49ers' reminded of good fortune after McDaniels' jilting of Colts


49ers' reminded of good fortune after McDaniels' jilting of Colts

The 49ers found their man, but they had to wait an excruciatingly long period of time before it could become official.

Now, every team that chooses to wait to hire a head coach will be tormented by the memory of Josh McDaniels and his broken promise to the Indianapolis Colts.

McDaniels was assumed to be the Colts’ next head coach for weeks. Indianapolis just had to wait until the New England Patriots’ season was over until it could become official.

Two days after the Super Bowl, the Colts announced the sides had agreed to terms with McDaniels to become their head coach. But just hours later, McDaniels bailed out of his commitment and decided to remain with Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

A year ago, McDaniels was a strong contender for the 49ers head-coaching opening. McDaniels and Kyle Shanahan – the offensive coordinators of the Super Bowl teams – were seemingly the only two serious candidates to replace Chip Kelly.

San Francisco executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe set out to find the right tandem of coach and general manager.

After years of conflict and incompatibility among their coach and general manager, York’s goal was modest: Find two people at the top of the football structure who could merely “work together.”

Fortunately for the 49ers, the dalliance with McDaniels never got too far.

The 49ers interviewed McDaniels on the same day he also sat down with Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers envisioned a coach-GM team of McDaniels and Patriots personnel executive Nick Caserio.

But Caserio chose not to interview with the 49ers, leaving McDaniels without a logical general manager candidate with whom to work. Shanahan was more flexible with the team’s list of potential general managers and became the coach candidate the 49ers saw as the better fit.

On January 16, three weeks before the Super Bowl, McDaniels officially withdrew from consideration for the job.

All the focus shifted to Shanahan, who shortly thereafter unofficially accepted the 49ers’ unofficial job offer. It was a family decision, and even Mandy Shanahan, Kyle’s wife, spoke with the 49ers to confirm the commitment.

While York and Marathe might have felt increasingly secure they had their man, there was plenty of anxiety with the 49ers’ fan base before the deal could become official.

Eight days before the Super Bowl, the 49ers were allowed to meet with Shanahan again. This time, the entire purpose of the meetings was to find the right general manager to work with Shanahan.

Arizona executive Terry McDonough and Minnesota’s George Paton were the known finalists for the job. But Shanahan, in secrecy, had his preference. The day after Shanahan took part in interviews with McDonough and Paton, the 49ers announced John Lynch as the team’s general manager.

There was never any drama, never any hint at the time Shanahan would get cold feet and change his mind.

One day after the Super Bowl, the 49ers announced Kyle Shanahan as their head coach – not an “agreement,” but an actual signed contract.

One year later, the 49ers have to feel fortunate. After all, the Colts saw how badly things can turn out when trust is placed in the wrong individual.


49ers DE Cassius Marsh blasts his time with Patriots: 'It was B.S. things they were doing'


49ers DE Cassius Marsh blasts his time with Patriots: 'It was B.S. things they were doing'

After claiming him off waivers in November last season, the 49ers have shown love and loyalty to defensive end Cassius Marsh. 

In his six games with the 49ers, Marsh's playing time significantly increased. In the NFL Draft, the team shied away from pass rushers thanks to Marsh's presence. 

The 25-year-old never felt this kind of love from his previous team, the New England Patriots. 

“They don’t have fun there. There’s nothing fun about it. There’s nothing happy about it. I didn’t enjoy any of my time there, you know what I’m saying?" Marsh said Saturday to the San Francisco Chronicle. "It made me for the first time in my life think about not playing football because I hated it that much.”

Marsh is speed rusher off the edge. In New England, they wanted him to shy away from his strengths and be a completely different player. 

"They asked me to do a bunch of stuff that I had never done: covering running backs and receivers and basically almost never rushing the passer, which is what I did in playing defensive line,” Marsh said.

The Patriots traded a fifth-round draft pick to acquire Marsh from the Seahawks in September of last year, signaling the team expected a big role. But Marsh's career as a Patriot ended after nine games with him playing just snaps in his final contest with the team. 

“I confronted (Belichick) about all the things that were going on,” Marsh said. “I won’t get into detail, but it was B.S. things they were doing. I just wasn’t a fan. And so I, basically, without asking to get cut, I kind of asked to get cut.

"I had confidence that I would have an opportunity elsewhere and I would take advantage of it.”

And take advantage of it he did. Marsh recorded two sacks and forced two fumbles in his six games as a 49ers. 

“Hopefully I’ll be a Niner forever," Marsh said. 

In February, the 49ers rewarded him with a two-year, $7.7 million contract extension. 

'Coach Sherman' stands out in first week of 49ers OTAs

'Coach Sherman' stands out in first week of 49ers OTAs

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was zipping passes to a variety of receivers at all different levels of the defense.

Running back Jerick McKinnon lined up at a number of spots in the 49ers’ offensive formation and caught passes with ease, showing the skills that prompted Kyle Shanahan to target him for his offense.

Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner looked as if he is ready to take the next step to become one of the NFL’s top defensive players.

But the star of the first week of 49ers organized team activities was a veteran player who has yet to be cleared for takeoff.

When the 49ers signed Richard Sherman shortly after the Seattle Seahawks released him, he said he envisions his contributions to his new team to be split equally between on and off the field.  And, sure enough, nobody appeared to be as engaged in the practices in Week 1 of OTAs than Sherman.

“It’s always nice when you have someone who has a lot of experience in a very similar system,” Shanahan said. “The foundation of it all came from the same spot, and when you’ve got a guy that has played in it that long and really started in that system and has kind of excelled in it as good as anyone, it’s nice to have.”

"Coach Sherman," as he's already being called, is embracing his role as a leader on the defense, as he mentors cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, Jimmie Ward and all of the newcomers. In his seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, Sherman was named to the Pro Bowl four times. The 49ers' defensive scheme is based on the Seattle defense.

During a period of practice this week when special teams took over, Sherman was also seen engaging in an animated conversation with Shanahan on the sideline going over some of the topics discussed in a team meeting.

“We both have a lot of history playing against each other’s teams so there’s lots of stuff that when we talk X’s and O’s, it brings up a couple plays from year’s prior,” Shanahan said. “We could sit there and hang out and talk all day about.”