A couple weeks ago, we talked about the Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan rivalry and how it’s going to be something to watch in the NFC. Well, thanks to a nice article from Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit, we have some depth and history on how all this get started. Not only started, but the contrast between the two.
It all started with Shanahan and McVay being in the right place at the right time. As you may already know, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator at Washington while McVay was brought in as an offensive quality control coach, something McVay refers to as being Shanahan’s “assistant.” Both are linked to the Jon Gruden coaching tree, as both began as quality control coaches for the now-head coach of the Oakland Raiders. This, of course links everything all the way back to former San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh’s coaching tree (Gruden got his start as a quality control coach for George Seifert in 1990, Seifert was a coordinator under Walsh).
Of course there’s a huge difference which Benoit outlined thanks to a conversation with Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins:
“Sean is going to be more rah-rah, positive, high-energy, warm,” says Kirk Cousins, who had Shanahan as a coordinator in 2012-13 and McVay as a coordinator under Jay Gruden in 2014-16. “Kyle’s going to be more direct, tell it like it is. I think that’s the biggest difference.”
49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon has played for both coaches. Shanahan was his offensive coordinator in Washington from 2012 to 2013, and then again last season with the 49ers. McVay was his OC in Washington from 2014 to 2016.
He describes McVay as “more playful,” but touts Shanahan’s dry humor, which even after six years, can be hard for the veteran to detect. “He’ll crack a joke when you’re not expecting,” he says. “And now he’s the head coach, so it’s even harder to know if he’s serious or not. When young guys come in, they’re not sure if he’s messing with them or if he’s being serious, because he keeps such a straight face.”
This is quite the contrast between coaching styles. While both are disciples of the west coast offense, one takes a bit more towards Bill Walsh’s dry sense of humor (Shanahan) and the other towards a modern Pete Carroll (McVay).
But that’s just the beginning, as things go on, Benoit outlines a lot of the differences between McVay and Shanahan from their coaching, usage of quarterbacks and usage of tailbacks. Differences I can’t just plug paragraphs to do justice.
It’s definitely a good read and something worth going through before we come back here and discuss. The Shanahan/McVay rivalry is going to be one of the hottest things in the NFL for the coming years, given the talents on both teams. It might be friendly, it might not, but it at least merits us possible prime time games.