Potential candidates to replace San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan

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Fair or not, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is receiving a ton of flack for his team’s struggles since their Super Bowl appearance back in February of 2020.

San Francisco sits at 3-5 on the campaign and is coming off a brutal home loss to the injury-plagued Arizona Cardinals. Since the start of the 2020 campaign, the 49ers have lost 15 of 24 outings. They’ve also lost their past eight games at Levi’s Stadium.

Despite signing a new six-year contract extension following the 2019 season, there’s been some talk that Kyle Shanahan is running out of lives in Northern California. No matter how foolish that might seem on the surface, there’s no telling what’s going to happen moving forward.

What we do know is that the 49ers’ brass exhausted two future first-round picks and an additional mid-round selection to move up from the 12th spot to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. In turn, they selected small-school quarterback Trey Lance to eventually take over for Jimmy Garoppolo under center.

Whether it is Shanahan or someone else, any decision-making process as it relates to the San Francisco 49ers’ head coaching job has to be done with Lance in mind. As premature as it might seem, here’s a look at three potential candidates to replace Shanahan in Northern California should he be given the boot following the 2021 season.

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49ers replace Kyle Shanahan with Eric Bieniemy

san francisco 49ers hire eric bieniemy
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Following his playing days as a running back in the NFL, Bieniemy served in the role of coaching that position in stints with Colorado and UCLA in college as well as the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs in the pros. While the respected offensive mind has seen his stock drop a bit this season due to the Chiefs’ struggles with him coordinating the offense, there’s still a lot to like here.

As mentioned above, San Francisco has to focus on getting someone who is going to help Lance live up to his otherworldly expectations. Having overseen the emergence of a quarterback with a similar skill-set in Patrick Mahomes with the Chiefs, Bieniemy would make sense for San Francisco should it move off Shanahan.

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San Francisco 49ers steal Brian Daboll

San Francisco 49ers hire Brian Daboll
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Noticing a theme here? It has to be about offense in San Francisco. You don’t exhaust that much draft capital on a quarterback to hire a defensive-minded head coach. It’s in this that the 46-year-old Daboll would make a ton of sense.

After some initial struggles coordinating offenses in Cleveland, Miami and Kansas City, this ascending offensive mine has helped turn Buffalo into a true firepower. He’s also helped a dual-threat quarterback in Josh Allen emerge as a legit NFL MVP candidate after he entered the league as a project — much like what we’re seeing with Lance in San Francisco. It also doesn’t hurt that Daboll comes from the Bill Belichick and Nick Saban coaching trees.

San Francisco 49ers go for gold with Lincoln Riley

Oklahoma Sooners, Nebrasks cornhuskers preview
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It was previously noted that Riley would only consider a transition from Oklahoma to the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. We’re not sure if that’s still the case years removed from those reports. What we do know is that San Francisco has to be seen as an attractive destination for the Sooners’ head coach.

Just look at the success current NFL quarterbacks Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts had under Riley in Norman. Now imagine what the respected head coach might be able to do with a dual-threat quarterback with unlimited upside in Lance. From San Francisco’s perspective, this would also represent a breath of fresh air from what seems to be a very tense atmosphere under Kyle Shanahan right now.

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Bottom line: Kyle Shanahan contract is problematic

San Francisco 49ers Kyle Shanahan hot seat
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Back in June of 2020, San Francisco signed Shanahan and general manager John Lynch to six-year contract extensions through the 2025 campaign. Not only does this mean the two seem to be tied at the hip, it would be a huge financial loss to move on from either one.

This doesn’t even take into account the fact that embattled 49ers CEO Jed York would be taking on a huge PR hit by moving off Shanahan and keeping Lynch in his role. Both are to blame for the struggles of the past year and a half. The same can be said for San Francisco’s succe

In no way does this mean the San Francisco 49ers won’t be looking for a new powerhouse duo next off-season. A lot of that depends on what happens over the final nine games of the 2021 campaign. If things continue to spiral out of control, a shocking shake up could be in the cards.