Cam Inman: 49ers' loyalty to Kyle Shanahan must pay off like Raiders' to John Madden

Cam Inman, The Mercury News on

Published in Football

As Al Davis sat down to reflect on John Madden’s coaching legacy, 30 years had passed since the Raiders’ first Super Bowl victory.

“For a while, there were words that we and he couldn’t win the big one, because we had lost so many championship games,” Davis told me in 2006 during an exclusive interview.

Fast forward to the modern-day 49ers. They’ve lost in the NFC Championship Game in consecutive years, and they’re three seasons removed from a Super Bowl collapse.

Can coach Kyle Shanahan win the big one?

Jed York, the 49ers’ CEO, still very much thinks so. He calls Shanahan “special,” and he’s banking on that justified loyalty to pay off for the 49ers just as it did Davis’ Raiders.

“We’ve been in three NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl in the last four years. That’s a pretty good run,” York told reporters Tuesday in Phoenix at the NFL’s annual meeting. “It’s not ultimately where we want to be but it’s a pretty good run.”


York is appreciative, not angry.

He is not issuing ultimatums, when it’s annually understood “the ultimate goal is to get that trophy.”

The 49ers are mired in a 28-season Super Bowl drought. And yet, their championship window remains open, as it has since 2019. There are no glaring signs of it closing in the next year or two, nor are there guarantees for more playoff berths.

But the York family is exercising more patience than in any other stretch since taking over as the 49ers’ majority owners in 2000. They know how rare it is to have a winning coach, not to mention one who grooms others and has produced a pipeline of minority hirings.


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