If Kyle Shanahan does come to the 49ers as the team’s next head coach, as expected, the franchise may be getting a man whose abilities as a talent evaluator are as good as his expertise in Xs and Os.
That ability, paired with new general manager John Lynch, may be a key component in the franchise’s hopes to rebuild a roster that this past season was perhaps the worst in the NFL.
Shanahan, currently the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, who play the New England Patriots Sunday in the Super Bowl, has had significant input into the players on the Falcons offense the past two years, says Atlanta quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur.
LaFleur told Dan Graziano of ESPN this week that Shanahan lobbied for the signing of free-agent wide receiver Mohamed Sanu this past offseason, and Sanu responded by becoming a big part of the team’s passing game in 2016.
“He’s an excellent player evaluator, and I think he can evaluate any position,” said LaFleur, who’s worked with Shanahan on staffs in Houston, Washington and Atlanta. “He has a vision for what he wants and he knows how to find those players to fit exactly what that vision is. He can recognize what players do well and put them in position to be successful. I think that’s one of his best attributes.”
That’s been a problem in San Francisco, where it often seemed that former GM Trent Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh (among others) weren’t on the same page with draft picks and roster needs.
For now, at least, it appears Shanahan and Lynch may be on the same wavelength when it comes time to start evaluating players and roster needs in the draft and free agency.
Shanahan helped pitch Lynch to CEO Jed York, and when the two have talked about each other the past week they’ve been supportive.
“If I’m going to bet on anybody, I’m going to bet on John Lynch,” Shanahan told Nick Wagoner of ESPN this week. “He’ll have to learn some stuff as he goes, just like we all do, but you’re going for the person. John Lynch has succeeded in everything, and that excites me about him. The people who know him know how special of a guy the 49ers got.”