49ers

How Kyle Shanahan matched Bill Walsh in first three seasons with 49ers

How Kyle Shanahan matched Bill Walsh in first three seasons with 49ers

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.

[RELATEDKey 49ers-Packers matchups in NFC Championship Game]

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.

Kyle Shanahan sees Jordan Reed as big 49ers contributor, if healthy

Kyle Shanahan sees Jordan Reed as big 49ers contributor, if healthy

Veteran tight end Jordan Reed seemingly is taking a huge risk with designs on a return to football after sustaining a seventh documented concussion a year ago.

But it is a risk that could pay off big for Reed and the 49ers this season, his first NFL coach said on Monday.

Kyle Shanahan was in his final season as Washington’s offensive coordinator during Reed’s first season after entering the league as a second-round draft pick. Now, Shanahan and Reed are back together after Reed agreed to a one-year contract on Monday.

“I know he hasn’t been on the field for a little bit. I know he’s very hungry to get back out there,” Shanahan said.

“When you have a talented guy who’s hungry to play football, it works out if they can stay healthy. And Jordan has had some bad luck over the years. I know he’s ready to go. I hope he has some good luck here. And if he does, I think it’s going to be a hell of a deal for the Niners and a really good deal for him, also.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Reed, 30, has appeared in just 65 games over the past seven seasons with Washington. He has 329 career receptions for 3,371 yards and 24 touchdowns. His best season came in 2015, when he saw action in 14 games and caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns.

He did not play last season after sustaining a concussion in a preseason game. The Washington Football Team released him in February.

“Everyone is aware of Jordan’s ability,” Shanahan said. “When he’s been healthy, he’s played at an extremely high level. And he’s been one of the first third-down tight ends in the league when he’s been healthy.”

[RELATEDShanahan optimistic 49ers, Kittle will get contract done]

Shanahan said he typically likes to bring six tight ends to training camp. It was a little more difficult this summer because teams have to trim to 80 players instead of the usual 90-man limits. But the 49ers found a way to add Reed, who figures to join a competition to become George Kittle’s backup.

Reed will compete with Ross Dwelley, Daniel Helm and sixth-round draft pick Charlie Woerner for the backup job.

“It's well-documented that he’s had multiple concussions prior,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “So in situations like this, there’s a reason that a guy like Jordan Reed is out there, right? There is some risk-reward. We got to a point where we felt the risk that we’re taking on was worth it with the potential reward.”

Trent Williams thrilled 49ers signed former teammate Jordan Reed

Trent Williams thrilled 49ers signed former teammate Jordan Reed

Trent Williams isn't the only former Washington Football Team player joining the 49ers this offseason.

San Francisco signed free agent tight end Jordan Reed to an incentive-laden one-year contract on Monday, hoping to put a steady backup behind All-Pro George Kittle. Formerly a third-round draft pick by Washington in 2013, Reed was a teammate of Williams in the nation's capital for each of the past six seasons. Williams expressed his excitement for Reed on his Instagram story Monday afternoon.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

A Pro Bowl selection in 2016, Reed missed all of the 2019 season after getting a concussion in the third preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. Like Williams, Reed finished the 2019 season on injured reserve. Washington released Reed in February.

Reed could see his role increased significantly early on with the 49ers if Kittle's contract negotiations continue to stall, as general manager John Lynch didn't give much of an update Monday on the conversations.

[RELATED: 49ers rule D.J. Reed out for year after surgery on torn pec]

“We’re working diligently to come to a resolution,” Lynch told reporters over Zoom on Monday afternoon.

Reed's concerning history with concussions wasn't lost on Lynch, but the 49ers clearly see the upside in a tight end with four 50+ catch seasons out of his six healthy NFL seasons.

“It's well-documented that he’s had multiple concussions prior,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “So in situations like this, there’s a reason that a guy like Jordan Reed is out there, right? There is some risk-reward. We got to a point where we felt the risk that we’re taking on was worth it with the potential reward.”