Buying or selling Super Bowl LVI contenders

Are the LA Rams really Super Bowl contenders?

By: Chris Thomas

From the minute the Super Bowl ends speculation begins about who could make the Super Bowl the following year. The odds change throughout the offseason as hirings, signings, and the draft happens. At this point of the offseason, the Super Bowl odds seem pretty firm, barring anything crazy. 

Recently Sportsline came up with their Super Bowl odds for the 2022 NFL Season. According to CBS Sports, they simulate every NFL game 10,000 times to figure out their odds for who will win the Super Bowl. CBS Sports also reported that those who have bet $100 on their model since its inception six years ago are now up almost $7,900.

Even though there are so many talented teams around the league only two teams can make the Super Bowl and only one team can win it. There are a lot of loaded rosters across the league, but only a hand few could be considered Super Bowl contenders. Sportsline has set the odds for every team’s chance of winning the Super Bowl next season. Here is whether to buy or sell Sportsline top-10 Super Bowl contenders as teams who could win the Super Bowl. 

1. Kansas City Chiefs (+525)

Despite losing the Super Bowl last year, many believe the Kansas City Chiefs do have the best odds of winning the Super Bowl next year. It’s pretty hard to argue against it. Kansas City did not have many major losses across their roster this offseason. The Chiefs invested a lot of capital into their biggest weakness displayed during the Super Bowl which was their offensive line. They added veterans like Orlando Brown Jr. (via trade), Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, and Austin Blythe. Then drafted high upside interior offensive linemen Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith. Also, veteran guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff and 2020 third-round pick tackle Lucas Niang are returning to the team after opting out last season due to Covid-19. That unit is deep enough to ensure that former MVP Patrick Mahomes plays behind a top-10 offensive line all year. 

Kansas City does not have any major holes across its roster. They have done a great job retaining veterans and filling voids on their roster with high draft picks over the last couple of seasons. The combination of having an MVP caliber quarterback, consistency in the roster, and fantastic coaching is what makes the Chiefs a potential Super Bowl contender this season.

Verdict: Buying

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+650)

It would be shocking to not have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers high on this list. The reigning Super Bowl champs did the impossible this past offseason and managed to retain every single player that started during the Super Bowl for them. Tampa Bay somehow managed to retain Shaquil Barrett, Chris Godwin, Ndamukong Suh, Leonard Fournette, and Rob Gronkowski in free agency. They also retained veterans Steve McLendon, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Succop, and signed veteran running back Giovanni Bernard to join their running back committee. During the draft, Tampa Bay took the best player available and Jason Pierre-Pauls potential replacement next offseason Joe Tryon. Adding a prospect like Tryon to a defense that was capable of holding Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs to nine points during the Super Bowl was a great move. 

After last season it seems that anytime Tom Brady is a team’s starting quarterback they have a chance of winning the Super Bowl. Another season of Brady in that system with the outstanding weapons he has including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, (A healthy) O.J. Howard, a plethora of great running backs, and outstanding defensive play could result in the Buccaneers winning back-to-back Super Bowls. 

Verdict: Buying

3. Buffalo Bills (+1300)

After the two teams who played in the Super Bowl last year, there is a cluster of teams that could prevent one of them from getting to the big game. Sportsline has the Buffalo Bills as the team most likely to take down the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC and win the Super Bowl. At times last season the Bills looked like the best team in football. Quarterback Josh Allen took a massive leap and asserted himself as a top-10 quarterback and finished the season as the runner-up to the MVP. Last year they also added Stefon Diggs who was arguably the best receiver in all of football. Diggs led the league in receptions and receiving yards last year. On top of that, the Bills have an extremely solid roster with a couple of former Pro Bowl defensive players including Tre’Davious White and Tremaine Edmonds. They let go of John Brown who missed most of last season and replaced him with Emmanuel Sanders. 

The Bills are a really good team, but it is important to ask, how much better did the Bills get this offseason. Buffalo retained a lot of their starters from the year prior and brought in Sanders, but they did not bring any fresh blood who can make a major impact on this roster. During the draft, the Bills spent their first two selections on defensive linemen Gregory Rousseau and Carlos “Boogie” Basham. Both help fill the need Buffalo has for a premier pass rusher. But with all the veteran depth on this roster both in the interior and on the edge, how often are they going to be seeing the field next season? The answer is not extremely likely unless they show immediately that they are better than veterans Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison, Efe Obada, and 2020 second-round pick A.J. Epenesa. The sad truth is that Buffalo didn’t add enough to their roster to potentially become the sole favorite in the AFC and defeated the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Verdict: Selling

T4. Baltimore Ravens (+1400)

Since Lamar Jackson became the starting quarterback of the Ravens during the 2018-19 NFL season the Ravens have been one of the most dominant teams in the league. The Ravens are expected to continue that this season and may go farther this year than they have in Jackson’s previous three seasons. A couple of veteran players left Baltimore in free agency this offseason including Mark Ingram, Willie Snead IV, Matt Skura, D.J. Fluker, Matthew Judon, and Yannick Ngakoue. But the Ravens did a great job reloading their roster with more veteran and young talent this offseason to replace those players. In free agency, Baltimore added Kevin Zeitler, Alejandro Villanueva, Sammy Watkins, Ja’Wuan James (expected to miss the entire 2021-22 season), and Justin Houston. In the draft, Baltimore added both wide receiver Rashod Bateman and Odafe “Jayson” Oweh in the first round after they acquired a second first-round pick in the Orlando Brown Jr. trade.

It is hard to argue against Baltimore having one of the deepest rosters in the league, even after the roster turnover. The biggest factors for how Baltimore will perform this year will be the Ravens passing game and pass rush. The Ravens have gotten below-average play from their wide receivers in recent years, Baltimore hopes the additions of Rashod Bateman and Sammy Watkins could boost the team’s production from that position. The pass rush may have been a concern, but after adding Odafe Owey and Justin Houston to this loaded defense the Ravens should be able to generate enough pressure from the outside to play at a high level. Since Lamar Jackson’s contract is looming over the Ravens’ future this may be Baltimore’s best opportunity to win a Super Bowl with Jackson under center on a rookie contract. 

Verdict: Buying

T4. Los Angeles Rams (+1400)

The Los Angeles Rams started the offseason making a huge trade to upgrade their quarterback position. Before the Super Bowl, the Rams agreed to trade Jared Goff, their 2022 first-round pick, and 2023 first-round pick to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. This trade signals that the Rams believe they are a quarterback upgrade away from being a Super Bowl contender. A lot of notable players left the team in free agency including Josh Reynolds, Samson Ebukam, Gerald Everett, Malcolm Brown, Austin Blythe, John Johnson III, and Troy Hill. Not to mention they traded away Michael Brockers to free up salary space. The biggest addition the Rams made to this roster is DeSean Jackson who joins a deep receiving core including Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Van Jefferson. The Rams didn’t have a first-round pick due to the Jalen Ramsey trade. They did not add any players who are expected to have an immediate impact, instead, they could likely develop into contributors in year two or three with the team. 

The Rams have a few players on the roster that are considered elite at their position including Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. Then they have a couple of players who are great including Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Leonard Floyd, Matthew Stafford, and Andrew Whitworth. But after those guys, the Rams are relying on a bunch of unproven players who at best couple be solid. This roster is extremely delicate. One injury to a Rams star and they could miss the playoffs. Already the Rams have lost 2020 second-round pick running back Cam Akers to a torn Achilles before training camp. Everything for the Rams would have to go perfectly for them to have a shot at the Super Bowl with their current roster construction.

Verdict: Selling

T4. San Fransisco 49ers (+1400)

It is easily forgotten that the San Fransisco 49ers were in the Super Bowl two years ago. After a season derailed by multiple injuries, the 49ers made the most discussed transaction of the offseason. The 49ers traded two future first-round picks to acquire the third overall pick in this past draft. They used that selection of quarterback Trey Lance. The 49ers lost Richard Sherman and few depth pieces but overall had a positive offseason adding solid pieces in Alex Mack, Samson Ebukam, Maurice Hurst, Arden Key, and Wayne Gallman. Their best signing may be the extending left tackle Trent Williams to a six-year $138 million deal. 

Looking at their roster it is clear that the 49ers can be one of the league’s best if they stay healthy. On offense, they have an elite running game and three outstanding pass catchers in George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and second-year receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Behind their offensive line, it may not matter if Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance is under center. Then the 49ers’ defense still can be as elite as it was two years ago with all their premier talent. If the 49ers could stay healthy and make it out of the NFC West they are as dangerous as any team in the NFL. 

Verdict: Buying

7. Green Bay Packers(+1600)

Since the NFL Draft, the most talked about team in the league has been the Green Bay Packers. The reasoning is that it became public knowledge that league MVP Aaron Rodgers wants to be traded from the team. He felt he has been mistreated by management and would rather go to a situation where he feels he will be treated as he should. Besides that, the Packers have had an okay offseason. Green Bay lost All-Pro center Corey Linsley and running back Jamaal Williams in free agency. They brought in free agents De’Vondre Campbell and Dennis Kelly to fill voids on their roster. Green Bay also retained cornerback Kevin King on a one-year deal and Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones to a four-year $48 million deal. During the first round of the draft, they added Eric Stokes to upgrade their CB2 spot that was exposed during the NFC Championship.

In all honesty, the Packers have an extremely loaded roster. But their biggest problem this season may be what happens in the locker room. After negotiating with Packers brass Aaron Rodgers agreed to come to training camp under the condition that the Packers trade him following this season. Since he has returned he has been extremely passive-aggressive about all that has happened and seems to have the Packers organization doing his bidding. That bidding included traded for veteran receiver and former Packer Randall Cobb who will now likely start over third-round pick rookie Amari Rodgers in the slot. On top of that All-Pro receiver Davante Adams has now expressed that he may leave the Packers this offseason, especially if Aaron Rodgers isn’t there. Both Rodgers and Adams are under the impression that this is the “last dance” and this is their last shot to win it all before they both split from Green Bay this offseason. It is hard to recall a time where a team with this much dysfunction in the locker room won a Super Bowl. 

Verdict: Selling

8. Cleveland Browns (+1800)

After their outstanding performance, last season the Cleveland Browns are being recognized as a potential Super Bowl contender last season. Cleveland had a fantastic offseason as well. The Browns signed John Johnson III, Troy Hill, Jadeveon Clowney, Takk McKinley, Malik Jackson, Anthony Walker Jr., and resigned Rashad Higgins. They also had a great draft taking two first-round talents in cornerback Greg Newsome II and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the first two rounds. 

It is hard to find a major hole across this roster. The biggest factor for the Browns this season is the play of Baker Mayfield. So far throughout his career, he has played well but is considered an average NFL quarterback. In year two playing for Kevin Stefanski, Mayfield hopes to make that leap. A healthy Odell Beckham Jr. should help Mayfield realize his potential as long as he doesn’t feel pressure to force plays to Beckham as he has in the past. What may hold this team back at the end of the day is the team’s inexperience in huge games. Last year the Browns managed to pick up a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and came close to beating the Kansas City Chiefs. But it is hard to call the Browns a contender without evidence that they can defeat the teams at the top of the AFC let alone the entire league. 

Verdict: Selling

9. Denver Broncos (+2000)

The most shocking team to appear on this list is the Denver Broncos. According to Sportsline, the team that went 5-11 a season ago has the ninth-best odds of winning the Super Bowl. That sounds crazy but after acknowledging all of the Broncos offseason moves it doesn’t seem entirely impossible. They let go of a few veterans including Phillip Lindsay, Jurrell Casey, A.J. Bouye, and Ja’Wuan James. But Denver added to Pro Bowl-caliber cornerbacks in Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby to go with their star-studded secondary that features Bryce Callahan, Justin Simmons, and Kareem Jackson. Simmons and Jackson received extensions from the Broncos this offseason as well as Garrett Bolles and Shelby Harris. During the draft, Denver elected not to draft a quarterback and took cornerback Patrick Surtain II in the first round. 

The most impactful move the Broncos made this offseason can be the acquisition of former Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He is engaged in a quarterback competition with Drew Lock. That uncertainty at quarterback is what holds Denver out of conversations as legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Denver has a very exciting young offense and premier defensive talent. But their below-average quarterback play likely caps their ceiling at around .500. If Drew Lock wins the quarterback job and breaks out then the Broncos may have a chance of making the playoffs. The only way Denver becomes Super Bowl contenders is if Lock plays at least at a Pro Bowl level or possibly an MVP level.

Verdict: Selling

T10. Indianapolis Colts (+3000)

So far the Indianapolis Colts have not had an outstanding training camp. Freak foot injuries to their new franchise quarterback Carson Wentz and All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson have tempered the expectations for the team. However, both may be able to return from their injuries around Week 1. Earlier the Colts made the trade to acquire Wentz from the Eagles to replace the recently retired Philip Rivers. They gave up a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick for Wentz. That conditional second-round pick would become a first-round pick if Wentz plays 75% of the snaps or if he plays 70% of the snaps and the Colts made the playoffs. This offseason Colts lost both of their starting edge rushers Denico Autry and Justin Houston, veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett, linebacker Anthony Walker Jr., and former first-round pick Malik Hooker. But they managed to retain Xavier Rhodes, T.Y. Hilton, and Marlon Mack. The Colts also signed former Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher. During the draft, the Colts took pass rusher Kwity Paye towards the end of the first round. 

The Indianapolis Colts have a nice blend of younger players and veterans throughout their roster. But they feel like they’re missing another x-factor player to make them legitimate contenders. That player could be Carson Wentz if he returns to his form during the 2017-18 season. Besides Jonathan Taylor behind the Colts’ elite offensive line, there are a lot of questions about their offense. What Carson Wentz will the Colts get, Is T.Y. Hilton still a threat on offense, and can Michael Pittman Jr. emerge as the Colts’ number one receiver. Defensively the Colts have enough to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders. It all comes down to the offense that would need to take a big leap forward for this team to become a Super Bowl contender. 

Verdict: Selling

T10. New Orleans Saints (+3000)

As it stands right now it appears the New Orleans Saints missed their Super Bowl window over the last four seasons. But they still have an extremely talented roster. The Saints lost some of their major contributors from a season ago including Emmanuel Sanders, Trey Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins, Janoris Jenkins, and Jared Cook. They also brought in a couple of solid veterans in Nick Vannett, Tanoh Kpassagnon, J.R. Sweezy, Jeff Heath, and Brian Poole. Their first-round pick this past year was a puzzling one. They reached on edge rusher Payton Turner who many had a Day 2 grade on. 

The biggest storyline in New Orleans has been what the Saints do at quarterback in the post-Drew Brees era. New Orleans retained both Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill who are both expected to compete for the starting quarterback job. It doesn’t help that their number one receiver Michael Thomas is expected to miss a huge amount of time due to a lingering ankle injury. The Saints are not very deep at receiver after Thomas. New Orleans still has a lot of talent across this roster but will need trustworthy play at quarterback to make the playoffs next season let alone win the Super Bowl. 

Verdict: Selling

Sean McVay vs Kyle Shanahan: Which coach is better?

Is Rams Sean McVay or 49ers Kyle Shanahan better?

By: Chris Thomas

When NFL teams are going through the process of hiring a new head coach, they look to hire a head coach that could become what Sean McVay has been for the Los Angeles Rams and Kyle Shanahan for the San Fransisco 49ers. Both McVay and Shanahan have a lot in common. Not only do they coach teams in the NFC West, but they are also young offensive gurus that are both from the Jon Gruden coaching tree and already considered two of the league’s best head coaches. Since the two of them have so much in common and play with each other twice a year they are constantly compared. Both have been head coaches of their respective teams since 2017 so the leagues have been exposed to both coaches in action for a couple of seasons.

If the two were compared who is considered who would be considered the better coach. There are multiple categories that could be compared between both coaches that will dictate who is the better coach. Here is the comparison of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan.

Success before landing a head coaching job

Even before McVay and Shanahan were head coaches they were both considered two great young offensive minds. Here is a recap of what they did before they landed their current positions.

McVay started with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an offensive assistant for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. After four seasons as an assistant coach in Washington, he became the team’s offensive coordinator in 2014 replacing Kyle Shanahan.

During McVay’s first year as the team’s offensive coordinator Washington was around the middle of the league in every offensive category but was below average in every category except total yards, passing yards, and rushing touchdowns. That is solid considering the inconsistency they had at quarterback with Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy starting games throughout the season.

In year two as Washington’s offensive coordinator, the team’s offense took a leap forward. Washington was able to win the NFC East with a 9-7 record and improve to become a top-15 offense in almost all offensive categories. Their offense was led by the combination of quarterback Kirk Cousins (who was the team’s full-time starting quarterback) and tight end Jordan Reed.

During the 2016 season, McVay appeared to have a great grip on his offense. They finished the year 8-7-1 but had Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson finish the year with over 1,000+ receiving yards and three touchdowns each. Also, Jamison Crowder had 847 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Kirk Cousins had a career-high 4,917 yards and made the Pro Bowl. This offensive performance helped McVay get hired as the youngest head coach in NFL history.

Similar to McVay, Shannon started his NFL coaching career as an Offensive quality control coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004. He had a lot more years of experience in the NFL and as an offensive coordinator before landing his opportunity with the 49ers.

After two seasons as the Houston Texan’s wide receiver and quarterback coach Shanahan was promoted to Texan’s offensive coordinator in 2008. They finished with a top-10 passing offense and top-15 rushing attack. The following season they finished in the top-10 in the league in points scored, total yards, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. Matt Schaub made the Pro Bowl that season after throwing 4,770 yards and 29 touchdowns.

Shanahan then spent the next four seasons in Washington as their offensive coordinator. He coached Washington to be a top-10 passing offense with an aging Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman under center. The next season was not so fruitful as the team had a 5-11 record with Grossman as the full time starter. Washington’s offense in 2011 was near the bottom of the league in almost every category. But the following season in 2012 was one of the most dynamic that Shanahan has ever coached. Shanahan’s offense, that featured second overall pick Robert Griffin III under center and sixth round pick rookie Alfred Morris leading the team in carries, got Washington to 10-6 and into the playoffs. Their rushing attack in 2012 was first in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns, and third in rushing attempts in the league. Alfred Morris had a break out year with 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns. Also Griffin III rushed for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2013 Washington did not perform as well as they did the year before, but managed to maintain a near elite rushing attack. Morris followed up his outstanding rookie season with 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns.

During the 2014 season Shanahan spent the year with the Cleveland Browns. Shanahan was dealing with a team with bellow average talent with a few young pieces that needed some development as well. So his team did not produce at the level that he would have liked. In specific offensive stats Cleveland was all over the spectrum as far as production compared to the rest of the league. But overall Cleveland finished near the bottom of the league.

After resigning in Cleveland, Shanahan spent the next two seasons in Atlanta. The Falcons finished with a top-10 passing offense in 2015 in Shanahan’s offense. Atlanta had three Pro Bowlers on the offensive side of the ball that season including Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman. The next season the Atlanta Falcons had one of (if not) the best offenses in the entire league. They finished first in the league in points. Atlanta also was second in the league in total yards and passing touchdowns. They were also third in the league in passing yards and rushing touchdowns. The Falcons rushing attack finished as the fifth-ranked in the league in rushing yards. Matt Ryan had the best season of his career being named First Team All-Pro and league MVP after throwing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns. Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones were once again named Pro Bowlers after finishing the year with over 1,400+ scrimmage yards each.

Winner: Kyle Shanahan

Coaching Tree

Since both McVay and Shanahan have been highly regarded head coaches since 2017 organizations have poached assistants from their staff to bring a similar playing style and impact to their teams. If a coaching staff keeps losing assistant coaches every year that means that staff is able to produce consistent success and that the head coach is considered a good teacher to his assistants. Here are their former assistants who have gotten promotions on other rosters.

During McVay’s first season as the Rams head coach his offensive coordinator was Matt LaFleur. Shortly later LaFleur became the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. LaFleur has had one the best starts to a coaching career in NFL history posting a 26-6 record with two NFC Championship appearances.

Zac Taylor, who formerly the Rams quarterback coach in 2018, was hired as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2019. Even though Taylor has not had great success in his first two seasons as a head coach, it is meaningful that he went straight from quarterback coach to head coach after coaching under McVay.

Even though he is technically a part of Vic Fangio’s coaching tree, Brandon Staley’s hiring as the Los Angeles Charger’s head coach should be considered another plus or Sean McVay. After letting go of Wade Phillips in 2020, the Rams hired Denver Bronco’s outside linebacker coach Brandon Staley to fill their void at defensive coordinator. In his first season in the role, Staley’s defense was the best in the league and earned him an NFL head coaching job despite a lack of overall coaching experience.

Shane Waldron has never been a NFL head coach, but was an assistant coach on McVay’s staff for four years who has earned a promotion this past offseason. After being the teams passing game coordinator for three seasons Waldron was just hired as the Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator this offseason.

The only members of Kyle Shanahan’s coaching tree who were promoted to a higher role on a different team are Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur. This offseason the New York Jets hired Robert Saleh to be the team’s head coach after being the 49ers defensive coordinator for the past four seasons. Saleh is considered one of the best defensive coaches in the league and a great culture guy to have in the locker room. Saleh brought over 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur to be the team’s offensive coordinator.

Winner: Sean McVay

Offensive Production throughout the years

Both coaches’ careers have been defined by their offensive success. So when comparing both coaches it is extremely important to consider the exact production of their offenses since they became head coaches.

During Sean McVay’s first season with the Rams, they had a top-10 offense. They were tenth in the league in total yards (5,784 yards) and led the league in points scored (averaged 29.9 per game). That season the Rams were tenth in passing yards (3,831 yards) and sixth in passing touchdowns (28). They also finished the year eighth in rushing yards (1,953) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (17). Second-year quarterback Jared Goff was named a Pro Bowler that season. Running back Todd Gurley was named a First-Team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.

In 2018 the Rams offense was in the conversation for best in the league. They finished second in both total yards (6,738) and points scored (32.9 per game). Los Angeles was fifth in the league in passing yards (4,507) and eighth in the league in passing touchdowns (32). They also finished the year with the third-most rushing yards (2,231) and second in the league in rushing touchdowns (23). Jared Goff was named to the Pro Bowl for the second year in a row. Also, Todd Gurley was named First Team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler for the second straight year.

The next year the Rams offense was not as dominant as they were in the prior two seasons. Los Angeles did have the seventh most total yards in the league (5,998) and eleventh in points scored (24.6 per game). They finished in the top-5 once again in passing yards with the fourth-most in the league (4,499) but finished 19th in passing touchdowns (22) that season. They also finished near the bottom of the league in rushing yards ranking 26th in the league (1,499). But the Rams did finish fourth in the league in rushing touchdowns (20). They did not have a single offensive Pro Bowler that season.

This year the Rams offense was solid but not as flashy as it had been in previous years. They finished just outside the top-ten in total yards (6,032) and 22nd in points (18.5 per game). The Rams were 13th in the league in passing yards (4,014) and 26th in passing touchdowns (20). Their running game did improve as they finished tenth in the league in both rushing yards (1,460) and touchdowns (19). For the second straight year the Rams did not have an offensive Pro Bowler.

Kyle Shanahan did not have outstanding offensive numbers during his first season with the 49ers. They finished 12th in the league in total yards (5,587) and 20th in the league in points (20.7 per game). San Fransisco had the ninth-most passing yards (3,925) in the league despite having three different starting quarterbacks throughout the season in C.J. Beathard, Brian Hoyer, and Jimmy Garoppolo. But they also finished 28th in the league in passing touchdowns (15). The 49ers finished 21st in the league in rushing yards (1,662) and seventh in the league in rushing touchdowns (15). The only Pro Bowler out of the 49ers skill players that season was fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

His year did not go very well either offensively since starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was limited to three games due to injury. They finished 16th in the league in total yards (5,769) and 21st i the league in total points (21.3). Despite having backup quarterback play throughout the season they finished 15th in the league in passing yards (3,867) and 17th in passing touchdowns (26). The 49ers rushing attack was okay that season as well after finishing the year 13th in rushing yards (1,902) and 30th in rushing touchdowns (7). Second-year tight end George Kittle and fullback Kyle Juszczyk were the only 49ers Pro Bowl position players.

In 2019 the 49ers offense was one of the most dangerous in the league. They finished the year fourth in total yards (6,097) and second in total points (29.9 per game). San Fransisco had a solid passing offense finishing 13th in passing yards (3,792) and tenth in passing touchdowns (28). Their running attack is what made them so dominant. The 49ers were second in the league in rushing yards (2,305) and led the league in rushing touchdowns (23). Despite how well the 49ers played they only had two Pro Bowlers in George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk. But Kittle was also named first-team All-Pro after breaking the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a single season (now currently held by Travis Kelce).

This past season the 49ers offense came back to earth and was okay. This was due to all the major injures the 49ers suffered across their roster. They finished 15th in the league in total yards (5,922) and 21st in the league in total points (23.5). The 49ers were 12th in the league in passing yards (4,033) and 19th in the league in passing touchdowns (25) even though they had three starting quarterbacks throughout the season in Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard, and Nick Mullens. Their running attack was dynamic for a backfield that suffered multiple injuries throughout the season. They finished 15th in the league in rushing yards (1,889) and tenth in rushing touchdowns (19). Fullback Kyle Juszczyk was the 49ers only Pro Bowler this past season.

Winner: Sean McVay

Elevating Player Production

An important part of evaluating coaching is paying attention to how the coach’s scheme or coaching has positively impacted the players. A great coach should be able to elevate the play of a disappointing player or a late round draft pick. Here are examples of offensive players who played better once they played for Sean McVay’s Rams or Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers.

The Los Angeles Rams front office has always surrounded Sean McVay with premier talent. So it is hard to pick out many players that were impacted by McVay’s coaching. However, two players who made huge jumps once they played for McVay in Los Angeles were wide receiver Robert Woods and quarterback Jared Goff. Before signing with the Rams in 2017, Woods had never broken 700 receiving yards or six touchdowns in Buffalo. He was widely regarded as a bust, considering he was a former second-round pick who was supposed to eventually become the Bills top receiver. But since joining Los Angeles, Woods has two seasons with over 1,100 receiving yards and three seasons with 5+ receiving touchdowns. McVay has turned Woods into a number one receiving option for the Rams. While during Jared Goff’s rookie season he lost all seven starts, averaged 155.6 passing yards per game, and threw five touchdowns to seven interceptions. He did not look great at all. McVay turned that quarterback into a two-time Pro Bowler during the next two seasons. Even though Goff was never dynamic, he was a fantastic distributor who knew how to use the weapons around him.

Kyle Shanahan on the other hand has multiple examples of players who have flourished and played at their highest level under him. He turned fifth-round pick tight end George Kittle into one of the best weapons in the NFL. Kittle is without a doubt the 49er’s number one receiving option and has had two 1,000+ yard receiving seasons in the past three years. Shanahan has also gotten great production out of undrafted free-agent running backs. He turned Raheem Mostert, who was cut by six different teams, into a borderline Pro Bowl-caliber running back. Shanahan has also gotten outstanding production out of former undrafted free agent Jeff Wilson Jr. who has eleven rushing touchdowns in the past two seasons. On the offensive line former first-round pick Laken Tomlinson struggled during his first few seasons in Detroit but has established himself as an important piece of the 49er’s offensive line the past couple of years. Shanahan has also gotten great production out of former Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens who has developed into a solid backup.

Winner: Kyle Shanahan

Head to Head Record versus opposing coach

Since Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are both head coaches in the NFC West it is important to note how they have performed against each other. They have played each other eight times over the last four seasons. In head-to-head action against each other Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers have beaten Sean McVay’s Rams five times out of the eight games they have played. San Fransisco has won the last four times they have played Los Angeles. The 49ers averaged 27 points a game when playing the Rams since 2017. While the Rams have averaged 28.8 points per game against the 49ers during that span.

Winner: Kyle Shanahan

Team Record since 2017

Not only the head to head record of both Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay be considered, but the overall record is very important when determining who has been the better head coach.

Since being named the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, Sean McVay has a 43-21 regular-season record. That is the fourth-best record in the NFL during that span. They also have two division titles in the last four seasons.

Kyle Shanahan has not had fantastic success overall during the regular season since entering the league. He is below .500 with a 29-35 record which is the 18th best during the league in that span. They have finished with the second worst record in the league twice under Shanahan. But San Fransisco did win the division in 2019-20.

Winner: Sean McVay

Playoff Success

A huge factor in this decision is how both teams have performed in the playoffs also will determine whether Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay has the upper hand. Since Sean McVay has become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams they have been to the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. While Kyle Shanahan has only brought the San 49ers to the playoffs once in his first four seasons in the league. Both have made it to the Super Bowl but both fell short.

In 2017 the Rams made the playoffs in McVay’s first season. But fell short losing in the Wild Card round the Atlanta Falcons 26-13. The following season the Rams had a bye in the wild card round and beat the Dallas Cowboys 30-22 in the Divisional round. The next week Los Angeles beat the New Orleans Saints in a controversial game in overtime 26-23. But their offense failed to show up during the Super Bowl when they lost 13-3 to the New England Patriots. After missing the playoffs in 2019, the Rams made the playoffs this year. In the Wild Card round the Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks at home 30-20. But they fell short of the NFC Championship game when they lost to the Green Bay Packers 32-17 in Green Bay.

The 49ers were the number one seed during the 2019-20 season. They had a bye in the first round and beat the red hot Minnesota Vikings 27-10 behind a dominant running game in the Divisional round. The next week San Fransisco demolished the Green Bay Packers defeating them in the NFC Championship 37-20. Running back Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns during that game. But the 49ers just fell short of a Super Bowl victory losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 31-20.

Winner: Kyle Shanahan

Overall Winner

When comparing important factors of both Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan’s coaching career the clear-cut winner is Kyle Shanahan. Despite not having the great overall team success, Shanahan is outstanding at elevating players and getting high levels of production out of players who may be backups for a different team. His multiple years as an offensive coordinator prepared him very well for his head coaching job and has him looking like a veteran coach despite only having the job for four seasons. That veteran experience has shown up in the film room because he has done well against division rivals like Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams since becoming the 49ers head coach. In 2019 Shanahan showed that when his team is healthy that his offense could be as dominant as any in the NFL despite not having premier talent at every position.

Potential Trade Destinations for Jimmy Garappolo

What is the best trade destination for Jimmy G?

By: Chris Thomas

The San Fransisco 49ers have made it clear that they do not view Jimmy Garappolo as the future of the franchise at quarterback after their blockbuster deal from last week. San Fransisco traded the 12th overall pick, their 2022 first-round pick, 2022 third-round pick, and 2023 first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for the third overall pick in this year’s draft. It has been all but confirmed that San Fransisco plans to take one of this year’s top quarterback prospects with the third pick.

This year’s quarterback class is as deep as they come. There are expected to be five quarterbacks taken in the first ten picks of this year’s draft. To put it into perspective, the elite quarterbacks class of 2018 had five quarterbacks go throughout the entire first round. Many expect Clemson’s Trevor Lawerence and BYU’s Zach Wilson to be gone already by the time the 49ers pick. San Fransisco will likely select one of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, or Alabama’s Mac Jones.

Now that the 49ers are expected to add a quarterback their incumbent starter Jimmy Garoppolo’s name a serviced as a potentially traded player. The rumors on Garoppolo’s availability have been conflicting. Shortly after the trade was announced 49ers head coach and general manager Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch told the media that they plan on keeping Garoppolo on the roster to begin next season. However now according to NFL Network’s Michael Giardi, it has come out that the 49ers asking price for Garoppolo is a first-round pick

A first-round pick seems like fair compensation for Garoppolo. This is considering that the Rams traded two first-round picks and a third-round pick (and Jared Goff) to the Lions for Matthew Stafford. The Colts also traded away a third-round pick and a conditional first-round pick to acquire Carson Wentz from the Eagles. Garoppolo’s value will likely be closer to Wentz than Stafford considering he is viewed in a similar light as Wentz. Both Garoppolo and Wentz have shown the ability to command an offense on a Super Bowl contending team. But both have dealt with their fair share of injuries and have been inconsistent with their production as of late.

It is difficult to pinpoint a perfect location for Garoppolo because every team who has a void at quarterback has filled it with an established veteran or will likely add one with their first-round pick on this year’s draft. But there are a few teams that could view Garoppolo as an upgrade over their current quarterback. A team may believe Garoppolo is the missing piece on their team that could get them in range to make the playoffs or possibly become a contender. Here are the teams that could trade for Jimmy Garoppolo before Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season.

Denver Broncos

Potential Trade: Denver trades a Conditional 2022 First Round Pick to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garoppolo

There has been some speculation about the Denver Broncos looking for an upgrade at quarterback over current starter Drew Lock. After going 4-1 as a starter at the end of his rookie season Lock regressed instead of growing into a legitimate franchise quarterback. Lock went 4-9 as a starter last season in his 13 starts. He also averaged 225.6 passing yards per game, threw only 16 touchdowns, and had 15 interceptions. This performance by Lock was unexpected after Denver added former Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon and multiple rookies on the offensive side of the ball. Denver drafted wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in the first two rounds then took center Lloyd Cushenberry in the third round.

At this point of the offseason, it appears that if Denver wanted to add a quarterback to push Drew Lock they could try to add someone like Jacksonville’s Gardner Minshew or Chicago’s Nick Foles. But if Denver wants to replace Lock then the only quarterback available that right now is a clearcut upgrade over Lock and could be the Broncos quarterback for the foreseeable future it is Jimmy Garoppolo.

From year one to year two Bronco’s head coach Vic Fangio’s team had regressed and lost two more games. Now with new general manager George Patton in house, there is urgency for Fangio to have success next season or Patton could move on from him and bring in his own head coach. This means Denver needs to have at least solid consistent production from the quarterback position next season. They cannot wait for Drew Lock to possibly show that he could be a starter.

Denver is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. They have a veteran defense that after adding Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby appear to be in a position to carry the team if necessary. While offensively Denver has enough young and veteran talent to keep them in games if they can get a quarterback under center that could take advantage of those weapons. There is a lot of uncertainty around whether Garoppolo is a star or not. But one thing is for certain when he has been under center or the 49ers he has consistently put them in positions to win. Denver needs a quarterback like that to put them over the edge and get them into potential playoff territory.

Denver should be willing to give a conditional first-round pick in 2022 to San Fransisco for compensation for Garoppolo. The conditions for the draft pick should mirror what the Colts and Eagles negotiated during their trade involving Carson Wentz. Garoppolo should have to play 75% of the Broncos offensive snaps or 70% and make the playoffs in order for San Fransisco to receive their first-round pick. But if Garoppolo fails to meet that criteria Denver should be able to give their third-round picks in both 2022 and 2023 to the 49ers for Garoppolo instead. Moving that high of a pick for Garoppolo is risky because he has shown that he is prone to get hurt and missing extended time. In the past three years, Garoppolo has missed 23 games which have hurt San Fransisco and is a large reason why they are moving on from him.

Carolina Panthers

Potential Trade: Carolina trades 2021 Second Round Pick (Pick 39), 2021 Third Round Pick (Pick 73), and Teddy Bridgewater to San Fransisco for 2021 Second Round Pick (Pick 43) and Jimmy Garoppolo

One of the biggest losers of San Fransisco trading up to third overall for a quarterback is the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have made it very clear that they are looking for a quarterback to be an upgrade over what Teddy Bridgewater was for them last season. They believe that with an increased level of production at quarterback the Panthers could make the playoffs if the rest of the team plays the same or better than they did this past season.

Eight of the eleven losses that Carolina suffered last season were by eight points or less. They point the finger at Teddy Bridgewater who looked like a bridge quarterback rather than a long-term starter. After signing a three-year $63 million contract last offseason Bridgewater averaged 248.9 passing yards per game and threw only 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Carolina and San Fransisco swapping quarterbacks in a trade makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons.

In early March it was reported by Joseph Person of The Athleticthatthe 49ers called Carolina about Teddy Bridgewater. Later reports said that San Fransisco was doing their due diligence by calling Carolina. But that means that the 49ers had somewhat of an interest level in Bridgewater to make the call. Bridgewater would be a perfect bridge quarterback for the 49ers because he would be able to run their offense well until the rookie is ready.

Also, another bonus for the 49ers would be that since Bridgewater was acquired via trade the 49ers would be able to move off of Bridgewater’s $21 million per year salary whenever they’re done with him without a dead cap hit.

For Carolina, Garoppolo would be what they’re looking for a quarterback who is an upgrade over Bridgewater. If he could stay healthy he is a major upgrade over Bridgewater that could be what Carolina needs to get over the hump. Trading for him also gives Carolina the option of taking the best player available at eight versus possibly taking the fourth or fifth quarterback available in the draft who may not be their guy. Garoppolo had a lot of success under offensive guru Kyle Shanahan, he could easily excel in Joe Brady’s system.

Since Carolina would be giving San Francisco another starting-caliber quarterback they likely would not have to give up a first-round pick in the deal. Along with Bridgewater, moving up four spots in the second round and adding a third-round pick is fair compensation for Garappolo.

New York Giants

Potential Trade: New York trades a 2022 conditional First Round Pick to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garappolo

After the moves, the Giants have made this offseason it seems the only thing that could hold the Giants back is the play at quarterbacks. In his second year, Daniel Jones still has not performed up to his draft status of the sixth overall pick. Jones did cut down on turnovers from his rookie year going from 30 to 21. But he only threw 11 touchdowns in 14 games. He also averaged only 210.2 passing yards per game.

It seems unlikely that New York would move on from Daniel Jones after only two seasons. Especially after investing the sixth overall pick in him. But it wouldn’t be crazy for Giants general manager David Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge to start evaluating their options at the position. The NFC East is extremely weak right now and with above-average talent at quarterback, the Giants could have the roster to win the division.

Being a former New England Patriot, Jimmy Garoppolo could have some type of relationship with Giants head coach Joe Judge who had coached in New England for eight seasons before getting the Giants job. Garoppolo would be able to handle the pressure that the media puts on New York quarterbacks. He was drafted to be Tom Brady’s replacement in New England and was the starting quarterback of an NFC Champion San Fransisco 49ers team. Garoppolo knows how to handle the media since he has been a part of winning teams in large markets. He could be the franchise quarterback that New York hopes Daniel Jones will eventually become.

Since there is risk involved when trading for a player like Garoppolo due to his injury history, it would only be fair for the Giants to have conditions that he would have to meet in order for the Giants to trade a first-round pick for him. The Giants would likely be comfortable moving a conditional first-round pick if Garoppolo played at least 75% of the snaps or 70% of the snaps and the team made the playoffs.

New England Patriots

Potential Trade: New England trades 2021 Third Round Pick (Pick 97), Sony Michel, and Stephon Gilmore to San Fransisco for Jimmy Garappolo

The most obvious fit for Jimmy Garappolo is to return to New England. It is no secret that Bill Belichick was extremely fond of Garappolo and viewed him as the eventual replacement for Tom Brady in New England. When both Garappolo and Brady were going hit free agency in 2017 Belichick and New England elected to extend Brady and traded Garappolo to San Fransisco for a second-round pick. The Patriots won another Super Bowl under Brady, but now that he is in Tampa Bay do not appear to have a long-term option at the position.

Last season New England took a chance on former MVP Cam Newton. He only averaged 177.1 passing yards per game and threw 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But when considering he also rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns he was a slightly below-average quarterback. New England gave Newton the benefit of the doubt since he lacked quality offense weapons this past year and gave Newton a one-year deal to prove he can do it with the new offensive weapons New England has brought in.

Even though Newton’s extension is worth up to $14 million he is only guaranteed to make $5.1 million. This means that from a financial standpoint New England could be comfortable bringing in another quarterback to compete or eventually replace Newton. The price tag of that quarterback shouldn’t matter since Newton’s guaranteed salary is similar to that of a veteran backup quarterback.

Trading for Garrapolo would give New England a proven veteran starting quarterback whose only flaw is health. He already knows the offensive system and has shown that he is capable of making a team with talented pieces a contender. Cam Newton would immediately become one of the league’s best backup quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could also use Cam Newton comparably to how New Orleans uses Taysom Hill. Along with using Newton on quarterback draws and in goal-line situations, McDaniels could create a couple of plays that allows both Garappolo and Newton to lineup on the field at the same time.

For the past few seasons, Newton has shown that he is fully capable of playing at a (moderately) high level, but after the first two to three weeks Newton’s production declines. If his role was condensed he would possibly be able to maintain the level of production he has early in a season throughout a year.

Both Stephon Gilmore and Sony Michel are veterans on the Patriots that could help the 49ers if they were moved there in a deal for Garappolo. Since veteran players could be involved in a deal for Garappolo the Patriots could get away with only giving up a third-round pick from this year’s draft in the deal.

Gilmore is viewed as one of the league’s premier talents at cornerback. However, right now Gilmore would hit free agency in 2022 and New England may not get an extension done with him. New England may be able to maximize his value by trading him before the season starts. The Patriots have always had great cornerback depth and with both J.C. Jackson and Jonathan Jones under contract Gilmore appears to be a luxury for the Patriots. New England may prefer to extend Jackson this offseason over Gilmore. San Fransisco could be interested in adding a cornerback the caliber of Gilmore because Richard Sherman is not expected to return. The largest void on the 49ers roster is cornerback because Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley are better suited to cover secondary receivers on opposing teams.

Sony Michel has been extremely inconsistent since joining New England. After rushing for one 900 yards and six touchdowns in his first two seasons, Michel only rushed for 449 rushing yards and a touchdown on 79 attempts in nine games. He seems to have regressed from the feature back in New England’s committee to a member of that committee. A change of scenery may be able to return a spark to Michel to replicate his production from his first few seasons or even live up to his first-round price tag. The best place for that to happen would be in Kyle Shanahan’s offense that is extremely running back-friendly. The 49ers could use another member of their committee after all the injuries that occurred at that position for them. On top of that veterans, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon are no longer on the team.

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