Marcellus Wiley perceives San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s public search for a new quarterback as a way to throw his current QB under the bus for the team’s struggles last season.
Wiley, a former pro bowl defensive end who played 10 seasons in the NFL, lit into Shanahan earlier this week on the Fox Sports television show, Speak For Yourself.
Among other things, Wiley asserted that Garoppolo “made” Kyle Shanahan as an NFL head coach by leading his team to the Super Bowl two seasons past, and that Shanahan’s shopping for collegiate quarterback replacements is an attempt to turn Garoppolo into a “scapegoat” for the team’s failings last season.
“Jimmy G, who made Kyle Shanahan as a head coach, is now going to be made the scapegoat. But who is Kyle Shanahan?” Wiley asked. “Who is Kyle Shanahan without that last name? Who is Kyle Shanahan without Jimmy G?”
Who is 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan?
The question doesn’t appear complicated, at first. Shanahan is entering his fifth year as head coach of the 49ers. Before that, he spent nine seasons as an offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, Washington Football Team, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons.
During his time as a coordinator, Shanahan was widely regarded as one of the most talented and creative offensive minds in the NFL. That reputation followed him to San Francisco, where he turned around a struggling franchise and led them all the way to a 4th quarter lead in Super Bowl LIV before Patrick Mahomes stole the ring right off his finger.
Shanahan has a losing record as a head coach, 29-35, but some of that is owed to the state of the team upon his arrival. The 49ers went 6-10 last year in one of the toughest divisions in football and were riddled with injuries to a long list of key contributors, including Nick Bosa, George Kittle, Raheem Mostert and Garoppolo himself, just to name a few.
Vegas has set the over/under for San Francisco’s win total this season at 10.5, per NBC Sports’ Mike Florio, indicating that the odds experts expect Shanahan to be back in the winners’ circle this season to at least some degree. The team will play 17 games under the expanded NFL schedule.
Wiley Ties Shanahan’s Success to Garoppolo’s Presence
Wiley, however, viewed Shanahan’s track record through a different, less flattering prism, noting his career record as a head coach is below .500, but stands at 22-8 when Garoppolo starts under center.
“You’re, overall, just a losing head coach,” Wiley said, as though addressing Shanahan directly. “Even with Jimmy G trying to help you out, Coach Shanahan, you’re still not good enough. Do you want to know why? Because Shanahan, in his first two years, won 10 games total. Absolute. Combined.”
“And then, Jimmy G comes in that second year (and) they’re 1-10,” Wiley continued. “Flying in from Foxborough is Jimmy GQ to save the day and potentially save his job. Certainly, his reputation, Mr. Kyle Shanahan. Then, all of a sudden in that third year, first year as a full-time starter once Jimmy GQ is in the building, guess what they do? They go to the Super Bowl with Jimmy GQ.”
Wiley went on to say that parting with Garoppolo down the line, not to mention alienating him now, is a mistake.
While Garoppolo has undisputedly been a winner on the field in San Francisco, he’s spent almost as much time sidelined with injury. The quarterback has missed 23 games for the 49ers since joining the squad, including 10 last season.
Garoppolo’s lack of availability is likely a factor in Shanahan’s decision to pursue a rookie QB in the 2021 NFL Draft. In which case, the head coach is casting his quarterback as less of a scapegoat than a valuable asset that needs an equally valuable insurance policy.