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What looked to be an interesting experiment in San Francisco turned into a nightmare. Following the departure of Jim Harbaugh to take over coaching at Michigan and the failed tenure of Jim Tomsula, the 49ers defensive line coach turned head coach, the management turned to Chip Kelly. Fresh off his unceremonious axing in Philadelphia, Kelly crossed the country for a chance at a new start in the league.
Kelly inherited a team that went 5-11 last season, spiraling out of control and falling far short of the accolades and achievements of just a few seasons ago. Adding further anxieties for 49ers fans was the team’s tumultuous relationship with Colin Kaepernick. The one-time star quarterback who brought them to the Super Bowl in 2012 was abruptly benched following a week 8 loss and amid criticism for his actions both on and off the field, had become a major distraction.
However, Chip Kelly was unable to right the ship. He lasted one season in San Francisco, though it felt much longer to fans. Going 2-14, the 49ers went through a major overhaul. Introducing former NFL player John Lynch as General Manager, the 49ers were able to snag Kyle Shanahan away from the Redskins to take over as head coach. Son of Super Bowl champions coach Mike Shanahan, Kyle has the pedigree and necessary experience to get the job done.
Early moves in the new Shanahan era are all about stopping the bleeding. Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract, allowing the team to move on. The 49ers signed Brian Hoyer to a two year contract worth $6 million, which gives them some flexibility if another opportunity presents itself. Additionally, the team has released wide receiver Torrey Smith and signed Pierre Garcon to take his spot. Locking up Jeremy Kerley to an extension, Hoyer will have some decent passing targets this year. Former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was added to the defense and accurate veteran kicker Robbie Gould signed on, showing the 49ers faithful that the management is serious about getting better in a hurry.
There is a history of success in the Bay Area from which to draw inspiration. San Francisco has won five Super Bowls in their history. Three were under the Hall of Fame Coach Bill Walsh, and two more under his successor, George Seifert.
Notable players to have laced up in the iconic red, white, and gold uniforms include some of the best the NFL has ever had to offer in Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, and Roger Craig. For more about the San Francisco 49ers and their history, click here.