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Saleh on Shanahan: Kyle is phenomenal at challenging his coaches to always achieve more.

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Saleh spoke very highly of Shanahan and Lynch’s relationship

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

About nine months ago, a writer from Bleacher Report that so happens to be a San Francisco 49ers fan reported that head coach Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch had friction when working together. To nobody’s surprise, that’s been debunked since then. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh met with the media on Thursday and was asked about Shanahan’s—who is admittedly tough on his coaches—coaching style. Saleh’s answer was perfect:

“Oh, yeah. He’s, there’s a difference between attacking and challenging, and Kyle is phenomenal at challenging his coaches to always achieve more. I’ve been around coaches who attack people and they get nothing. Kyle’s art and the way he coaches is he challenges you to do more and look beyond the box, look outside the box, look outside what you’re comfortable with so you can continually get better. Much different than the tone that a lot of coaches that I’ve been around where they just attack you and demean you for one reason or another. It’s fully expected from Kyle. He’s been that way his entire career. He expects greatness, and you’re not being great unless you’re challenging yourself, and hopefully I’m answering your question, but just Kyle, knowing him that long.”

You see plenty of coaches attack guys, whether coaches or players, in attempts to “bring the best out of them.” In my experience, the loudest coaches are the ones that can’t coach. I appreciate Saleh differentiating challenging and attacking. There is no doubt that Shanahan pushes everyone in the 49ers building. During the summer, when there are practices and training camps, you get a glimpse of Shanahan’s style of coaching. He’s not just an offensive guy, either. I’m not sure how it was in years past, but I saw Shanahan on the defensive side of the ball helping with drills, or just being around the defensive side more than most head coaches that call plays. That right, there should have been a hint.

Here is Saleh on how the two’s relationship has evolved:

“Yeah, I would like to think so, just from a trust standpoint and understanding so we can learn how to communicate with one another better. There’s always that, we’ve always known of each other, obviously, and we’ve always been around each other and we’ve always hung out, but when you get into the football world, being able to communicate with one another and understanding how he sees the game versus how I see the game and being able to mesh those two together so we can have a good, solid conversation, yeah, that’s always happening.”

Saleh also spoke about the relationship between Shanahan and Lynch as well:

“Yeah, so Kyle and John, very similar. I’m just speaking from past experience with [Seattle Seahawks head coach] Pete [Carroll] and [Seattle Seahawks general manager] John Schneider, you know, the working relationship they have is phenomenal. You can tell that they’re locked at the hip. Even in the event they may disagree, it is a very respectful conversation. They really do a good job uniting and unifying the entire building so the scouts, coaches, everybody is all on the same page with what’s being asked of them. The message is very clear. I can’t tip my hat off enough to those two and how they lead us and the way they treat one another for the entire building to see that.”

Circling back to the first report that said there was friction, I imagine a staffer walked by, heard Shanahan or Lynch say something, took it out of context, ran to the one person he knew will report the information, and here we are. You’re kidding yourself if you think these two don’t disagree several times a day. That’s football. Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel may have been no-brainers, but I’d bet the rest of the draft picks were all split in the building, as were the free-agent signings. When you spend upwards to 16 hours working together in a day, disagreements and even arguments happen. That ignores all the positives that go on. You don’t have to spend much time around this staff and this team to know that there is a special bond.

Shanahan was asked about Lynch and how tough historically it’s been for a former player to succeed as a general manager and how that shaped Shanahan’s decision to come to the 49ers:

That’s why I was so excited to come here with John. To me, he had a dream job. I’m assuming he had to work three days a week and you get paid the same amount of money. He had a great deal living in San Diego. He called me out of nowhere and said how interested he would be in an opportunity like this. For someone to want to leave that and come into this line of work, I was so impressed because I knew the reasons he wanted to do it. With John, it was clear. He loved football. He loved being around it. He wanted to be with the team. He wanted to build it the right way. When you know someone’s intentions are that. For someone as smart as John, as talented as John, he’s a very unique person. I call him captain America, because it’s true with how he acts and stuff. He’s like that all the time. He’s extremely genuine. When you’re like that, and as good of a player as he is, as smart as he is, I knew he’d be very good at it [general manager.] He’s not a huge ego guy. He’s not acting like he knows every single thing to do. John’s made it his own and I feel very lucky to be able to work with him.