San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan knows a thing or two about prolonged rebuilds. The 49ers hired Shanahan in February of 2017 to take over as the head coach of their football team — a decision that bore fruit in his third season as the head man in San Francisco in the form of a 13-3 season, an NFC Championship and a narrow loss to Kansas City in Super Bowl LIV.
But what is now easily forgotten is that the San Francisco 49ers under Shanahan’s watch started out 10-22 through their first two seasons together before their third-year explosion. In Shanahan’s first two seasons in San Francisco, the 49ers won three games before the month of December: they were a tough team to watch at times and a frustrating project. But they were that by design: the San Francisco 49ers were in the process of rebuilding.
That’s an effort the Miami Dolphins now find themselves in through Brian Flores’ first 20 games as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Miami is 6-14 with Flores at the helm, although they too caught fire late in the season last year — much like Shanahan’s first year with San Francisco.
So when Kyle Shanahan speaks about a rebuilding team, you can be sure to know he’s coming from experience. And Shanahan did offer some praise for Brian Flores and his Miami Dolphins team earlier this week.
#49ers coach Kyle Shanahan on #Dolphins and Brian Flores: “He’s got a very good team. They play hard. They obviously believe in him and they believe in each other. … When you’re [close] in every game that you play, that means you’re not far.”
— Safid Deen (@Safid_Deen) October 7, 2020
The 49ers lost six games in 2018 by one score on their way to a 4-12 record in Shanahan’s second season in San Francisco. Fast forward to today and the team is 15-5 in their last 20 regular season contests. The Dolphins are 0-2 thus far this season in one score games and could be headed to a similar script as San Francisco through the end of year two of their own rebuilding project.
The question will be how big of a step Miami can take in year three. If it comes anywhere close to what we saw from San Francisco, Brian Flores and the Dolphins will have quieted a whole bunch of the doubters by the end of 2021.