ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio won’t let personal issues cloud his judgment when it comes to San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Florio and Shanahan have had a lingering feud for nearly a year, and the spats have gotten nasty at times. However, the NBC Sports analyst is willing to stay neutral and offer incredible praise for the veteran head coach.
Mike Florio thinks Kyle Shanahan can become the NFL’s next Bill Belichick
Do the 49ers have the next Bill Belichick on their sidelines? Florio thinks so, and he’s not referring to any of Shanahan’s assistant coaches.
On the July 8 episode of the PFT PM podcast, Florio made it clear he believes Shanahan has the potential to follow in Belichick’s footsteps — and yes, that includes eventually having six Super Bowl rings as a head coach.
“He is a genius when it comes to football, specifically offensive football. And but for a rash of injuries last year, possibly would have been back in the Super Bowl, could be back this year, could be in the annual conversation and ultimately could have as many rings as Belichick does.”Mike Florio
Florio is correct about Shanahan’s offensive prowess. While with the Falcons, he revived Matt Ryan’s career and turned him into the 2016 NFL MVP. 49ers star George Kittle, a fifth-round pick in 2017, is arguably the league’s top tight end. Shanahan also mentored Kirk Cousins and helped mold him into a capable NFL quarterback while in Washington.
Florio and Shanahan have had a lingering feud for months
Florio’s praise for Shanahan is especially interesting given their lingering issues over the last year.
In the summer of 2020, Florio suggested Shanahan had unrealistic expectations for the season ahead. Shanahan, understandably, believed the 49ers would reach the Super Bowl for a second straight year. When he appeared on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast last July, Shanahan joked he held off on speaking with Simms because Florio would use his words against him.
The two resumed their back-and-forth earlier this year. Before the 2021 NFL Draft, Shanahan made odd comments about Garoppolo’s future in San Francisco and if he’d be on the roster when the draft ended.
“I can’t guarantee that anybody on the world will be alive Sunday, so I can’t guarantee who will be on the roster on Sunday. So that goes for all of us.”
PFT writer Josh Alper published a story about those remarks titled: ‘Kyle Shanahan: No guarantee Jimmy Garoppolo will be alive or on roster Sunday.’ After Shanahan apologized for the comments, he took a shot at Florio while discussing the quarterback battle between Garoppolo and Trey Lance, the third overall pick, on The Michael Irvin Podcast in May.
“There’s a chance for that at every single position… so there definitely is [for] Trey,” Shanahan said. “I’m not trying to give Florio some headline that he makes an annoying statement out of, but hell yeah, there is.”
Florio responded, “First, Trey Lance has to make it to Sunday.”
Shanahan and the 49ers are facing a pivotal 2021 season
Florio has been around the NFL long enough not to make lofty comparisons by accident. His praise for Shanahan holds serious merit even after the 49ers’ third losing season in the coach’s four years.
But for Shanahan to achieve those goals anytime soon, he needs his team to stay healthy. Injuries have ravaged the 49ers throughout much of his tenure, and Garoppolo started only six games in 2020. Don’t let the 49ers’ Super Bowl appearance after the 2019 season distract you from the fact that Garoppolo missed 23 of a possible 32 starts in 2018 and 2020.
The injuries and recent Super Bowl appearance work in Shanahan’s favor to an extent. However, if the 49ers are healthier and still finish with a losing record, his job security will take a severe hit entering the 2022 season — and that’s even if the front office keeps him.
With that said, Belichick flamed out of his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns in the 1990s. If Shanahan isn’t long for the 49ers, he can still prove Belichick correct by turning another team — the Chicago Bears, anyone? — into a perennial Super Bowl contender.