Kyle Shanahan: Certified Choke Artist


All-Pro Reels/Creative Commons

Kyle Shanahan on the sideline during a matchup with the Washington Redskins in 2019.

Kyle Shanahan is the most overrated coach in the NFL.

Nicknamed the “offensive genius” for incomprehensible reasons, Shanahan has been labeled as a top coach in the NFL ever since he took over the head coaching gig for the 49ers in 2017. However, what has he really shown to warrant that kind of praise?

Taking this prior to his tenure in San Francisco, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons when they blew the largest lead in Super Bowl history. Up 28-3 against the New England Patriots, Shanahan’s abysmal play-calling and lack of determination allowed Tom Brady and Bill Belichek to complete an unthinkable comeback on the biggest stage.

When Shanahan was granted the position of head coach for the 49ers, fans of the franchise were hoping he would bring the Lombardi Trophy back to the Bay Area.

Those fans were in for a frustrating ride.

In October of 2017, the 49ers traded for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with hopes that he could become the newest franchise QB for this team. After watching him win the final five games of the season in a mediocre and overpraised fashion, Shanhan panicked and made him the highest-paid player in the NFL at that time, after five games.

After an injury-riddled 2018 season, the 49ers shocked the NFL world and won 13 regular season games and met the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl the following year.

In the Super Bowl, the 49ers commanded the game for the first 53 minutes, but to nobody’s surprise, Shanhan ended up crumbling on the biggest stage once again. This was due to Shanahan’s terrible time management, atrocious play-calling, and a horrendous performance from Garoppolo.

San Francisco had a dominant run game for the entirety of the season, which is one of the main reasons that they even made the Super Bowl. However, Shanahan thought it would be a fantastic strategy to abandon that run game and place the game in the hands of vastly overrated and painfully below-average Garoppolo.

The following offseason, Tom Brady, the undisputed greatest quarterback of all time, was gearing up to leave the Patriots. Growing up in the Bay Area, his preference was to come home and play for his hometown team, the San Francisco 49ers. Shanahan, however, decided to stick with Garoppolo and reject Brady’s proposal. Absolutely mind-boggling.

After another injury-infested season, Shanahan decided to trade three first-round picks for a very talented but young and inexperienced quarterback, Trey Lance.

Instead of giving Lance the reps that he needed to grow as a football player, Shanahan made the decision to keep him on the bench for his entire rookie season, costing him one whole year of experience and forcing 49ers fans to sit through yet another season filled with grueling performances from Garoppolo.

Unsurprisingly, that season ultimately ended with another Shanahan and Garoppolo playoff meltdown.

For the 2022 season, Lance was finally named the starter.

Shanahan, who is regarded as an outstanding quarterback developer, utterly butchered Lance’s season in only the second game of the year.

Continuously running the young passer up the middle led Lance to suffer a broken ankle and ultimately miss the remainder of the season.

By analyzing the timeline of Shanahan, it is evident that his track record is severely underwhelming, considering a majority of NFL fans claim him to be the “offensive genius.”

The Shanahan coaching experience is not all horrible. He creates some effective schemes, establishes a commanding run game, and knows how to string together a good amount of regular season wins. There are still plenty of coaches that are worse than him.

However, the questionable and reckless play-calling, poor decision-making, terrible game management, and inability to close big games make it very difficult to label him as an offensive guru.

As an established choke artist, Shanahan will have to prove much more to be truly placed in the category with the elite coaches.