Less than 24 hours removed from a surreal scene in Santa Clara that saw the San Francisco 49ers and former head coach Jim Harbaugh part ways, reports are surfacing regarding who might be on the team’s short list to replace one of the most successful head coaches in franchise history.
According to the venerable Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is on the short list to become San Francisco’s newest head coach.
This isn’t terribly surprising considering that the brass in Santa Clara are reportedly interested in bringing in a young offensive mind.
Shanahan, in his first season as the Browns offensive coordinator, was the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator from 2010-2013 under his father, Mike. He also led the Houston Texans offense in 2008 and 2009.
The family links are definitely there. Mike Shanahan acted as the 49ers offensive coordinator from 1992-1994, a three-year stretch that ended in the team’s fifth and last Super Bowl.
As it relates to the younger Shanahan, his offenses have failed to finish in the top 10 in scoring in any of his seven seasons as a coordinator in the NFL. Cleveland bottomed out with the 27th-ranked scoring offense in 2014. Despite not putting up the points, Shanahan’s offenses have finished in the top 10 in yards four times in his seven seasons.
That disconnect could tell us a story of an offensive mind that struggles calling plays in the red zone. And to be brutally honest, that’s the last thing fans in San Francisco want to hear after the past four seasons, a span that was defined by a major lack of success in the red zone.
As it is, Shanahan is just one of multiple candidates that the 49ers are going to express interest in over the coming week or so. This one scribe finds it highly unlikely that the team would settle for him with so many vastly superior options out there.
Photo: CBS Sports