Colin Cowherd

Why Colin Cowherd would hire 49ers' Kyle Shanahan to coach his NFL team

Why Colin Cowherd would hire 49ers' Kyle Shanahan to coach his NFL team

There currently are 32 NFL franchises, and for the vast majority of us, at no point during our lives will we have any chance of owning one of them.

But, forget reality. What if you were able to purchase a team? Who would you hire as head coach?

Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd gave his answer to that question Wednesday, but first established the five criteria by which he would form his list of the top 10 coaches he'd want to lead his franchise. They were:

1. Age does not matter 
2. Easy to work with 
3. The less controversy, the better 
4. Innovative thinker 
5. Relates to players

Based on those criteria, Cowherd landed on 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan as his top choice (h/t 49ers Web Zone).

"I know he has had a couple of Super Bowl moments you don't love," Cowherd explained Wednesday on "The Herd," "but I think San Francisco was right. I think he's intense. I think he has got the lineage from his dad (Mike Shanahan). I think he has a system, but he is nimble enough to manipulate the system and listen to (general manager) John Lynch and others. I think he's obsessively driven, which is probably most of these guys.

"But if I start my franchise today, I get the (experience from his) dad, I get him, I get playoff experience, and I also think he has got a chip on his shoulder because he thinks he should have won that Super Bowl last year. And he thinks he should have won that Atlanta Super Bowl against New England when he was the [offensive coordinator]."

Though the 49ers don't have new owners, they clearly share similar feelings about Shanahan, having just recently signed him to a six-year contract extension. He led San Francisco to a nine-win improvement this past season, and already has made it clear the expectation is to get back to the Super Bowl for a second straight year.

[RELATED: Bryant Young knows 49ers in good hands with Shanahan, Lynch]

Should the 49ers accomplish that goal -- and prove victorious in Super Bowl LV -- what few criticisms there are of Shanahan no longer would be valid.

For reference, here is Cowherd's full list:

1. Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
2. Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills 
3. Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles 
4. Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams 
5. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens 
6. Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears 
7. Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins 
8. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma Sooners 
9. Urban Meyer, formerly Ohio State Buckeyes 
10. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

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

How 49ers' dominance has instilled fear in Seahawks, rest of NFC West

How 49ers' dominance has instilled fear in Seahawks, rest of NFC West

The Seattle Seahawks reportedly were having internal discussions about signing talented, but controversial free-agent wide receivers Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon as recently as this week.

Regardless of how you would view those potential signings, it's difficult to deny that they lend even more weight to Colin Cowherd's theory about the 49ers' dominance.

Essentially, Cowherd believes the recent major moves the other teams in the NFC West have made have been in direct response to San Francisco's ascendance. 

"I think the San Francisco 49ers are so formidable," Cowherd said Wednesday on "The Herd," "that it is forcing everybody in their division -- Seattle, the L.A. Rams and Arizona -- to take big swings. 

"When you wake up in the morning in that division and you look at San Francisco, you see what appears to be the best young coach in the NFL, the best tight end in the NFL, the best defensive line -- and most are really, really young and getting better. You have a better-than-average young franchise quarterback that could be there for 10 years, and a front office that appears to know what they're doing. It's scary."

Last season, the Seahawks signed Gordon off waivers in the week before their first matchup with the 49ers. San Francisco was undefeated (8-0) at the time. A few weeks prior, the Rams paid a king's ransom in trading for cornerback Jalen Ramsey. And earlier this offseason, the Cardinals traded for All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins after the 49ers nearly won the Super Bowl.

While all of those players are extremely talented in their own right, Cowherd doesn't view the timing of those transactions as random. Rather, he sees them as attempts by those teams to do what they can to prevent the gap between them and San Francisco from growing any further. He equated it to the SEC's reaction to Alabama coach Nick Saban's dominance and the AFC East's response to the New England Patriots' superiority.

[RELATED: Bosa, 49ers entering 2020 season with 'win-now' mentality]

"San Francisco's not going away," Cowherd continued. "They just gave Kyle Shanahan another extension. [Jimmy] Garoppolo got to a Super Bowl in his first full year -- he's 21-5 -- as a starter. [Nick] Bosa is better than we thought he would be in the NFL. George Kittle is unguardable, and all those young receivers like Deebo [Samuel] appear to be getting better by the game.

"So I think at some point, there's a Niner fear in that division. You better take some big cuts and big swings and big chances, or you're gonna be buried by that Niner avalanche for a long time."

The 49ers deservedly have a target on their backs in the NFC West. That likely will only add to the challenge of getting back to the Super Bowl, but you can be sure any of their divisional opponents gladly would trade places.

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

49ers make sense for Aaron Rodgers if he leaves Packers, Colin Cowherd says

49ers make sense for Aaron Rodgers if he leaves Packers, Colin Cowherd says

It has been theorized that the 49ers' decision to trade up and draft receiver Brandon Aiyuk could indirectly lead to a divorce between Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. And if the franchise quarterback departs from the only franchise he has ever known, it wouldn't be surprising if San Francisco looked into bringing Rodgers back to the Bay Area, much like the 49ers recently considered doing with Tom Brady.

Now, obviously, a few things likely would have to occur in order for that scenario to play out. For one, San Francisco would have to come to the conclusion that it was time to move on from Jimmy Garoppolo, whose contract the 49ers can easily rid themselves of after the 2020 season if they so wish. Additionally, Rodgers' relationship with the Packers would have to continue to deteriorate to the point that Green Bay was motivated to end its partnership with the legendary QB.

The latter seems more likely than the former -- certainly so at the present moment -- but it's not unreasonable to envision a scenario in which Rodgers is starting behind center for the 49ers in the not-too-distant future. And, if Rodgers plays for a second team other than Green Bay, Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd views San Francisco as one of three logical destinations for the former Cal product.

"Garoppolo has been hurt a couple times," Cowherd said Thursday on "The Herd". "[Coach] Kyle Shanahan is tired of losing big games. He's tired of being in those Super Bowls as a head coach or coordinator and losing leads. Aaron ... played at Cal ... house in Malibu. 49ers in two years, Garoppolo gets hurt or underachieves, contract's over. Boom."

Along with the 49ers, Cowherd mentioned the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints as potential landing spots for Rodgers, whether it be taking over for an underperforming Justin Herbert or replacing another legendary QB in Drew Brees. In any case, Cowherd assumes that Rodgers isn't going anywhere for at least two years, due to his large cap hit. And while that's generally a good bet, Cowherd isn't entirely correct.

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

Rodgers will be the Packers' starting quarterback in 2020. Financially, it doesn't make any sense for Green Bay to cut or trade him during the 2020 league year. However, as soon as March 2021, the Packers could cut or trade Rodgers and generate considerable cap space in doing so. As Over The Cap's Jason Fitzgerald excellently summarized, as a general rule, the longer Rodgers remains with the Packers, the more it will make sense for Green Bay to move on from him.

If the Packers trade Rodgers prior to March 19, 2021, they would free up about $4.8 million in cap space. Depending on how significantly league revenue is impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that might not be chump change. Rodgers will have just turned 37, and surely would still bring back significant value in a trade.

But, if Green Bay holds onto Rodgers for just a few additional months, that's when the major cap savings would kick in. If the Packers were to cut Rodgers as a post-June 1 designation in 2021, the resulting dead money would be split fairly evenly over the ensuing two seasons, and Green Bay would generate $22 million in cap space.

If the Packers were to retain Rodgers for the next two seasons as Cowherd assumes and then cut or trade him, the dead-money hit would be cut nearly in half, and Green Bay would create nearly $22.7 million in cap space. In theory, that would also coincide with the timing in which the Packers were ready to hand the reigns over to Jordan Love.

The 49ers have every reason to have confidence in Garoppolo, and Shanahan anticipates he'll put together the best season if his career in 2020. It's Super Bowl or bust for San Francisco, but even if Garoppolo has an MVP-like season, if the team falls short of its goal, his seat will be hot.

[RELATED: Williams looks forward to rejoining Shanahan with 49ers]

The fact that Rodgers and the Packers appear to be approaching the end of their partnership is unlikely to cool it down.