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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


Emmanuel Sanders to fans calling for 49ers firing: “Kyle Shanahan will be a Hall of Fame coach”

Feb 9, 2023 at 12:42 PM--


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When Emmanuel Sanders looks back, he sometimes regrets his decision to leave the San Francisco 49ers after the 2019 season. The wide receiver went on to play one season each for the New Orleans Saints and the Buffalo Bills.

"Obviously, I retired to Bronco, but it's a few times that I go to sleep, and I'm like, 'Man, should I have signed back with the Niners?'" Sanders said Thursday on KNBR's Murph & Mac show. "Because, man, that energy, and walking out with the boom box with [WR] Deebo [Samuel] and all those guys, the Bay Area music, and that crowd just rocking, man. I remember leaving the Broncos, being traded midseason, and getting to that stadium, and I was just like, 'Man, this is where I belong.'

"It was just something about the energy of that year. Man, I'll forever love Bang Bang Niner Gang."

There has been a very vocal minority that has been so unsatisfied with the 49ers' failure to win a championship during Kyle Shanahan's six seasons with that team that they have called for the head coach's firing. Now an NFL Network analyst, Sanders doesn't understand that thought process.

"Someone told me last year, they were like, 'Yeah, the Niners are getting ready to fire Kyle Shanahan.'" Sanders said. "Are you crazy? Are you really crazy? I would never let Kyle Shanahan go. I've been on five different organizations. Kyle Shanahan will be a Hall of Fame coach. He was born to do this.

"Now, sometimes teams get spoiled, okay? 'Oh, we almost made it.' And [in] the disappointment of almost [making] it, 'We need to get rid of this guy.' But imagine not even almost getting there. That's the type of situation that you'll get yourself into when firing a coach like Kyle Shanahan.

"You got to appreciate the fact that you go into games, every game, with an opportunity. You're in an NFC Championship Game last year. You were in it this year with Mr. Irrelevant at quarterback. You know what I mean? Yeah, you're getting close, but at least you're riding that wave or that high of having a good football team, of wearing the San Francisco Niners logo with pride, knowing that we got a winning organization. We got a winning coach.

"We got a coach who's legendary, a coach who's always ahead of the defensive coordinator, a coach who's feared on the opposite side, a GM (John Lynch) who's bringing in the Christian McCaffreys, the Deebo Samuels, the Nick Bosas, that also has the Bay area lit."

Sanders isn't alone in thinking the 49ers and their fans would be crazy for wanting to part ways with Shanahan. Hall of Fame quarterback turned ESPN analyst Steve Young was also critical of that line of thinking.

"I don't know how to say this more forcefully," Young said during a CBS interview this week. "Like, you've got to stop. You have no idea what you're talking about. There's three or four geniuses in the NFL, this generation. He's one of them. So, like, knock it off. You want to peck at him just for fun, that's just life. But if you're actually going to substantively come at him that he doesn't know what he's doing—I've said many times. If I could pick anywhere in the league right now, and not because I'm a Forty-Niner for life, but if I could pick anywhere, step back and say, 'Where do you want to play?' I'm telling you, I want to play in this offense with these guys, with that coach."

Shanahan has helped the 49ers reach the NFC Championship Game three times in the last four seasons, doing so this season after losing two starting quarterbacks and pushing forward with a rookie in Brock Purdy, the last overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Sanders added, "The Niners are going to have their time. They just got to be patient. But definitely don't get rid of Kyle Shanahan. What he's doing out there is special."



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