s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 5 of 15 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read 10 of 15 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting at 99 cents per month.
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting 99 cents per month and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Get unlimited access to PressDemocrat.com, the eEdition and our mobile app starting 99 cents per month and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
Ooops! You're out of free articles. Starting at just 99 cents per month, you can keep reading all of our products and support local journalism.
Already a subscriber?

Today’s game is called, “Pretend you’re Jed York.”

Here’s how it works. You’re the worst owner in sports. Every idea or instinct you ever had about how to build a franchise was wrong and you deserve to be fired. But, you won’t be fired. Not in this game. Your parents own the team and they’re giving you another chance to fix things.

What are you going to do?

Your first instinct is to fire Trent Baalke and give Chip Kelly one more season to prove himself. That’s what most journalists tell you to do. Baalke is responsible for this terrible roster — not Kelly. Keeping him would create continuity at head coach, which is good in theory. And, you would look foolish firing three head coaches in three seasons. Like you don’t know what you’re doing.

But, you don’t know what you’re doing — you admit that. And remember, your instincts are always wrong. So, you reconsider. You ask yourself, “Is there any possible way that keeping Kelly for a second season might be worse than firing him after one?”

And you realize, yes, the only thing worse than firing Kelly after one season would be firing him after two. Because your franchise will invest a high draft pick in a quarterback just a few months from now, and firing Kelly after the quarterback’s rookie season would force that quarterback to learn two different offenses his first two years in the NFL. And that’s how you ruin your investment.

You must be prepared to fire Kelly now and hire someone better if you can find that person. You have to make a list.

At the top, write, “Coaches I would rather have than Chip Kelly.” And below that, write, “No. 1: Nick Saban.”

Saban is a no-brainer. He’s the best head coach in college football, maybe ever, and he used to serve under Bill Belichick, a roaring success in the NFL. Saban could turn around your franchise.

But in this game, you must be realistic. Saban could go to any team he chooses and name his price. Plus, he’s 65 years old, and may not want to coach a team like the 49ers and endure a season of losing. He may want to coach a team that’s ready to win right away, a team that has a talented roster and a veteran franchise quarterback. You have to be prepared for Saban to turn you down or to stay at Alabama.

So, beneath his name, write, “No. 2: David Shaw.”

Shaw is another no-brainer. He’s a great head coach in college and he used to serve under Jim Harbaugh, a roaring success in the NFL. Shaw could turn around your franchise.

But again, be realistic. Shaw and Harbaugh are close friends and Harbaugh is your sworn enemy. The guy you ran out of town. You must be prepared for Shaw to turn you down out of loyalty to his friend. And Shaw says he doesn’t want to leave Stanford.

And that means you need more names on your list. This is where the game gets tricky.

There are no more no-brainers to choose form. The rest of the good college coaches run gimmick-college schemes similar to Kelly’s and that’s not what you want.

You need to look at NFL coordinators now, preferably offensive ones who can develop a quarterback. Then, you need to project which coordinator would make the best head coach.

Easy, right?

Not for you. You’re Jed York. This is the kind of decision you typically screw up. You probably would pick someone based on his personality or his name or some accomplishment he made four or five years ago.

Do not listen to your gut on this one, whatever you do. Instead, develop a system based on science and numbers to help you figure this out.

Come up with a way to compare coordinators, which can be difficult because they face different teams. You’re not always comparing “apples to apples,” as they say.

Try comparing coordinators who have faced common opponents.

Take three of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL: Kyle Shanahan of the Atlanta Falcons, Josh McDaniels of the New England Patriots and Darrell Bevell of the Seattle Seahawks. Look at their schedules from 2016. Notice all three have faced the Arizona Cardinals, LA Rams and San Francisco 49ers.

Now, compile each coach’s stats versus those three opponents. Calculate points per game, yards per game, yards per play, first downs per game, third-down conversion percentage and red-zone touchdown percentage.

Here’s what you get: Against the Cardinals, Rams and 49ers in 2016, Bevell’s offense produced 17.5 points per game, 320 yards per game, 5.3 yards per play, 16.3 first downs per game, a 41.1 percent third-down conversion rate and a 41.7 percent red-zone touchdown rate.

McDaniels’ offense produced 26.3 points per game, 403 yards per game, 5.7 yards per play, 22.3 first downs per game, a 45.8 percent third-down conversion rate and a 55.6 percent red-zone touchdown rate.

And, Shanahan’s offense produced 40.3 points per game, 398.7 yards per game, 6.3 yards per play, 25 first downs per game, a 32.2 percent third-down conversion rate and a 90.9 percent red-zone touchdown rate.

According to your analysis, Shanahan is the best of the three coordinators. His numbers are off the charts, except for his third-down conversion rate, which is low.

Third downs seem to be Shanahan’s weakness. That’s because his offense is built around the run game and play-action pass, both of which he really can’t use on third downs. Those are a drop-back passing downs.

So, Shanahan tries to avoid third downs entirely. His offense has faced the fewest third downs in the league this season, which is one of the reasons his offense is so effective. Defenses have the advantage on third down — they know the offense probably will pass. Better for the offense to move the chains on first or second down, which Shanahan’s offense does consistently. His strategy is brilliant.

Kyle Shanahan is the best offensive coordinator in the NFL. Write his name on your list, get his number and call him.

Pick up the phone, Jed.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.