Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports


Shanahan Shows His Value on Saturday, Cable Disappoints

Jan 17, 2017 at 7:22 AM


Just two names remain in San Francisco's coaching search, but only one deserves to be there.

Monday's report on Josh McDaniels wasn't welcome news for 49ers fans. Citing concerns over moving his family across the country for a job that could be taken abruptly, McDaniels will be staying in Foxborough for the foreseeable future. Scratching his name off York's shortlist leaves only Kyle Shanahan to give fans hope and Tom Cable to torment their fears.

Missing out on a talented candidate happens in coaching searches – it happened earlier this offseason when Sean McVay was hired by the Rams. McDaniels has been gracious in everything he's said on the subject, but the rejection confirms what many fans thought from the beginning: Jed is reaping the instability he's sown, and McDaniels' decision to stay away from San Francisco is the fruit of York's labors.

With only Shanahan and Cable remaining, fans are left wondering if history will repeat itself in the coming week. Will the 49ers find themselves coached by the lesser option yet again? It's an all-too-familiar narrative, and nothing made the differences between the two candidates more clear than Saturday's divisional round matchup between the Falcons and Seahawks.

Seattle Flounders Against the Falcons


The Seahawks' defense had a long flight back to Seattle Saturday night, giving them plenty of time to think about their inability to stop the Falcons this weekend.

Very little went wrong for Shanahan's offense on Saturday as they punched their ticket to the NFC Championship Game. The Falcons were favored heading into their matchup with Seattle, and they lived up to every ounce of hype. Shanahan taught a masterclass on how to face the Seahawks this weekend, and if any fans didn't have interest in him before, he has the undivided attention of the Faithful now.

Under Shanahan's play-calling, the Falcons put points on the board on 66.6% of their drives, punting only three times. Matt Ryan and Atlanta's receivers made fools of the Legion of Boom on drive after drive – finding the endzone three times through the air. Most importantly, it wasn't just receivers winning their matchups that ignited the passing game: Shanahan schemed receivers open and made Ryan's job easier throughout the game.

Shanahan obviously has a lot of talent at his disposal in Atlanta, and Seattle came to this game with key injuries. Both factors contributed to Atlanta's success on Saturday. Still, the Falcons gained 422 yards under Shanahan against a team the 49ers haven't beaten since 2013 – with San Francisco averaging only 227.3 yards of offense in their last six losses to the Seahawks.

Cable's Offensive Line Fails to Impress


Ethical concerns aside, the fact that Cable collects a paycheck as a coach in the NFL is mystifying to me, and his offensive line unit showed why on Saturday.

To clarify: there's poor offensive line play and there's 'causing a safety by stepping on the quarterback's foot.' The Seahawks offensive line provided the latter. Surrendering a safety to an aggressive pass rush is embarrassing enough, but gift-wrapping two points for your opponent in a playoff game is absurd. Even outside of the safety, the pass blocking was sub-par throughout the game, surrendering three sacks and seven quarterback hits. Of Russell Wilson's two interceptions, the first was directly caused by Atlanta's disruptive pass rush. Seattle often gets away with performances like these thanks to Wilson's improvisation, but it caught up with them on Saturday.

High sack totals are nothing new in Seattle, but Cable's inability to adjust to Seattle's evolving offense has been an obvious weakness for the team. In 2014, the Seahawks averaged 172.6 yards per game on the ground. That number fell to 141.8 yards per game the following year and 99.4 yards per game this season. Losing Marshawn Lynch forced Seattle to rely on Wilson's arm and Cable hasn't adjusted to make life easier for the Seahawks' quarterback. Cable represents the Achilles heel of the Seahawks offense, and that was on full display Saturday.

Seattle's front office also deserves some blame for not drafting quality offensive linemen in recent years, nor retaining talent to protect continuity. However, giving Cable a pass because his front office hasn't enabled success is hypocritical considering Chip Kelly's recent dismissal. Simply put: don't fire a coach who was given nothing to work with by Trent Baalke only to hire another coach coming from a similar position. That won't reestablish anything.

Looking Ahead


With the Patriots possibly poised for another trip to the Super Bowl, the only silver lining to come from McDaniels' withdrawal is a speedy resolution to the 49ers' coaching search. However, the stress of knowing that Cable will be available as an option for York throughout the weeklong wait for Shanahan will test the endurance of 49ers fans.

So, cheer for Aaron Rodgers to continue his unearthly performance this Sunday and send the Falcons into the offseason. Hope that someone in Santa Clara deletes Tom Cable's number from Jed's phone. Fingers crossed and knock on wood we make it through the week without a press conference announcing the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

The choice is obvious to everyone. We can only hope Jed sees it that way too. For fans watching a franchise in freefall the question remains: does Jed pull the ripcord and soften the 49ers' landing or do we learn yet another lesson in redefining 'rock bottom?'
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Looks like the Niners may luck into good hires. Shanahan and Wolf would be a great combo. I pray that they don't screw this up at the last minute which they have a history of doing.
    Jan 18, 2017 at 8:23 AM
    0
  • NinerMac
    I have to admit, before Saturday, I was leaning toward McDaniels. But after watching the Falcons keep the Seahawks defense off balance and pick them apart, I changed my mind. I liked Shanahan. I just hope he doesn't bow out either.
    Jan 17, 2017 at 8:24 AM
    0

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