before ultimately choosing Lance.

“I think either one would have been a good decision,” Shanahan said (h/t Yahoo’s Josh Schrock). “Like, you’re not moving up if you don’t feel good about both of those. And if it had just been one then we probably would have said no — well, we probably wouldn’t have said that because it’s still risky. But we really — either one of those players would have been a great pick, in my opinion. And the third guy with Justin [Fields], he would have been a great pick. It’s just what direction do you want to go.

“There’s so many things that go into it and you’ve got to make that decision. But I didn’t blame people at all for thinking it would be Mac Jones. Because Mac Jones deserves that. He’s that good of a player and he put it on tape for a whole year, and everyone did want to relate me to Kirk [Cousins] because that’s the only guy that I was openly going for as a free agent, so people talk about him. But Trey brought another element. And it doesn’t mean he’s better or worse. It just means he brought another element that over the course of us studying it really intrigued us, and that’s a direction I would love to go and have always wanted to go.

“But the guy has got to be able to do it all, and Trey sold us that he could and that’s why I’m excited to work with him and it’s up to us to get him to do it.”

After acquiring the No. 3 pick from the Dolphins for No. 12 and a pair of future firsts, the 49ers never really showed their hand, but it sounds like the team was sincerely exploring all of their potential options. As Shanahan noted, the 49ers seemed to value Lance’s diverse skill set, something that was especially evident during a 2019 collegiate season where the quarterback ran for 1,100 yards. For comparison’s sake, Jones had 42 rushing yards throughout his entire college career.

While Lance will eventually be under center for his new team, it sounds like the team is going to give Jimmy Garoppolo every opportunity to win the starting gig.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys, 49ers, Jags Penalized For OTA Violations

SATURDAY: It turns out the 49ers were not forced to cancel their final week of OTAs this year, with Schefter adding the team avoided such a penalty after having already canceled its final OTA session and its mandatory minicamp (Twitter link).

THURSDAY: Three organizations have been slapped with fines following OTA violations. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter), the league handed out the following punishments:

  • Cowboys fined $100K, HC Mike McCarthy $50K
  • 49ers fined $100K, HC Kyle Shanahan fined $50K
  • Jaguars fined $200K, HC Urban Meyer $100K

The three teams violated CBA rules focused on offseason workouts.

The Cowboys will also have to forfeit one of their OTA practices during the 2022 offseason, while the Jaguars will have to forfeit a pair of 2022 practices. The 49ers have already carried out their penalty; per Schefter, the NFL Management Council “ordered” the organization to cancel the final week of OTAs back in June. When we reported that the 49ers were cutting short their offseason program, the decision was attributed to injuries, as the team lost part-time starters Justin Skule and Tarvarius Moore for the season and running back Jeff Wilson for the next few months.

“The health and safety of our players is our highest priority, and we take following league rules very seriously,” the 49ers said in a statement today (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area on Twitter). “We will continue to work with the NFL and the NFLPA to ensure compliance.”

Latest On 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo

Is Jimmy Garoppolo guaranteed to be on the 49ers roster next week? Kyle Shanahan made it clear that he couldn’t guarantee the fate of humanity, much less the roster status of his starting quarterback. However, the 49ers head coach later provided a thoughtful response that seemed to hint that the organization would be content with keeping the veteran.

[RELATED: Will The 49ers Trade Jimmy Garoppolo?]

“The biggest thing with Jimmy is his injuries,” Shanahan said (via David Lombardi of The Athletic on Twitter). “It’s been very tough for us when he’s been hurt. This happened two of these three years. That’s where it starts. Jimmy knows that. I’ve been very up front with him with everything.

“Excited to get him in here coming up, especially when this draft is over. But I feel very fortunate taking a rookie quarterback that we do have a guy like Jimmy. We didn’t sign a guy who’s capable or has the history of being a starter right away. We have a guy, every time he’s been a starter, he’s played at a high level. So to have that with Jimmy with having a rookie quarterback gives us a lot of leeway into this. I’m not going to set anything into stone, but I know that’s the situation that would be hard to get rid of. When you take a rookie quarterback and you take a veteran like Jimmy who we know we can win with, just to move on from that is something that’s not easy to do. That is a good situation for us and I think that is something that’ll be important to us this year.”

We heard that the 49ers may be holding out for a first-round pick for Garoppolo, and the organization would obviously trade the veteran in the right deal. However, Shanahan’s argument for keeping his starting quarterback does have plenty of merit, and the organization has made it abundantly clear that they won’t simply give Garoppolo away.

So who are the 49ers going to take? The head coach wouldn’t provide any answers, but he noted that the organization still feels good about five prospects at the No. 3 spot.

“We could have sat there at 12, and waited which one came to us, if one did,” Shanhan said (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter). “But we made a decision that we felt we needed to get a starting QB. We wanted to dicatate it. We’ll get the one that we feel is best for us.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Wright, Conner

Of the three high-end quarterback prospects expected to be available to the 49ers at No. 3 overall, Justin Fields has lagged behind the other two — Trey Lance and Mac Jones — in terms of being linked to San Francisco. But Kyle Shanahan has reached out to Fields’ pre-draft coach, former NFL QB John Beck, at points this offseason. Beck has overseen Fields’ pre-draft preparations and has taken over that role for Lance in recent weeks. Beck was with Washington when Shanahan served as the team’s OC.

Knowing that I’ve been around (Fields) the last three months, he’ll reach out and just want to ask questions or talk,” Beck said, via The Athletic’s Matt Barrows (subscription required) of Shanahan. “And kind of like prod into: What are the things we’re working on, the things that I think having played in his system, having been coached by him, I know how he’s going to coach quarterbacks. I know what he’s looking for.”

Beck, who added that he has also spoken with 49ers assistant GM Adam Peters this offseason, incorporated 49ers concepts into Fields’ first pro day. Peters, 49ers QBs coach Rich Scangarello and college scouting director Ethan Waugh attended Fields’ first pro day. Beck will not attend Fields’ second showcase, but the 49ers will run the workout. Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • With Trevor Lawrence almost certainly Jacksonville-bound and Zach Wilson on track to join the Jets, the 49ers’ QB preference has emerged as perhaps the draft’s top talking point. Few in the team’s building know which passer Shanahan prefers. He and John Lynch have only told “a couple” of people the quarterback they are targeting, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast (video link). It will come down to Fields, Lance and Jones. Thus far, Jones may have a slight lead. While Shanahan and Lynch showed rare transparency following their trade up to No. 3, their secrecy within the building will continue to generate interest as to which QB Shanahan wants. Lynch and Shanahan opting to attend Jones’ pro day over Fields’ may have served as an early tell, but the 49ers are attending Fields and Lance’s second showcases.
  • K.J. Wright expressed interest in returning to the Seahawks but is not keen on taking a discount to re-sign. However, the veteran linebacker may have no choice. Wright may need to accept a deal that slashes his previous pay in half, John Clayton of 710 AM Seattle writes, adding that he is not getting “good vibes” another Wright-Seahawks accord may come to pass. Wright averaged $7MM in salary on his third Seahawks contract, which he signed in 2019. He was interested in joining ex-Seattle DC Dan Quinn in Dallas; nothing has emerged to indicate the Cowboys are pursuing Wright. The Seahawks moving on would make sense. They used a 2020 first-round pick on Jordyn Brooks and have Bobby Wagner signed to the top off-ball linebacker contract. Wright, 31, has played all 10 of his NFL seasons with Seattle.
  • New Cardinals running back James Conner underwent toe surgery recently. He suffered the injury in an ATV accident, he said Tuesday. The former Pro Bowl back is expected to be 100% by training camp.

Extra Points: 49ers, Hurts, Gase

The 49ers picked up a huge win over the Rams on Sunday, but they were dealt an unexpected blow earlier this week when Santa Clara County officials suddenly announced they wouldn’t be allowed to practice or play in their stadium moving forward. That’s left the 49ers reeling, with little time to formulate a backup plan. Speaking after the game, head coach Kyle Shanahan said it was “extremely disappointing” that the team wasn’t given any advanced notice, and said “we’re working our tail off” to find new accommodations. As of right now the “most likely” option is for the 49ers to play their remaining home games at the Cardinals’ stadium, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Their division rivals are apparently willing to lend a helping hand to the 49ers. Rapoport also writes that a stadium in Texas is another option, although the NFL would prefer them to play at an NFL arena. The question would then turn into what the team will do for a living situation. Rapoport writes that it’s possible the team just stays in Arizona and lives out of hotels in the area, forming a bubble of sorts. It’s a tough situation that will put 5-6 San Fran at a competitive disadvantage for the rest of the year. We’ll update whenever a plan is officially ironed out.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Eagles fans that have been clamoring for more Jalen Hurts are about to get their wish. Philly is expected to give Hurts his most extensive playing time of the season, including plays where Carson Wentz isn’t on the field, for their Monday night game against the Seahawks, Rapoport writes. Rapsheet says it’s unlikely he’ll get a full series, but to expect to see him for two or three plays at a time. Philly inflicted this quarterback controversy upon themselves by drafting Hurts in the second-round back in April. Wentz, of course, has been mostly awful this season. He’s still owed over $50MM in guaranteed money over the next two seasons, but it sounds like things could finally be trending toward a benching if he doesn’t get things turned around soon. Either way, it’ll be very interesting to see how Hurts looks on MNF.
  •  The Jets continued their march toward a potential winless season with a defeat at the hands of the Dolphins. 0-11 aside, there’s now a minor controversy over who is calling the plays in New York. Before the game, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweeted that Adam Gase would re-take play calling duties from offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. But after the game, Gase insisted he wasn’t calling the plays. Reporters pressed Gase on it, claiming Loggains looked like he was doing nothing on the sidelines and that Gase was the one talking. Gase then claimed Loggains would talk to him before the drive about what plays to call, then conceded he was calling the plays for third downs and two-minute drills. Sam Darnold said after the game that it was Gase’s voice in his helmet telling him the plays. It’s another bizarre situation, but one that is pretty much par for the course for this 2020 Jets campaign.

NFC East Notes: Manning, Adams, Cowboys

Peyton Manning‘s decision to sign with the Broncos eight years ago changed the franchise’s trajectory, but the future Hall of Famer did not get the chance to strongly consider a team that would likely have been on his list. While it is not certain the Redskins would have beaten out the Broncos, the presence of Mike and Kyle Shanahan would have given Washington a key selling point. The then-free agent passer met with the Shanahans while in Denver to watch film, and Manning indicated he was “very impressed” with Kyle — then Washington’s OC. Mike Shanahan, then in his third year as Washington’s HC, confirmed the franchise was interested in Manning when the Colts released him on March 7, 2012. But in between Manning’s Colts exit and his Broncos commitment, the Redskins sent the Rams a monster haul for the No. 2 overall pick.

I had known Mike for a long time, played for him in a Pro Bowl, and we’ve stayed in touch, and so I felt comfortable talking to them,” Manning said in an expansive piece on his 2012 free agency by The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, Lindsay Jones and others (subscription required). “But they had made a trade for the second pick of the draft, which they ended up taking Robert Griffin III. So as soon as they made that trade, even Mike kind of knew that eliminated them. It just wasn’t going to make sense.”

The Redskins-Rams trade became official March 13 — three days after the Manning-Shanahans film session took place, per The Athletic — but the teams agreed to the deal March 9. Years later, John Elway informed his former head coach he believed the Redskins may have held more appeal than the Broncos ultimately presented in the Manning sweepstakes.

I think Peyton was disappointed,” Mike Shanahan said. “Kyle and I were kind of surprised that he still wanted to meet with us. I can remember talking with Elway one time not too long ago, a few years ago. He said, ‘Mike, do you realize that Peyton, I think, was going to go to your place? I think he really wanted to go to your place more than our place.’”

Shifting back to the current NFL landscape, here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • A report last week indicated the Cowboys reside on Jamal Adams‘ list of preferred trade destinations, and the Jets safety confirmed he will try to make a Dallas venture happen. In a short response to a fan, an in-transit Adams said he will try to maneuver his way to the Cowboys, via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The Jets have yet to indicate they will honor Adams’ trade request. Adams wants a monster extension, but were the fourth-year defender to be dealt to Dallas, he may not be as demanding for an new deal this year.
  • Although the Eagles re-signed Rodney McLeod and agreed to terms with Jalen Mills with the intention of moving him to safety, Geoff Mosher of InsidetheBirds.com views an Adams-to-Philadelphia path as an ideal match. The Eagles made a big splash at corner, giving Darius Slay a lucrative extension that essentially doubles as a two-year pact. But they remain $24MM-plus under the cap, providing intriguing flexibility on this front. However, the Jets having Adams under contract through 2021 gives them leverage in against the disgruntled defender.
  • With Dak Prescott signing his franchise tender, the Cowboys are now the only team with three players — Prescott, Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence — earning $20MM per year, per ESPN Stats & Info’s Evan Kaplan (on Twitter). Cooper’s deal averages $20MM per year, but the Cowboys can get out of it — if need be — fairly easily by 2022. Prescott is tied to a $31.4MM payment, and the Cowboys have barely three weeks to extend him.

49ers, Kyle Shanahan Agree To Extension

After giving Kyle Shanahan a six-year extension in 2017, the 49ers are doubling down. The defending NFC champions and their fourth-year head coach agreed on another six-year deal Monday, as first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Niners officially confirmed the news on Tuesday morning, via press release.

The deal does not tack three years onto Shanahan’s previous pact. It will replace the previous contract, tying the 40-year-old head coach to the 49ers through the 2025 season. This contract will place Shanahan among the top-five highest-paid coaches, Schefter adds.

The second-generation HC had three years remaining on his initial San Francisco deal, but with the rebuild he and John Lynch oversaw producing one of the league’s great single-season turnarounds, the franchise moved quickly to lock down its sideline boss. The negotiation between Shanahan and 49ers CEO Jed York moved quickly, Schefter notes.

Shanahan spent several seasons as an offensive coordinator, moving from Washington to Cleveland to Atlanta before landing the San Francisco HC job. Brought in along with Lynch to orchestrate a rebuild — after the 49ers made their initial two post-Jim Harbaugh coaches (Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly) one-and-dones — and the 2019 brought that to fruition. The 49ers followed a 4-12 2018 season — one largely without Jimmy Garoppolo — with a 13-3 slate that secured NFC home-field advantage and the franchise’s seventh Super Bowl berth.

Lynch remains on his original deal, which runs through 2022. But after the career TV analyst worked alongside Shanahan to rebuild the 49ers, it is not hard to envision the franchise rewarding its GM as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers’ HC Kyle Shanahan, GM John Lynch In Line For Extensions

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch both joined the team in 2017 and received matching six-year contracts. In year three of their partnership, they have guided San Francisco to the brink of their sixth Super Bowl championship, and they are about to be rewarded for it.

Sources tell Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com that both men are in line for new deals — which will surely include handsome raises — sometime this offseason. All sides are hoping that this will get done prior to the start of the 2020 regular season.

Shanahan told owner Jed York during his interview three years ago that he was inheriting a “horrible” roster, and York knew that the 2019 season would be the first season in which the team’s new power structure could be fairly judged. The fact that QB Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL in Week 3 of the 2018 campaign might have pushed back York’s timeline, but the team has largely managed to stay healthy this year and has lived up to Lynch’s vision of a team that is stout up front on both sides of the ball.

Rapoport and Garafolo offer a few more details on the interview process that convinced York that Lynch, who had no front office or coaching experience at the time, was the right man for the job, so the piece is worth a read for Niners fans. The relationship between the neophyte GM and head coach started in a good place and has only blossomed from there, and both men appear poised to lead the team for the foreseeable future.

It is fascinating to see how quickly things can change. In July, there were rumors that Lynch and DC Robert Saleh were on the hot seat. Months later, Saleh became a hot head coaching candidate and Lynch is staring down the barrel of a Super Bowl ring and a new contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Notes: Shanahan, Lynch, Garoppolo

The trade that sent Jimmy Garoppolo from New England to San Francisco has turned out to be one of the most important swaps in recent NFL history, with Tom Brady‘s former backup set to start in Super Bowl LIV. Despite other suitors believed to be in the mix for Garoppolo in 2017, Bill Belichick alerted Kyle Shanahan he was willing to part with the former second-round pick for a second-rounder. The 49ers quickly accepted but did so after initially being willing to offer the Patriots more for the then-fourth-year passer, Seth Wickersham of ESPN.com reports. But Belichick, despite previous refusals to trade Garoppolo, was not posturing when he indicated he would take a Round 2 pick for his contract-year quarterback.

It ended up costing the 49ers only the No. 43 overall selection in 2018 to land their starting quarterback. While this process was murkier on the Patriots’ end, it helped the 49ers construct a rebuild that has them in their seventh Super Bowl.

A week away from the 49ers’ Super Bowl matchup with the Chiefs, here is the latest out of San Francisco:

  • Going back to when this rebuild began, Shanahan did not mince words about the state of the 49ers during his interview for their top coaching job. Early in the then-Falcons OC’s 2017 interview, he told team CEO Jed York the roster left over from the Trent Baalke era at that time was “horrible,” Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. This led to a gradual rebuild that did not get far off the ground before this season, with the 49ers going 10-22. But York was on board with the process, viewing 2019 as the first real season on which the Shanahan-John Lynch regime could be judged, Maiocco adds. York gave the HC-GM duo six-year contracts because of the team going through three coaches in three years from 2014-16.
  • Lynch’s hire came about because he cold-called Shanahan with an offer to pair with him in San Francisco, Wickersham adds. A recommendation from Mike Shanahan, who coached Lynch in Denver, helped seal the deal for his son. Lynch had spoken at length with Kyle Shanahan on the phone in preparation for games he would call as a broadcaster, per Wickersham, and hoped for a chance to return to football. Shanahan did not have much familiarity with the other finalists for the 49ers’ GM job — Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Cardinals VP of player personnel Terry McDonough — and the decision to hire a GM out of the broadcast booth has helped the 49ers return to the Super Bowl.
  • Despite dealing with a dislocated shoulder that induced pain preventing him from walking off the field last weekend, Tevin Coleman has received good news about his status for Super Bowl LIV.