Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ronnie Lott praises Kyle Shanahan, compares coach to Bill Walsh

Jul 5, 2020 at 10:35 AM--

It's an honor to be compared to one of the greatest football minds in NFL history — legendary San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh. It's an even greater honor for one of Walsh's former players to do so.

Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott, who played eight seasons under Walsh, recently praised current 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan while comparing him to the late Bay Area icon. The hard-hitting safety was recently asked on SiriusXM NFL Radio about San Francisco's state as a Super Bowl contender.

"To me, they're there," Lott responded via "They're there on the offense, and the reason I think that they're there on the offense is that, and I've said this is, Kyle is our version of Bill Walsh. I think he's one of the most innovative guys in pro football when it comes to offense."

Walsh, who coached the 49ers from 1979 until 1988 and brought three Super Bowl championships (XVI, XIX, XXIII) to San Francisco, boasted an all-time winning percentage of .609, owned a 92-59-1 record, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 1993.

Walsh was twice named NFL coach of the year (1981, 1984), was part of the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, and was recently named to the NFL 100 All-Time Team. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 75.

Shanahan, 40, is entering his fourth season as the 49ers' head coach and recently signed a contract extension that keeps him with the team through the 2025 season. He owns a career record of 25-26 as a head coach, including postseason play (23-25 regular-season record). The coach guided the 49ers to the Super Bowl last season after a massive roster overhaul that started in 2017.

Shanahan's 25 wins are the fourth most (George Seifert — 42, Jim Harbaugh — 41, Steve Mariucci — 31) by a 49ers head coach in his first three seasons with the team, surpassing even Walsh, who earned 24 wins over the same timeframe.

"I like where they're at," Lott continued. "I like what they're doing," said Lott, whose rookie season was the one in which Walsh and Co. advanced to and won the 49ers' first Super Bowl in 1981. "I love the way that they built it from the guys up front, and now they're trying to hopefully be able to get the secondary even better.

"They got the ingredients. The question is that you're in a division that you've got some talent. I remember when John Robinson was coaching the Rams. You're in a division where there were certain teams you've got to beat. Right now, they're in a division where there's talent; there's a lot of talent.

"You've got the Rams who went to the Super Bowl. You got Seattle; that's a very talented team, and you got the Cardinals who are literally saying, 'We're coming after you guys.' That's where you gotta look at them and say they're competing and they've got to compete every week. But I gotta believe they're right there. They're right there because of what we saw last year."

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