49ers Reporter: "It’s Hard To Pick The True Bottom"

John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have revived a franchise that fired three head coaches in three years

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
January 21, 2020 - 9:29 am
Kyle Shanahan Jimmy Garoppolo

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The San Francisco 49ers had a rough couple of years from 2014 to 2018. In 2014, it was Jim Harbaugh’s last year, and there was no shortage of drama. The franchise followed that up with one year of Jim Tomsula and one year of Chip Kelly, during which the Niners went a combined 7-25. It was ugly.

But when did rock bottom come for this franchise?

“It’s hard to pick the true bottom,” NBC Sports Bay Area 49ers reporter Jennifer Lee Chan said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think that it was hard. Even Harbaugh, his last year, they went 8-8 – that was a tough locker room. The expectations were so high and the fall from grace was so quick and so fast. That might have been the most difficult year to cover [the team]. It was very challenging. And then after that, it was Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly. I think there was an expectation that they wouldn’t be as bad as they were, but they were really so bad.”

But then John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan happened. Together, they took a team from 2-14 in 2016 to the Super Bowl in three seasons.

That is, in a word, incredible.

“To watch them kind of build this, the last two years, it sound so cliche, but the locker room that they built, they were really a good group of guys to cover,” Chan said. “They were always pleasant. While they hate losing, there’s never any backstabbing, there’s never any finger-pointing, you never see a guy come to the sideline and throw his helmet – it’s just not that group of guys. They support each other. They are so close. You’ve got Emmanuel Sanders, who’s a vet, out there telling people, ‘Yeah, I want to be a bully. I want to go out there and block for the run game.’ That’s just unusual to see.”

The Niners beat the Packers, 37-20, in the NFC Championship on Sunday. They led 27-0 at halftime and never looked back. Several former Niner greats, including Jerry Rice, were in attendance. Rice, in fact, was running routes on the field before the game.

Lynch and Shanahan had a lot to do with that.

“Both have such strong ties to the organization, they really wanted to make sure those doors were open to all the alumni that wanted to come back,” Chan said. “It’s really been a change from when Harbaugh was there prior to that. They really have done a great job of bringing people back to the organization. It’s been really nice to see that, the regeneration of those relationships happen.”

The Niners will face the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2 in Miami. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. ET.