Leading the Circus: How Kyle Shanahan Rises Above Media Sensationalism
Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
Being an NFL head coach in this era of increased media scrutiny has got to be tough.
If it isn’t hard enough to orchestrate a winning culture in an uncertain league with a lot of moving parts, head coaches must also put up with impatient fans and the overzealous media breathing down their necks.
It’s a wonder to think how 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has managed to stay above the fray despite another losing season when expectations were so high for San Francisco at the outset of their 2018 campaign.
Through Week 9, the Niners are 2-7, endured a number of debilitating injuries to several of its core players, became prone to turnovers and have had problems converting close games to wins.
And, with these bad times, the critics have come. From fans on Twitter to the media in general, an overall frustration has emerged with the losses piling up for the 49ers and a perceived lack of team discipline.
Yet, amidst the background noise, Shanahan has stayed positive and continues to remain steadfast in his support for his coaches. The locker room also endures as a tight-knit motivated group.
Proof came in the form of the Niners’ trouncing of Oakland at home last week. Both one-win teams, the Raiders gave up playing for their head coach during the game, while the 49ers looked tireless in their effort to get the win.
Veteran Niners cornerback Richard Sherman said after that game, “I think at the end of the day Kyle’s doing a phenomenal job keeping the ship steady. That’s why there’s no drama. There’s no controversy. There’s no guys throwing another guy under the bus or anything. Guys are just playing for each other, caring about one another and playing for their coach.”
This is a testament to Shanahan’s coaching style. It also says something about the players who the 38-year-old has surrounded himself with. He has a resilient bunch who show up week after week – THIS is what motivates Shanahan to rise above the volatility and ignore the criticism.
When a band of brothers withstands continued defeat and still have pride in one another, this is the backbone of a team overflowing with potential. It’s what Shanahan tries to instill in his players and ultimately, it’s where he’s been successful so far as a young head coach.
Shanahan’s team may be faulty in the discipline department at times, but they continue to take up the gauntlet behind second- and third-string quarterbacks. A lot of other head coaches cannot say the same.
There will be more negativity thrown at him from detractors and edgy fans, but it’s part of the rebuilding process. As long as he has the ear of his players and they continue to fight back against adversity, Shanahan will be just fine. And, so will the San Francisco 49ers.
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