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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports


49ers officially hire Kyle Shanahan as their new head coach

Feb 6, 2017 at 4:17 PM--


The San Francisco 49ers have announced the hiring of former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as their new head coach – the team's fourth in as many years. Shanahan first interviewed with the 49ers on January 6 and quickly became one of the frontrunners for the vacancy. Of course, the Falcons were about to embark on a playoff run that would end with a Super Bowl appearance and Shanahan was only able to meet with the 49ers because Atlanta had a bye to kick off the postseason.


Shanahan will be formally introduced as head coach during a press conference later this week at Levi's Stadium.

"This is a very exciting day for the San Francisco 49ers and our fans," said 49ers CEO Jed York via a statement issued by the team. "Throughout this process, we learned many things about Kyle that convinced us he is the perfect coach to lead this team. Over the years, he has proven to be one of the brightest minds in the game of football and his recent success speaks for itself. Kyle's leadership has brought the best out of his players at every phase of his career and we look forward to watching him build a talented staff to accomplish the same with our players.

"Kyle and John are top-tier, football men with outstanding pedigrees who join the organization with a tremendous amount of respect for each other. The future of this franchise will be constructed from their vision, and we look forward to watching them work together for years to come as they instill the culture necessary to consistently compete for championships."


"It is truly an honor to be named head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, one of the marquee franchises in all of sports," said Kyle Shanahan via the statement issued by the team. "I must thank Jed and the York family for entrusting me with this great privilege and tremendous opportunity. I would also like to express my gratitude to Arthur Blank, Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons organization for their support and the experience of a lifetime.

"As a young man, I had the unique benefit of being exposed to the storied history of the San Francisco 49ers firsthand. From that exposure, I developed great respect for those who created a world-class, championship standard. As this team begins the task of reestablishing that standard, I could not ask for a better partner than John Lynch. He is a man who certainly has personal knowledge of what championship organizations look like. John and I look forward to establishing a strong culture that will serve as our foundation for constructing this team.

"I am very excited to dedicate myself to the process that lies ahead. The first step in that process is identifying talented individuals who love the game of football as much as John and I do – coaches, players and staff. We are looking for individuals who work hard and are dedicated to doing things the right way, always in the best interest of the team. Most importantly, we want to give our fans a team they can be proud of on and off the field."

Shanahan, the winner of the Assistant Coach of the Year award, also met with the Los Angeles Rams, who hired former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay, Jacksonville Jaguars, who promoted interim head coach Doug Marrone, and the Denver Broncos, who hired former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. One report had the Broncos seriously considering Shanahan before deciding to go with Joseph.

Shanahan's final season with Atlanta did not end the way he had hoped. He will leave the Falcons amid criticism from fans regarding the former offensive coordinators' decisions on key plays during Atlanta's 34-28 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

"The thought is to get as many yards as you can,'' Shanahan said of his decision not to run the football while in field goal range at the New England 23-yard line in the fourth quarter. "And we were right there on the fringe. It was by no means an easy field goal."

A Matt Ryan sack and an offensive holding call later and the Falcons would be pushed out of field goal range already up by just 8. The Patriots would go on to tie the game, send it into overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history, and then win by scoring a touchdown on the first drive of overtime.


Kyle Shanahan, who is 37, is the son of former Los Angeles Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. The elder Shanahan also served as the 49ers' offensive coordinator under head coach George Seifert in the 90s.

Shanahan has been with Atlanta since 2015 and has nine years of experience as an offensive coordinator. Prior to his two years with Atlanta, he held the same position with the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, and Houston Texans. Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in Washington at the same time that his father was the head coach there.

Under Shanahan, the Falcons offense was ranked first in scoring, second in total yards, third in passing yards, and fifth in rushing yards this season. In 2015, the Falcons led the league in time of possession (32:19).

Shanahan will join new 49ers general manager John Lynch, with whom he worked to get hired. The former NFL safety and FOX analyst, who has no front office experience, was surprisingly named as the new general manager on January 29. Lynch's candidacy remained a secret throughout the entire process, which is impressive given the 49ers' reputation for leaking information over the years. In fact, Lynch, who was well aware of the reputation, stated that one of the reasons for secrecy was to test the 49ers organization on their ability to keep the secret.

Lynch received a six-year contract with the 49ers and Shanahan's contract is expected to match that length. San Francisco will be committed to the pair for a long time – at least financially.

"The San Francisco 49ers are very fortunate to be able to bring in a coach of the caliber of Kyle Shanahan," said 49ers general manager John Lynch of the Shanahan hire. "As an offensive mind, I think he stands alone in the National Football League, as evidenced by the explosive and record-setting offense in Atlanta. Though he grew up around coaching, what has most impressed me about Kyle is that he's become his own man in the profession. Our philosophies on football and our visions for leading the 49ers back to being a championship team align in every way. I am thrilled to have Kyle Shanahan on board."

Lynch will reportedly have final say over the team's 90-man roster, including the draft and free agency. Shanahan will have final say over the team's 53-man roster.

Shanahan has had success in a number of offenses and with a variety of different players, including quarterbacks. His ability to adapt his offense to his players is likely a quality that attracted the 49ers to him. Matt Schaub (Texans), Robert Griffin III (Redskins), and Matt Ryan (Falcons) had their best seasons when Shanahan ran their offenses. Even Brian Hoyer, who started 14 games within his offense, saw success with Shanahan when he was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland.

Hoyer recently compared Shanahan to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "For me, you just know those two, when you see them in the building, they're constantly thinking about football," Hoyer told TheMMQ. "That's the one thing I really admired about Kyle. You knew when he was there, he was putting the work in, that's all he was focused on. He might walk by you in the hallway, and you'd say, 'Hey what's up, Kyle?' and he'd keep walking.

"But that was because he's working on third down or he's worried about the red area. To me, his total commitment, his mind, he's always thinking about it. That's why I made the comparison. Bill was the same way. You'd see him in the hallway, 'Hey Bill,' and he'd just look up, and nod, and keep going. You knew he had so much he was thinking about."

Hoyer went on to say that both Shanahan and Belichick are perfectionists and relentless when it comes to putting a game plan together. They try to simplify the plan for each player so that the focus can be on playing fast and not having to worry about the situation.

After firing their last two head coaches following just one season with the team, Shanahan should have a much longer leash with the 49ers. He'll need to get the players to properly implement his offense. The tough task will now be putting together a coaching staff. Being the last head coach hired has allowed other new head coaches to get a head start on assembling their staffs.

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