SANTA CLARA -- Kyle Shanahan inherited a dilapidated roster when he agreed to lead the rebuilding effort as 49ers head coach in 2017.
Comparisons were immediately drawn to Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, who entered into the same challenge with the 49ers in 1979.
It took Walsh only three years to reach the pinnacle of the NFL world. And here is Shanahan in Year 3 keeping pace with Walsh’s amazing achievement.
Walsh compiled a 24-27 record in his first three seasons as head coach of the 49ers. After winning just eight games in his first two seasons at the helm, Walsh’s team went 13-3 in the regular season and 3-0 in the postseason to win Super Bowl XVI.
After the 49ers’ 27-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs on Saturday, Shanahan’s overall record now stands at 24-25, as discussed on The 49ers Insiders Podcast.
The 49ers will play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium with a trip to Miami for Super Bowl 54 on the line.
Like in Walsh’s third season, the 49ers under Shanahan went 13-3 in the regular season, won the NFC West and earned homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
“We knew coming into the season that we were going to have a chance to compete in every game,” Shanahan said. “(I) didn't really look at it much past that. Even when we were 8-0, that's all you look at. We thought we could compete in every game and we had won them up to that. We were like that all the way to the end.”
The Shanahan tenure could not have started in more agonizing fashion.
The 49ers began the 2017 season with nine consecutive losses, including a record five consecutive defeats by three points or fewer to the Seattle Seahawks, the L.A. Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts and Washington.
Joe Montana, a third-round draft pick in 1979, started a combined eight games in 1979 and ’80 before playing in every game in 1981.
Jimmy Garoppolo, acquired in a midseason trade in 2017, started eight games in ’17 and ’18. Garoppolo has started every game for the 49ers this season.
Shanahan and the 49ers are not finished this season, so he is reluctant to reflect on how far the 49ers have come in such a relatively short period of time. But he said he granted himself some a short period of time two weeks ago for reflection.
“Once we got into the playoffs and got that bye week, I did personally sit back for a day and think about the season,” Shanahan said. “It was great how we got home-field advantage. Once you get that, that is completely over. All you think about is this game. We just got that done. Not trying to go celebrate anything.
"We celebrated winning the division in the bye week, which was nice.”
Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers playoff coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday)
Also tune in at 2:30 p.m. Sunday for “49ers Pregame Live,” with Laura Britt, Jeff Garcia, Donte Whitner, Ian Williams and Grant Liffmann previewing the NFC Championship Game against the Packers. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on “49ers Postgame Live,” starting at approximately 5:30 p.m.