Kyle Shanahan doesn’t have time to rest.
After just completing a long, draining season as offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons – helping them reach the Super Bowl – Shanahan now takes over as head coach of the 49ers.
The long-anticipated hire is now official, with the team making the announcement Monday.
Shanahan takes over a team that’s a disaster. San Francisco went 2-14 in 2016, then fired its general manager and head coach. The Niners don’t have a quarterback right now, and there are big questions at wide receiver, the offensive line, tight end, inside linebacker and cornerback.
Shanahan, just 37, may need to take some time to recover from his intense year, but he can’t afford it. He’s going to dive right into his new job, which comes with a reported six-year deal. He’ll work in conjunction with John Lynch, recently hired to be the team’s GM to build a coaching staff and upgrade the talent on a thin roster.
“I am very excited to dedicate myself to the process that lies ahead,” Shanahan said. “The first step in that process is identifying talented individuals who love the game of football as much as John and I do – coaches, players and staff. We are looking for individuals who work hard and are dedicated to doing things the right way, always in the best interest of the team. Most importantly, we want to give our fans a team they can be proud of on and off the field.”
To do that, Shanahan and Lynch will likely have to start with an addition – or two – at quarterback. Shanahan was in charge of the league’s best offense in Atlanta this past season, but he had the benefit of the league’s MVP, Matt Ryan, at QB.
Unless the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick decide to extend their relationship – which would be a surprise – the 49ers are expected to bring in a veteran or draft a passer with the No. 2 overall choice in the draft. That will be the No. 1 ingredient to help put some excitement back in a 49ers offense that has been dull and ineffective.
Nick Wagoner, who covers the 49ers for ESPN.com, notes that one veteran who might follow Shanahan to the Bay Area is Matt Schaub, who was Ryan’s backup in Atlanta, because he knows Shanahan’s system.
If Schaub does come, however, it’s not likely to be as a starter, but for depth. Other veterans the 49ers have been reported to have interest in as possible targets for trades or to sign eventually as free agents if they are cut loose by their current teams are Kirk Cousins of Washington, Jay Cutler of Chicago and backup Jimmy Garoppolo of New England, who started in place of Tom Brady the first four games of 2016 when Brady was suspended.
Wagoner notes the 49ers have two things in their favor at QB for 2017: plenty of salary-cap space (about $80 million) and Shanahan’s history of working with quarterbacks. He was with Schaub in Houston, Cousins in Washington and Ryan in Atlanta.
“One of Shanahan’s career hallmarks has been his ability to get the most out of his quarterbacks,” wrote Wagoner.
But, Shanahan’s to-do list is long. And beginning Tuesday, he starts work on every item.