The 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan should have been ranked higher in FanSided’s NFL power rankings for head coaches entering 2020, right?
Two things are certain heading into 2020: The San Francisco 49ers have an excellent head coach in Kyle Shanahan, and he should have received a lot more credit for the team’s tremendous turnaround from 2018 to 2019.
From a four-win squad in 2018 to getting within 10 minutes of a win in Super Bowl LIV, Shanahan’s work with the Niners has been exemplary. Especially considering the dumpster fire he and general manager John Lynch inherited when they took over their duties early in 2017.
Yet, for whatever the reasons, Shanahan still isn’t getting the recognition he deserves.
FanSided’s Russell Baxter recently came up with NFL power rankings for all 32 head coaches in the league heading into the upcoming season.
Shanahan, quite surprisingly, ranked 16th:
Kyle Shanahan was at the controls of the Niners this past season when they won nine more games than in 2018, tied for the third-biggest turnaround in one season in NFL history. But it all came apart in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV as the club couldn’t protect a 20-10 vs. the Chiefs. Still, this is an extremely talented roster.
Nevermind Shanahan being a top-three offensive mind in the league. Nevermind the fact San Francisco used a ground-and-pound offense to pummel its first two opponents in the playoffs last season, the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. Nevermind the fact Shanahan’s offense produced the league’s best player last year, according to Pro Football Focus, tight end George Kittle.
No, apparently the 49ers’ fourth-quarter meltdown in the Super Bowl was all that was needed to drop Shanahan down into the mere “average” ranks of head coaches.
There are some names above Shanahan who make sense and command no argument. Yet other names surely leave more than a handful of question marks.
Perhaps some angry comments, too. Here are those listed above Shanahan’s 16th placement:
- Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
- Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
- Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
- Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
- John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
- Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles
- Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Ron Rivera, Washington Redskins
- Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
- Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts
- Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys
- Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills
- Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans
- Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Jon Gruden, Las Vegas Raiders
OK, let’s not mess with the top six names. Some may argue whether Shanahan deserves to be in that range, but few would realistically argue those six coaches deserve to be far off from where they place.
Maybe, in Baxter’s perspective, Rivera is still riding the coattails of his 2015 campaign with the Carolina Panthers, who had just one winning season afterward. OK, fine.
But putting McVay, McCarthy, McDermott, O’Brien (plenty of Irish names here, by the way… that’s unique) and particularly Gruden ahead of Shanahan is odd, to say the least.
McVay’s explosive 2018 season, which also fell short in the Super Bowl, put him on the map. Yet McVay being considered a top-10 head coach is quite the stretch and then some. McDermott’s turnaround of the Bills has been fun to watch, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here and put him just outside the top 10.
Why O’Brien and Gruden are listed ahead of Shanahan is anyone’s guess. Sure, the argument for O’Brien is the Texans have been a perennial playoff contender for some time now. Yet there is no shortage of on-field decisions and gaffes (see the 2020 AFC divisional round vs. Chiefs) from O’Brien which arguably have held Houston back from advancing further in the playoffs.
Perhaps each head coach’s overall win/loss records heavily influenced these NFL power rankings, and maybe that’s why Shanahan has yet to climb over other names like McCarthy, O’Brien and Gruden.
Still, it’s hard to fathom why the 49ers’ head coach falls so short, especially when considering some of the other names above him.