49ers Named Option for 4-Time Pro Bowl QB With Kyle Shanahan Experience

Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers talking to Matt Ryan.

With Brock Purdy’s availability for the start of the 2023 NFL season very much up in the air, John Lynch and the San Francisco 49ers will have to weigh all of their options to fill out a quarterbacks room that currently only features Trey Lance, according to Spotrac. Fortunately, Grant Cohn of All 49ers FN has an idea to fix that issue and reunite Kyle Shanahan with one of his former quarterbacks: Matt Ryan.

“Ryan currently is under contract with the Colts, but they almost certainly will release him in a few weeks, because doing so will save them more than $17 million in salary cap space,” Cohn said. “And if/when the Colts release him, Ryan will have to decide where he wants to spend the final season of his career, if he doesn’t retire.”

“No team will offer him a starting job at this point in his career. But the 49ers could offer him a one-year deal with incentives if he ends up playing. They also could offer him an opportunity to win a Super Bowl.”

“Ryan hasn’t played well the past two seasons, but he also hasn’t played for teams anywhere near as good as the 49ers. Perhaps they could rejuvenate his career for one year.”

After earning a 4-7-1 record with a QBR of 43.1, according to Pro Football Reference, Cohn is right that Ryan is unlikely to garner a starting opportunity if he’s released from the Colts. Though it’s impossible to know how much he has left in the tank, if he has any at all, Ryan did play for Shanahan from 2015-16 as his offensive coordinator in Atlanta and has spoken fondly about his former offensive coordinator as recently as January.

Matt Ryan Has Completed Kyle Shanahan’s Coaching in 2023

With the Colts eliminated from playoff consideration, Ryan took a gig at CBS sports to provide a current player’s perspective on the 2022 NFL Playoffs. When asked about Shanahan and how he could benefit from a young player like Purdy, Ryan noted that his former coach has a knack for getting the most out of his players.

“You know, I think that probably started when he got there,” Ryan told his fellow CBS panelists. “I think the level of teaching and how thorough and detailed he is, right from the start, I think that probably accelerated the process and got them to a point where they were comfortable with each other.”

“But Kyle’s got a knack for putting players in position to be successful and he’s done that his entire career. And I think Brock’s not the centerpiece of what they’re doing and he’s one of the parts who’s explosive and he’s got a lot of guys around him. And I think Kyle does a great job of asking him to play within his skill set.”

Under Shanahan’s watch, Ryan threw for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns on the way to his first, and to this point only, league MVP. If Ryan wants to continue playing in the NFL, reuniting with the coach who shepherded him to his greatest success in the NFL would make a lot of sense.

Could Matt Ryan be the San Francisco 49ers’ John Elway?

Could Shanahan actually revitalize Ryan’s career in San Francisco and give him one final shot at a Super Bowl ring? While Cohn doesn’t think Ryan is a magic pill or anything like that, there is a parallel between signing Ryan at 38 and his father’s run in Denver with John Elway.

“I’m not saying the 49ers should sign Ryan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do,” Cohn said. “Remember, Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike Shanahan, won his two Super Bowls with John Elway when he was 37 and 38. Matt Ryan will be 38 next season. Perhaps Kyle thinks Ryan is his Elway.”

When Shanahan’s father was hired by Denver, Elway was 35, and despite having six Pro Bowls on his resume, he didn’t yet have a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Broncos. While it wasn’t particularly common for quarterbacks to play into their late 30s, Elway won a Super Bowl in each of his final two seasons in the NFL under Shanahan’s watch. If Ryan can find similar success in San Francisco, it could play a big part in helping to cement his legacy as a Hall of Famer too.

Read More