The NFL world will be unpacking the ESPN report on the New England Patriots for a long time, and we’ve already discussed parts of it at length. One aspect we didn’t spend much time on is the fact that San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan sought out New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick at the NFL Combine.
The goal? Shanahan wanted to discuss the Patriots’ win over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, in an effort to improve himself as a coach. The Seth Wickersham report talks about this briefly, as a way to illustrate how quickly Belichick arrived at the decision to offer Jimmy Garoppolo to Shanahan and the 49ers for just a second-round pick, when the asking price had previously been something much more.
One morning in late October, Belichick texted San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and asked him to call. Belichick had long admired Kyle’s father, Mike, who not only had been one of the NFL’s smartest tacticians but had also personally defended Belichick to commissioner Roger Goodell during the Spygate scandal. At the combine this past February, Kyle, weeks into the 49ers job after being the offensive coordinator for the Falcons, met with Belichick for hours to learn from his team’s humiliating Super Bowl loss. Belichick believed that Garoppolo would excel under Shanahan, and when he and Shanahan connected on the phone, Belichick offered the quarterback for a second-rounder.
There’s a lot to consider here. For one, it’s admirable that Shanahan is devoted enough to self-improvement that he spent time with Belichick, a certified mastermind when it comes to the sport of football. That alone should encourage 49ers fans about Shanahan’s mindset and where he’s at.
On Friday, Wickersham went on KNBR to talk about various aspects of his report on the Patriots, and he talked about Belichick’s decision to offer Garoppolo up for a second-round pick, and also the relationship between Shanahan and Belichick.
“First, I think he wanted Jimmy to do well,” Wickersham said. “He invested a lot in him, and he wanted him to go to a place where he would do well.
“Second, he had a ton of respect for Mike Shanahan. Mike Shanahan was always a difficult matchup for Belichick, and he respected him as a football mind. He personally defended him to Roger Goodell during Spygate. And, finally, I think that he respected Kyle. Kyle Shanahan got the Niners gig, and at the Combine, they met — they didn’t know each other, and I think they met to talk about the Super Bowl. And, I think that’s a really difficult for someone — to lose a Super Bowl like that, and then to go visit the person who helped engineer that, and spend hours dissecting why you messed up. I think that it showed him a lot.”
That’s pretty important, right there. Say what you want about the people involved in the Patriots organization and how many of them might not be great people overall, they are incredibly football minds and the respect from Belichick means a lot. Mike Shanahan has been a running joke for the last few years due to his inability to change, but he has a powerful legacy and that reflects on Kyle.
This story gets more and more interesting by the hour, I feel. It’s looking a lot like the 49ers got a steal in Garoppolo.