The San Francisco 49ers did not formally hire Kyle Shanahan until this past Monday, but Shanahan has been working on assembling a coaching staff since well before he even interviewed with the team.
Aspiring coaches are usually asked during interviews about the kind of staff they would assemble. Although they won’t formally hire assistants until after getting a head coach position, the best potential head coaches would have long ago established a network of potential assistants. That was one of the many major problems with promoting Jim Tomsula back in 2015.
Although Shanahan was not formally hired until the day after the Super Bowl, the coaching staff he is assembling likely reflects years of preparation. We already know he brought running backs coach Bobby Turner over because they had planned on this scenario over the years. He coached with Mike Shanahan in Denver for 14 years, and then another four in Washington alongside Kyle Shanahan. Add in two more years in Atlanta, and they go way back.
MMQB columnist Albert Breer had a note on more of the connections in his latest notebook. The team won’t announce hirings until they get the entire staff signed, but among the reported names, there are a ton of connections (not mentioned is new 49ers strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright, who worked with Shanahan in Washington and Houston).
Robert Saleh worked with Shanahan in Houston. Mike McDaniel was with him in Houston, Washington, Cleveland and Atlanta; Richard Hightower worked with him in Houston and Washington; Jon Embree worked with him in Washington; Mike LaFleur was with him in Cleveland and Washington; and Rich Scangarello was on his staff in Cleveland.
Breer said the coaches are all “cerebral and driven,” but, “also a little edgy and opinionated.” Breer wrote that this suggests a culture that will provide “an open forum of ideas within the staff.” Breer sees trust within the group, which would allow for pushback on ideas. “Yes men” are not going to help anybody, and if this coaching staff has the kind of relationship Breer suggests, that bodes well for the coaching side of things. The talent needs to be improved, but thus far, it is easy to be optimistic about where things could be going.