Five more weeks of the offseason before we begin to see if Kyle Shanahan can emulate Jim Harbaugh by taking a 6-10 team and turning it into a 13-3 playoff team.
Some might say that’s not a fair contest, since Harbaugh’s team was loaded and this current team is not. There’s only one position on Shanahan’s team that is superior. And that position is kind of a big one — the QB. Harbaugh had Alex Smith and Shanahan has the unbeaten super star in the making Jimmy Garoppolo. Which team would you bet on?
And let’s face it, Shanahan has already bettered the records of Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly. The next step up the mountain is Harbaugh. That’s where the bar of excellence resides.
There’s Bill Walsh, George Seifert, and Harbaugh. The Mount Rushmore of 49er head coaches. Walsh had Seifert, Seifert had Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan, and Harbaugh had Vic Fangio. Kyle has Robert Saleh. Will these two someday join the elite three?
2018 is probably a more critical year for Saleh than Shanahan, who already has a successful NFL resume, albeit only as a coordinator. The defense needs to make significant improvement this year if Saleh wants to make his mark as a superior NFL coordinator and Shanahan wants to be considered a great HC as well as a great OC.
So the 2018 spotlight will be on Saleh’s defense and Garoppolo’s effort to join the elite ranks of NFL QBs. The fate of the franchise rides on the outcome.