TINSMAN: Shanahans one win away from total vindication

Brian Tinsman
January 22, 2020 - 5:04 pm
Shanahans one win away from total Redskins vindication

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


Kyle Shanahan, and Mike by extension, is one win away from exoneration for the 2013 Washington Redskins debacle.

At the time, the pair was vilified in a war of words with Robert Griffin III, Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder, fought through proxies in the media. As the defending NFC East Champions sank to 3-13, the duo was written off as arrogant and petty, blamed for spoiling a generational talent at quarterback.

How bad was the fallout?

So bad that Mike never coached again. So bad that Kyle had to settle for an offensive coordinator stint in purgatory, otherwise known as Cleveland. The radioactive fallout made Mike untouchable and nearly short-circuited Kyle's bright future.

And for what? Because Mike and Kyle wanted to do it the Shanahan way.

After winning two Super Bowls, the elder Shanahan believed that the key to his success was the system. Sure, John Elway and Terrell Davis might win Super Bowls, but his system was good enough to win 10-plus games with Gus Frerotte and Mike Anderson.

What he asked for in Washington was to do things his way. He didn’t want to draft RG3, but Kyle schemed a way for him to be successful. When Griffin no longer wanted to play that scheme (but couldn’t win without it), Mike wanted a chance to win with Kirk Cousins.

He was right that you can't win with Griffin under center. The world will never know if he could have made Cousins a consistent winner.

Kyle isn't so different from his old man. He took the 49ers' head coaching job with an eye toward a roster overhaul, brought in by general manager John Lynch, an old Denver Bronco and family friend.

He brought in nobody running backs like Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert, who had already been cut by six other teams. He hired Bobby Turner, the wizard of zone blocking, and installed the full Shanahan way.

The coup de grâce was wrestling quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo away from New England, giving his offense the third dimension.

His players. His system. His way (with his father's approval).

Now, the Shanahans are one win away from proving they were right all along: that if left alone, they can go all the way. And they know it.

That's why Kyle made his regular-season rematch with the Redskins personal, saying that the best part of his time in D.C. was working with his dad (and the worst thing was "everything else"). That's why Mike has been a constant presence for his son in San Fran and was the person to present Kyle with the George Halas Trophy after winning the NFC title game.

Mike's window to win a third Super Bowl may be closed, but Kyle's first is well within reach. If they can close out the Chiefs on Super Bowl Sunday, history will absolve the Shanahans from any blame in Washington.

And rightly so.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.