Bill Walsh

Ronnie Lott believes Kyle Shanahan is 49ers' new version of Bill Walsh

Ronnie Lott believes Kyle Shanahan is 49ers' new version of Bill Walsh

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."

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.

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

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."

[RELATED: Why 49ers should look into Njoku trade, pair him with Kittle]

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.

49ers Ultimate Draft: Biggest surprises from Papa vs. Maiocco outcome

49ers Ultimate Draft: Biggest surprises from Papa vs. Maiocco outcome

Editor’s note: The voice of the 49ers, Greg Papa, takes on NBC Sports Bay Area 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco in the 49ers Ultimate Draft. They both chose a stacked squad full of legends from the past and your favorite players from today. Our team of experts will dissect and analyze the merits of each team until a winner is crowned.

The teams have been picked. The scores have been predicted. So, what were the biggest surprises from the outcome of the 49ers Ultimate Draft?

NBC Sports' Greg Papa and 49ers insider Matt Maiocco both put in valiant efforts in attempting to build two squads formed entirely of the greatest players from 49ers franchise history. However, based on the analyses of NBC Sports Bay Area's Dalton Johnson, Josh Shrock and Grant Liffmann, it would appear one effort was substantially better than the other.

Don't believe me? Watch the video above.

Now, for the biggest surprises ...

1. Bill Walsh's team got blown out

Johnson predicted Team Papa would win 34-17, while Schrock had the score 42-10 in Papa's favor. Liffmann didn't provide a final score, but decided Team Maiocco would lose by 40 points.

All combined, that's an average margin of defeat of 29.7 points for Walsh and Team Maiocco. If that looks odd to you, well, it should. Throughout the entirety of Walsh's 10 seasons as coach of the 49ers, they only lost one single game by more than 22 points -- a 59-14 road loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6 of the 1980 season.

Joe Montana missed that game, and clearly, San Francisco struggled. Walsh didn't have Joe Cool this time around either, and got a similar result.

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

2. Hidden ambitions

Leave it to Liffmann to go full conspiracy theory on us.

At first glance, his suggestion that Maiocco intentionally drafted an inferior team to secure the No. 1 overall pick in the ensuing NFL draft seems farfetched. Then again, just go back and look at the order in which the players were picked.

Team Maiocco literally lost to a legendary team in this simulation, but maybe that was the plan all along ...

3. Modern 49ers insider goes old school

Generally speaking, Maiocco reached further back into the past for his players than Papa did. As NBC Sports' Laura Britt suggested, perhaps he was unfairly penalized for that. After all, Jerry Rice and Patrick Willis carry more name cache than, say, Billy Wilson and Matt Hazeltine. Not to mention, their highlights are much more readily available.

While the 49ers have a long history as one of the NFL's premier franchises, it was a bit surprising to see Maiocco select so few players from recent 49ers teams. After all, one would assume he knows those players best. Then again, maybe that's why he picked the players he did.

[RELATED: Willis? Gore? Owens? Ranking 49ers' best players of 2000s]

Of the few modern 49ers players Maiocco did pick, he got some good ones.

"Joe Staley and George Kittle," Britt said, "they'll getcha."

If you want to buy your favorite 49ers jersey from the past or present, click here.

49ers Ultimate Draft winner: Jerry Rice, Joe Montana too talented to beat

49ers Ultimate Draft winner: Jerry Rice, Joe Montana too talented to beat

A winner had to be crowned, feelings had to be hurt. But how do you pick a victor between two teams full of all-time great 49ers? 

You set up a Zoom with four people who have too much time on their hands, of course. 

The 49ers Ultimate Draft featured eight Hall of Famers for Team Maiocco and seven for Team Papa. They also differed in eras.

While Papa's team featured a player who dated as far back as 1952, Maiocco's team was littered with single-bar helmet stars. Those players dominated their eras, but could they handle modern athleticism? Our experts say no. 

Here's how our roundtable chose the winner of the 49ers Ultimate Draft. 

Dalton Johnson: Papa 34, Maiocco 17

"Matt, you know the Niners, you're a great reporter, obviously you have knowledge. You know your beer, maybe you had too many right here. I'm sorry, but you're not John Lynch and in this case, you're not Greg Papa." 

Team Maiocco has an advantage with Bill Walsh as their head coach. Walsh always was one step ahead and could have schemed up some unstoppable plays for Steve Young and George Kittle. In the end, though, Papa's team is just too talented and athletic. 

With Joe Montana as his quarterback and both Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens as his options out wide, plus Roger Craig catching balls out of the backfield, this team is going to put up points.

Then on defense, Papa has Deion Sanders and Jimmy Johnson to lock up Dwight Clark and Billy Wilson, and Patrick Willis is the perfect linebacker to spy Young. And good luck trying to block a defensive line that includes Charles Haley, Bryant Young and Dana Stubblefield.

Oh yeah, and my team beats Team Schrock in our redraft. Papa, want to be co-owners?

Josh Schrock: Papa 42, Maiocco 10

"I think if we learned anything from this past year's 49ers, it's this is gonna be won in the trenches. And Papa's defense -- Bryant Young, Charles Haley, Patrick Willis, Dana Stubblefield are going to absolutely maul the likes of, God bless them, Forrest Blue, Howard Mudd, Bob St. Clair.

"I don't even really know how Maiocco's gonna move the ball except for them just feeding George Kittle. Deion Sanders and Jimmy Johnson can lock up Dwight Clark and Billy Wilson."

Bill Walsh is great, no doubt. But Maiocco really put his team at a talent disadvantage in this one, and there's only so much a great coach can do.

I'm fairly certain Bryant Young, Charles Haley and Patrick Willis would bench press Howard Mudd and Bob St. Clair. While those were great players in their era, Papa just has a different caliber of athlete. I really don't think this one should be all that close.

As I showed in the re-draft against Team Johnson, I have a better grasp of how to win these hypothetical matchups. Perhaps Maiocco would like to team up. But I get the final say on selections.

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

Grant Liffmann: Papa wins by 40, but Maiocco has a strategy

Grant first wanted to remind us that Matt Maiocco is smarter than us (thanks, Grant) and he believes the longtime 49ers insider has a plan. 

"If Matt Maiocco wants to lose a game, he has a strategy behind it. So I think Matt Maiocco loses the game, but he's playing for next year's draft pick." 

But what about the score, Grant? 

"Oh, Papa's gonna win by 40."

[RELATED: Rice, T.O. vs. Lott? Key matchups in 49ers Ultimate Draft]

Laura Britt: Maiocco wins (score doesn't matter)

Laura is staying loyal to her podcast co-host and believes that Maiocco's deep knowledge of the 49ers beats us all. 

"I have to pick Team Maiocco here. I believe Maiocco has been in the trenches with these teams for the past almost 30 years. He's seen a lot of players come in and out of the locker room, come in and out of this franchise, and that ol' George Kittle and Joe Staley, they'll get ya."