Bill Walsh stands among the NFL's incomparable.
The legendary 49ers coach is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a reason as a three-time Super Bowl champion and offensive innovator. Not many match Walsh's impact on football. Could the next Walsh really be coaching the 49ers right now, though?
Ronnie Lott believes so.
"They're there on the offense and the reason I think that they're there on the offense is that, and I've said this is, Kyle [Shanahan] is our version of Bill Walsh," Lott said June 30 on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "I think he's one of the most innovative guys in pro football when it comes to offense."
Hall of Famer @RonnieLottHOF told us he believes the @49ers are building something special and they have the right man to lead them in Kyle Shanahan.....— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) June 30, 2020
"I think Kyle is....our version of Bill Walsh" #49ers
AUDIO 👇 pic.twitter.com/yrcMZGTrBD
The Hall of Fame safety played his first eight seasons under Walsh in San Francisco. He won three Super Bowls with Walsh as his coach and was a three-time All-Pro. Lott clearly knows Walsh's greatness and sees it in Shanahan.
Through his first three seasons coaching the 49ers, Walsh went just 21-27 in the regular season, while Shanahan was two games better, winning 23 regular-season games. But Walsh won the Super Bowl in his third season at the helm while Shanahan fell short, blowing a late lead to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
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Walsh's first season coaching the 49ers happened to be Joe Montana's rookie year. Montana perfectly fit Walsh's West Coast offense, and the two won three Super Bowls together. What Walsh did for Montana, Lott believes Shanahan can do the same for Jimmy Garoppolo.
"What I believe is that he's going to get better and the reason he's going to get better is that he's going to understand the offense better, he understands a lot more about the discipline of the offense and another thing I think is going be great for him is that being with the guy -- arguably the best offensive mind in football, that's Shanahan -- all of a sudden you have to be able to know that you're going to find ways to enhance your game because he's going to find ways to enhance your game," Lott said to NBC Sports Bay Area's Josh Schrock.
"Bill [Walsh] would enhance Joe's game because he found ways to understand what more Joe could do with his game, and that's the same with Jimmy."
Shanahan only has three years under his belt as a head coach. Those three years, though, are on par with Walsh.
It's impossible to say Shanahan is the next Walsh and will lead the 49ers to multiple championships. Getting a stamp of approval from an all-time great like Lott, however, certainly is an eye-opener.