SANTA CLARA — 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan serves as his own offensive coordinator, and he will not hire someone to fill that coordinator position for next season.
“I can give anyone that title just so people don’t ask me that question,” Shanahan said at his Wednesday press conference. “I don’t plan on not calling the plays. So, I don’t see why that’s necessary.”
Plenty of head coaches call their own plays.
Bill Walsh did. Mike Shanahan did.
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians have for years.
But they also have offensive coordinators who handle the bulk of the game planning during the week. Walsh had Sam Wyche, Dennis Green and Mike Holmgren. Mike Shanahan had Gary Kubiak. Reid had Doug Pederson and now has Matt Nagy. Arians has Harold Goodwin.
The only head coaches in the NFL who currently double as offensive coordinators are Shanahan and Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns, and neither coach has won a game this season.
Does Shanahan think he has taken on too many responsibilities?
“No,” he said. “I’m 37 years old. I’m not ready to get my first head coaching job and just sit there and oversee everything. I think I got hired for what I’ve done on offense in my career. I think that’s what I can provide best to a team.”
Arians is 65 years old. Like Shanahan, Arians got hired for what he did on offense — he was an offensive coordinator for eight years. Since becoming a head coach, his winning percentage is .632, which ranks fourth highest among active coaches and 21st all time.
Delegating the offensive coordinator job has helped Arians be a successful head coach.
“There’s no doubt,” Arians said on a conference call. “It really helps free up your time. I would give up the play-calling duties if I could ever find someone I felt I wouldn’t look over their shoulder and second guess all the time. But, that’s still the most fun in the game for me, as I’m sure it is for Kyle.”
Ben McAdoo, head coach of the 49ers’ upcoming opponent — the New York Giants — is a former offensive coordinator who called his own plays until recently.
“I obviously love offensive football, and having my hand in it is something I enjoy,” McAdoo said on a Wednesday conference call. “I called the plays last year and for a period of time this year, and decided to delegate that.
“(Giants offensive coordinator) Mike Sullivan has always run the meetings, whether it’s upstairs or downstairs with the players. I’ve always been a part of things, and I continue to be a part of things, but I trust Mike. When you’re going through tough times, I think it’s important to be able to delegate and trust the men you’re delegating to.”
Former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick has at times used offensive coordinators to organize the game plan and sometimes even call the plays.
“Initially, I held onto the play-calling, then relinquished it, and took it back later on,” Billick said in a phone interview. “Most coaches eventually evolve to the point where even if they start (as the play caller), they relinquish it.