After two years out of football, former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan may be getting closer to getting a job.
The 49ers’ interest in Shanahan, who was fired in Washington after posting a 24-40 record over four seasons, has “ramped up considerably” since they interviewed him earlier this week, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.
Both Shanahan’s record and the ugly ending in Washington, as his relationship with quarterback Robert Griffin III deteriorated and was splashed all over TV and the Internet via various media leaks, have worked against him. And his age—he will turn 64 before the 2016 season starts—may have played a part in the reluctance of teams to seriously consider him for a head coaching job.
But perhaps the 49ers are hoping that Shanahan can have some of the same success he had in an earlier stint with the organization. He was their offensive coordinator in 1994 when they led the NFL in scoring and capped the season by scoring 44, 38, and 49 points in a playoff run that ended with a Super Bowl win over the Chargers. That got him hired as the head coach in Denver and he went on to win two Super Bowls there.
But that was a long time ago. In 14 seasons after that he won just one playoff game. The Redskins did make the playoffs with him in 2012 but they posted double-digit losses and last-place finishes in each of the other three seasons under Shanahan.
A potential issue in San Francisco might be about roster control. General manager Trent Baalke has it now but Shanahan likely would want at least some say in personnel. It could be a deal breaker or perhaps Shanahan is desperate enough to get back into coaching that he will forego control of the 53-man roster or agree to some sort of compromise.
The 49ers could be getting somewhat desperate, too. According to many reports, the 49ers’ first choice was Hue Jackson but he has signed to be the Cleveland Browns’ head coach. They interviewed Tom Coughlin earlier this week but he may be headed to Philadelphia. They appear to want an experienced head coach after admitting that they made a mistake in hiring Jim Tomsula, who was fired after one season. Their options are running out so even though Shanahan may not be an ideal fit he may be the best they can come up with.