Two days ago, Kyle Shanahan had to feel pretty good. He had a 28-3 lead on Bill Belichick in Super Bowl LI, and he had an NFL head-coaching job waiting in the wings.
Things are a little different now. Shanahan oversaw the greatest collapse in Super Bowl history and must now revive a franchise with perhaps the worst roster in football.
“I think it’ll be really tough for a couple of reasons,” CBS Sports senior NFL writer Will Brinson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney, referring to Shanahan’s upcoming stint in San Francisco. “One, he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience. I think anytime you start doing a job you don’t have ay experience doing – and head-coaching and coordinating is just very different because of the responsibilities required for each of those jobs – it’s tough to transition to.”
There’s also this: In Atlanta, Shanahan had the highest-scoring offense in football (33.8 points per game). In San Francisco, he’ll have an offense that ranked 27th in that department in 2016 (19.3 points per game).
“He’s going to move from an offense that had Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to an offense that, well, to be frank, doesn’t have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones,” Brinson said. “It’s going to be a lot harder for him to produce immediately for the 49ers. I just think that that roster is in a really bad spot. When you add in the fact that John Lynch has zero front-office experience, look, this could work out beautifully, but there is some inherent risk built in. That’s built in with every hire, but I think it is a tough transition.
“I do think if you grade this hire with five minutes left tin the third quarter of the Super Bowl, people are talking about an A+ hire because Kyle Shanahan destroyed Bill Belichick’s defense,” Brinson continued. “I still think it’s a really, really good hire, and that Kyle Shananhan will do a good job. But this is not an easy spot to win in.”
Shanahan’s first job will be fixing the quarterback conundrum, and Kirk Cousins could be a possibility.
“I think (the 49ers will) be interested because Shanahan has experience with him,” Brinson said. “I do think also, though, that the cost is so prohibitive to trying to work something out like that that it wouldn’t be surprising to me if they instead went the draft route and perhaps even brought in somebody like Jay Cutler, who has experience in a Shanahan system and could potentially be a free agent depending on what happens with the Bears. It might be a little bit cheaper on a shorter deal.”
Jay Cutler? Really?
“Having to find a quarterback in free agency is not fun,” Brinson said, laughing. “I think the Redskins are in a situation that, because of what happens if they don’t have Kirk Cousins on their roster, that they’re going to have to demand a lot for him. It’s like Jimmy Garoppolo. The Patriots are going to demand a lot for him. So if you’re going to be willing to trade for a quarterback and you’re San Francisco, you’re not going to give up the No. 2 overall pick, but people might be asking for that second-round pick, and to me, the value of whatever you have to give up in a trade is just too much to pay that price for a quarterback.”
While Brinson believes Cutler could end up in San Francisco, he thinks that Carson Palmer will remain in Arizona and that Tony Romo could land in Denver, Jacksonville or New York (Jets).
“If you’re Jerry Jones, you certainly want him in the AFC if you’re going to trade him,” Brinson said. “I just get the sense that if Tony Romo goes to Jerry Jones and says, ‘It’s Dak’s team, I’ve been your guy, let me go take a shot somewhere else,’ that Jerry would give it to him, even though that’s not the smart business decision to just release him. You want to try to get something back for him.”
Adrian Peterson, meanwhile, has likely played his last game as a Viking.
“I think he ends up going somewhere else,” Brinson said. “The Raiders would be a really great fit for him. This is a team with a great offensive line, they need some help running the ball, high-powered offense, and they’re a playoff-caliber team. That would make sense to me.”