NFL Hot Seat: With playoffs a pipe dream, Kyle Shanahan, 49ers should start Trey Lance

The San Francisco 49ers' Kyle Shanahan and the Minnesota Vikings' Mike Zimmer are firmly on the NFL hot seat after Week 9 losses.

The NFL season is half over, which means we’re midway between the season opener and Black Monday. With each week, the list of NFL coaches on the hot seat grows. Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers and Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings took on renewed scrutiny after a wholly disappointing Week 9.

NFL Hot Seat: Time for Kyle Shanahan to turn to Lance

Jimmy Garoppolo threw a terrible interception late in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ loss to the Cardinals Sunday. It should be the last meaningful pass he throws this season.

Time to turn to Trey Lance. We understand the rookie might not be ready. It doesn’t matter. Even if he loses every game the rest of the way, the experience he gets from practice and game reps will be invaluable. Lance hasn’t thrown a pass in a month, and he needs the work.

Garoppolo is San Francisco’s starter because Shanahan believes he gives the 49ers the best chance to make the playoffs. But those chances took a major hit Sunday when the Niners (3-5) lost to a Cardinals team without its starting quarterback (Kyler Murray), all-world receiver (DeAndre Hopkins), and best running back (Chase Edmonds).

The Niners are now five games back of Arizona in the NFC West.

Shanahan says Garoppolo played “all right”

After losses in five of his last six games, Shanahan is on track to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in his fifth year as San Francisco’s coach. Playing Lance, even if he struggles at first, will do more to save his job than any late-season surge to get the 49ers near .500.

Shanahan told reporters after the game that Garoppolo, who completed 28 of 40 passes for 326 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception, played “all right.” Shanahan insisted he wasn’t giving any thought to starting Lance against the Rams next week. He would do well to reconsider that stance in the days to come.

Mike Zimmer, Vikings drop fifth one-score game

Eight seasons into his time with the Vikings, Mike Zimmer is the NFL’s seventh-longest tenured head coach. But the odds of him reaching Year 9 took a major hit with Sunday’s choke job. The Vikings (3-5) blew a 14-point second-half lead over Baltimore, losing 34-31 in overtime and majorly imperiling their playoff hopes (which FiveThirtyEight says are basically 1 in 5).

That means Zimmer is likely to miss the postseason for the fifth time — which would probably end his time with the Vikings. Each of the six NFL coaches with more seniority has won a Super Bowl. Zimmer hasn’t even reached one.

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Each of Minnesota’s five losses have been by one score. And one of their three wins was gift-wrapped by the Lions. Put another way, the Vikings underachieve — which is a poor reflection of their coach. Zimmer deserves the opportunity to right the ship, but anything less than 7-2 the rest of the way probably won’t get it done.

“We didn’t do good,” Zimmer said Sunday. “We had a chance to put the game away after [Lamar Jackson threw an interception in overtime]. We didn’t do good there. We haven’t been good in two-minute drills on defense.”

Sweet relief for Meyer, Flores, Fangio, Judge

Four coaches on shaky ground did what they needed to Sunday. Denver’s Vic Fangio, Jacksonville’s Urban Meyer, New York’s Joe Judge, and Miami’s Brian Flores all got wins Sunday, with the Broncos and Jaguars both stunning Super Bowl contenders.

Meyer has had a lot of bad days since taking over the Jaguars in January. Sunday wasn’t one of them. In fact, it’s probably the best he’s felt since coming out of retirement. The Jaguars beat Josh Allen and the Bills 9-6 for Meyer’s second win of his tumultuous first NFL season.

Fangio’s Broncos, meanwhile, completely dominated Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, proving they still have life even after trading away Von Miller. The Broncos are now 5-4 and have a real chance of making the playoffs.

Judge has taken a lot of much-deserved grief. But after getting their doors blown off by the Rams in Week 6, the Giants have been much better. They beat the Raiders 23-16 Sunday for their second win in their last three games. New York’s only loss during that stretch was by 3 points in Kansas City.

Flores and the Dolphins know there are only eight games left in their season. But how Miami finishes will go a long way in determining whether Flores gets a fourth year. The Dolphins took care of business Sunday by beating the dreadful Texans. However, on Thursday night, the 6-2 Ravens come to town. The 5 turnovers they committed Sunday won’t cut it in Week 10.

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