• Scott Young

Mr. Shanahan's Wild Ride: Why the Unknown Makes the Draft More Fun

Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann

I don't consider myself an offensive genius in the sport of football.

Crazy, I know. What with so many available to us on twitter.com.

That's not quite my thing though. I can look like one, but only on Madden. On “easy.” Against the computer. And even then it's a 60 percent chance of a flawless victory.

My thing is pop culture. I'd be glued to the TV on Sunday's watching the Niners, but Fridays and Saturdays would see me watching monster movie marathons with a redneck formerly known as John Bloom, and was also the resident walking encyclopedia at my local Blockbuster.

And that's OK!

Not everyone can be an offensive genius. You can be an offensive genius like stand-up comedian Anthony Jeselnik, but to paraphrase Jason Lee's character Syndrome in "The Incredibles" (see?), "If everyone is super, then no one is."

It works with football too. If everyone is an offensive genius in football, then no one is.

So why make this point?

Because if everyone on the internet were capable of thinking about the game in the way 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan does, there'd be a much more diverse level of coaches and, let's be real, the AFC East would probably be a lot more fun to watch.

Obviously it's good to make predictions. It's good to make compelling content for people to consume until the draft starts. Unfortunately, no one anticipated the 49ers trading up to the third overall pick. Even more unfortunate is the fact that not one single NFL insider, analyst, or commentator knew it was happening before it did. We all found out together.

This hurt a lot of egos, both within the national media and within the 49ers news zeitgeist.

But that's part of what makes football fun. That's what can unlock the obsession in a casual fan, and can turn football from something one would enjoy a few months in the fall and winter into a full year of updates, notifications and debates.

It can be fun to not know things. It can be fun to be patient. To allow "what-ifs" to dance around in your head like the sugar plums in the poem “'Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Part of the fun of going to the movies as a child is the anticipation of getting your ticket checked on a Friday night with all of your friends ready to watch the newest and greatest summer blockbuster.

Then Friday night turned into a Friday midnight showing! That brought its own level of excitement because you knew everyone was just as excited and hyped as you were. (When I went to the midnight showing of “Iron Man” 12 years ago, a guy we were blessed to have been in the theatre with came in a homemade cosplay of the first Iron Man suit. By that I mean he wrapped himself in aluminum foil mummy style and taped a tap light to his chest)

Then Friday midnight turned into Thursday at 7pm.

Then movie openings kind of just stopped being fun.

The same can happen with football. When information and peeks behind the curtain and sourced info is so readily available, it feels taboo. It causes that rush of serotonin. It makes you crave more.

On the flip side, when information is so readily available, information is much more likely to be wrong.

Look at it from Shanahan's perspective: The media isn't a new thing to him. He's seen it ever since he was a child. He's lived with it ever since he was a child. He's seen his father’s frustration and anger boil up and disdain for the media build. He's worked with his father through trials and tribulations not just with the media but with their own organization. One that's still embroiled in their own controversies today.

“[B]ut there's no more pressure, to me, on any position in sports than an NFL quarterback." Shanahan said today at the 49ers pre-draft press conference "So, whether you get it right away or you get it later, it doesn't matter. It's coming. I would love to make everyone happy. Everyone wants to do that. I've been in this league long enough though, that you do have to block that stuff out. You can't make decisions based off of that. I think it used to be a lot easier, because you didn't have to carry phones with you or anything. So, you've got to get very good at not checking that stuff, but I do go to restaurants. I do go to my kid's soccer games. Every single person, whether it's a ref, an umpire, another parent, everyone has a strong opinion and most people let me know. Every one of my friends, trust me, most of them are just texting my wife now because they know they don't get a response back.

"But, that's a part of life. What I'm proud of what we've done is we could have sat there at 12 and waited to see which one came to us and I think whichever one did, if one did, like I said, when we started, we think there's five guys. If one came to us at 12, I think that could have looked really good and you don't have to worry about that stuff. Everyone thinks you did it right, but we made a decision in this process that we felt we needed to get a starting quarterback this year and add that to our team. When we sit there at 12 way back in the day and we wanted to dictate it. And, we also were worried, maybe the one we ended up wanting doesn't fall to 12. Why don't we move up there to a spot where we can take the best look at everyone?"

It's easy to read that as defensive and hurt. Again though, think about his history.

We can't fathom what it feels like to be a 21-point lead away from winning a Super Bowl win, nor can we imagine what it's like to be seven minutes away from another.

And that's OK, because those are burdens that are reserved for an offensive genius.

I could spend hours dissecting every little minutiae of what has gotten the 49ers and fans to this point. I could wax poetic and create diagrams about how the promotion of Adam Peters is correlated to the trade or how QB Collective's Twitter has me riled up like the first season of Lost and chart out betting odds like a bar worker searching for Pepe Silvia.

But I won't.

I want to be surprised. I want to see what happens.

That's why it's OK to let the Niners draft who they want, and it's OKto not know. It's OKto let the process play out, and if it's someone you don't like, oh well! It wasn't your choice. You won't have to live with the consequences. You won't have to worry about that.

Because those are burdens that are reserved for an offensive genius.

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