It's a constant debate in the NFL: which quarterback, which coach, which team is the best in the league?
Monday Night Football commentator Troy Aikman has a submission for one of those categories, best coach, that might surprise some people.
While Bill Belichick has won the most Super Bowls of any NFL coach and Andy Reid gets a lot of buzz for the offense he has assembled in Kansas City, Aikman said on SportsCenter following Monday's game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals that, if he could hire one person to lead an NFL team, it would be the 49ers' Kyle Shanahan.
"I’m a huge buyer of the 49ers, and I have been all season and I have been for the last several years, quite honestly, Scott, and a big reason for that is because of Kyle Shanahan," Aikman said. "If I was in a position to hire a head coach, and I could hire anybody I wanted, Kyle Shanahan would be that guy."
Shanahan, in his sixth season as the 49ers' head coach, has amassed a record of 35-24 during the past four years. He led the team to a 13-3 season and Super Bowl appearance in 2019.
And after a 38-10 beatdown of the Cardinals on Monday night, his team is positioned for another postseason run as the leader of the NFC West. The 49ers have now won three straight games and six of their last seven.
Aikman raved about Shanahan's offensive system. The 49ers rank eighth in the NFL in yards per game and 11th in scoring, despite losing starting quarterback Trey Lance for the season due to injury in Week Two.
Of course, it helps that Shanahan's offense is loaded with weapons, and Aikman made sure to credit general manager John Lynch for his work on the personnel front. Wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk and tight end George Kittle all scored touchdowns Monday night, while All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey had more than 100 scrimmage yards.
But Aikman said what really stands out about Shanahan's offense — which is heavily based on the zone running scheme that his father, Mike Shanahan, employed to win two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos — is its physicality.
"It’s an old-school style," Aikman said. "I’m not surprised by that, knowing Kyle’s background with his dad and running the football, but they’re physical, and in a league today where there’s so much emphasis on player safety and not much contact, not many padded practices during the week, they play like the game as I used to know it. So not many teams can match that if they’re not accustomed to seeing it."
It's no surprise that Aikman came away from Monday night's game impressed with the 49ers' offense. The unit looked as potent as ever, scoring 38 points in the game's first 50 minutes before the team removed its starters.
San Francisco will look to keep the momentum rolling when they host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.