Earlier today, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch had their end of year press conference, and watching/listening to it really fired me up for next season (Now for the cruel, tortuous wait). If you didn’t get a chance to listen, check it out here- https://www.ninersnation.com/2018/12/31/18163532/kyle-shanahan-john-lynch-wrap-up-press-conference-2018-season-video-transcript
There are a TON of great soundbites and both guys showed their football acumen, although I thought Kyle Shanahan really showed just how much of a football genius he is. The biggest takeaway to me was Shanahan endorsing Robert Saleh, and, although it is not written in stone, basically confirming that Saleh will be back next year as defensive coordinator (he did mention if Bill Belichick became available, he would fire anyone and would hire him). This struck a cord with me, as we are coming off the worst season in NFL history (EVER!) in terms of takeaways, and ranked 28th in points allowed. This is obviously not the production the team was hoping for, and often times would result in the defensive coordinator being fired. I love that this new regime is willing to give guys time to right the ship, and firing coaches year after year very rarely results in anything positive *Cough the Cardinals are ridiculously stupid cough*, but I wish Shanahan had used a little more “coach speak” when asked about Saleh’s job security. Allow me to elucidate…
Kyle Shanahan not only said he intends on bringing Saleh back, but raved about his coaching style, game-planning and preparation, pronouncing “I’m with him every day. So, I know how good of a coach he is. I know how he is schematically. I know how he is dealing with the players. I know what he can handle just with his personality and how smart he is and that’s a lot”. While I am stoked to hear Shanahan rhapsodize about Saleh’s abilities, I am unsure I agree with endorsing him so heavily before we do our due diligence in regards to reaching out to newly available coaches. Just today, Steve Wilkes, Todd Bowles and Vance Joseph, three guys who are established, fantastic defensive minds, became available. Even someone like Marv Lewis, or dare I say Rex Ryan, could be open to coming in and helping our team. To me, it would be absolutely asinine to not approach all of these guys with the intent of bringing them in as defensive coordinator. Saleh could even test the market, and, if he doesn’t get any DC offerings, come back in a slightly reduced role (I don’t think he would have too much pride to do so, as this is his first coordinator job).
As I alluded to earlier, I HATE when coaches don’t get their fair share of time to improve and make an impact, but again, we had 7 takeaways as a team this year (3 guys had 7 interceptions themselves elsewhere in the league), and many blown coverages in the secondary. I pray Lynch and Shanahan give every single person they can a call, and see how the interview goes. Saleh very well could have great success either here or elsewhere, and I am hopeful this is the case, but I’ll be damned if we aren’t doing everything we can to improve immediately, and I firmly believe hiring Wilkes, Bowles, Joseph, or some others would turn our fortunes around. Here is to 2019 being the 49ers year!