Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

CBS Sports ranks four NFL head coaches ahead of 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan

Jun 30, 2020 at 8:45 AM--

Many consider San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan to be one of the most innovative young minds in football. After a massive rebuild that started in 2017, his squad reached the Super Bowl last season and was a play or two away from potentially winning a championship.

The 49ers could be a formidable obstacle to opposing teams for years to come. Or everything could collapse. You never know in the NFL. But Shanahan is amid a championship window, and fans are waiting to see if he can take advantage of it.

Writer Sean Wagner-McGough of CBS Sports recently ranked his top 10 NFL head coaches and listed Shanahan at No. 5 (h/t to Peter Panacy of Niner Noise). All four of the coaches ahead of him have something in common. Each has won at least one Super Bowl. Those coaches are Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, John Harbaugh, and Sean Payton.

Reid's Super Bowl victory came in February against Shanahan. Belichick has won six.

Shanahan owns a 23-25 regular-season record, which in itself is not too impressive. However, when you consider 22 of those losses came in his first two seasons, it paints a very different picture.

Shanahan had very little with which to work in 2017, the first year of his roster rebuild. Then, he lost his franchise quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, in Year 2 when many expected the 49ers to take a big step forward.

San Francisco had an opportunity to prove itself last season and did so by winning 13 games, the division crown, the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and a Super Bowl berth.

"Even though we finished 6-10 (in 2017) and 4-12 (in 2018), we still felt like we were winners," Shanahan said during last week's State of the Franchise event. "We felt like we were better than that record indicated, but we knew we had to prove it.

"Last year, we went out to prove that we were winners, and we could compete in every single game we were in, and we did that. And we did that as well as any team. In the games that we lost, we barely lost. And it felt like even though we lost a few, we could have won all those."

Recent success earned Shanahan a six-year extension, keeping the well-respected coach with the 49ers through the 2025 season, so he will likely have a chance to prove he can finally win the big game. That's exactly what he has his sights set on in 2020.

"I know we were good enough to win that Super Bowl, and we didn't," Shanahan added. "And that's something we've got to live with. And that's why the state of the franchise, right now, is we've got to get right back to that moment. We've got to get right back to that fourth quarter, and get to have a lead, and we've got to finish the job."

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