Kyle Shanahan Reflects on Experience With the Atlanta Falcons

Jose Luis Sanchez III

A bit of nostalgia could be felt when San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan stepped to the podium today at his press conference to talk about this Sunday's matchup with his former employer the Atlanta Falcons. 

When asked if his experience with Atlanta was shaded by the last game (Super Bowl LI) he had there - Shanahan answered: 

“Not at all. I loved my time in Atlanta, loved the people I was there with. I went there at a tough time in my career and just the two previous places I had been and went with a head coach that I hadn’t known, just talking to him on the phone and stuff where we developed a real good relationship. I didn’t know a lot of guys there, but got to know [Atlanta Falcons head coach] Dan [Quinn] over the phone. The first day I met him was the day after the Super Bowl when Seattle lost to New England, I was already sitting there in the office so I met him that Monday in person. I always thought he was going to be a great guy on the phone and then after being able to spend two years there with him, learned a lot from him. It was good to be in a good place like that and really enjoyed the players too.”

Week 15's matchup with the Falcons will be the third time this season that Shanahan will face a former employer. Of all the press conferences he has had to reflect on his experience with those teams - his reflection with the Falcons was the most positive.  

Shanahan spent two seasons as Atlanta's offensive coordinator from 2015-2017. His offensive system got the most out of the Falcons as Matt Ryan earned MVP honors as well as a trip to Super Bowl LI against the New England Patriots. Shanahan was also named NFL Assistant Coach of the Year during the 2016 Super Bowl season.  

2019 has practically been a revenge tour for Shanahan because of all the matchups he has had with former employers. It started off with the Cleveland Browns in week five, where he resigned after one season due to fallout with the front office. Then with the Washington Redskins in week seven, where he was fired along with his father Mike Shanahan at the end of the 2013 season. 

He may not admit it, but Shanahan had to have been smiling inside after beating down both of these teams. There definitely seemed to be some bad blood left with both of those tenures, but with the Falcons it is nothing but love from Shanahan.

“I was specifically hoping to go to Atlanta, but Dan still had another five weeks going through their playoff run, their Bye Week and Super Bowl. I knew that talking to him that it would be a chance if he did end up taking a job and stuff, but he turned one down the year before. Sitting there without a job, it wasn’t like I was just totally set and confident that it was going to happen, but I was definitely hoping it would.”

Not a single shot, be it subtle or not, was taken at the Falcons. Nothing but admiration was spewed from Shanahan during today's presser. Whereas during the lead up against Washington, Shanahan said that the only positive working there was that he was with his dad. Sunday will be nothing but mutual respect for Shanahan towards the Falcons and Dan Quinn, who may be out of a job by seasons end. This is still a must win game for the 49ers who need to keep up the pace if they want to clinch a first-round bye.

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Nice to a situation such as this one where there was a clean break between the two sides. It will also be nice when the 49ers smack the Falcons.