With reports that the San Francisco 49ers are honing in on Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as their next coach, I wanted to take a look at what type of speaker he is with the press. How he articulates and explains things. Also, how do fans of his current team feel about his departure?
As we know, in the NFL, the top echelon of offensive teams love their OC. But even good teams with mediocre offenses typically have a rabid fan base wanting to toss their play caller overboard. You all may remember a certain Greg Roman, for example. In Seattle, Darrell Bevel is accosted weekly around water coolers and on blogs.
But let’s backtrack and look at the first thing I mentioned, seeing what type of speaker Shanahan is with the media. You can view his previous Falcons press conferences here.
He’s about as polar opposite as could be when compared to former 49ers head coaches Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly. Should Shanahan ultimately end up with this job, it appears that gone will be the days short, terse answers we saw from the former and the relatively quick, witty speech of the latter.
The first thing I noticed is that his answers tend to be long. Eyes shifting about while he speaks, seeming to really be considering his answers, he runs all the way through it. Water sips. Breath catching. There’s some cliche and canned coach answers mixed in as we see from most guys, but he also provides substance. He does a good job of interacting with the reporters, saying things like “as you know.”
He goes into detail about things related to players. Such as how hard he’s been on wide receiver Mohamed Sanu in the things they’ve asked him to do, the type of college career some of their players had leading to the NFL, or the hard work they had to put in to get quarterback Matt Ryan to where he now is. It definitely feels like he has a great sense of where his players have been, what they’re doing and where they’re wanting them to be.
It was interesting to watch one interview where a reporter asked about the media and fans being tough on him in the past versus appearing to be the “flavor of the month” this time around. After speaking to learning to handle those criticisms, the reporter followed up by asking when he turned that corner. Shanahan cited being in Washington, and how he lost his “innocence to the league a bit,” realizing that if he wanted to enjoy his life that he better learn how to deal with it.
All in all, it seems like Shanahan has a stronger handle on dealing with the media now. He can, from time to time, spurt off some of the smugness we remember from his old man. The media relationship doesn’t always seem smooth as silk. I bet he’ll evolve a bit more as he takes a foray into being the head man, but I definitely see a different personality than we’ve been used to for the last several years.
So, what of Falcons fans? Are they happy, sad or indifferent in seeing him go? That differs a bit after wading through a few articles and a couple of thousand comments on SBN’s The Falconholic.
Just 13 months ago, that blog penned a piece title “Is Kyle Shanahan a Quarterback Killer?” As you might imagine, a piece even asking that question isn’t likely to be filled with a ringing endorsement of the guy.
Shanahan doesn’t get all of the blame in the piece. The author fairly points out that Matt Ryan’s down season didn’t help. They cite poor decision making, turnovers and poor execution on the deep ball.
But I also feel like there was some reaching to attach blame to Shanahan. Such as pointing to Minnesota Vikings defender Captain Munnerlyn feeling the offense was predictable. A deeper look into Munnerlyn’s views indicate it had more to do with Ryan telegraphing decisions. Even then, athletes say all kinds of crazy things after being another team. They also pointed to Shanahan’s stops in Washington and Cleveland as being “toxic.”
Fast forward to this year, and things seem all rosy and well! As mentioned above in this piece, teams love to scapegoat their offensive coordinator when things aren’t going well. Now that Matt Ryan is an MVP candidate and the Atlanta offense is clicking with tremendous game planning, many of the comments are negative toward the 49ers and fans hope he’ll stick around.
While they have a negative view of the 49ers job, they seem to feel he should stick it out another year and wait for a job in Indianapolis, Cincinnati or even Carolina to open up if their woes continue. There’s also hope that Falcons owner Arthur Blank will get last look after Shanahan’s eventual offer, and may be able to provide the type of raise necessary to have him stick around.
Ultimately, I think we’re looking at a very smart offensive mind who can not only work with talented pieces, but can also squeeze more out of them the longer he’s with them. Continuity is huge, as we all know.
Many Niners fans will say the team needs to give him a fair shake to properly rebuild over a multi-year stretch. But knowing that fans are how they are, I wonder if we’ll afford him the same long leash we’re demanding from Jed York.