Mike & Kyle Shanahan Become First Ever Father-Son Duo to Lead NFL Teams to Super Bowl as Head Coaches

Chad Jensen

Eat your hearts out, Broncos Country.  

Three years after taking the head-coaching job in San Francisco, Kyle Shanahan has led the Niners to the Super Bowl. 

By virtue of their 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, the Niners have advanced to Super Bowl LIV to take on the Kansas City Chiefs. While Denver Broncos fans are happy to see a Shanahan once again in the big dance, it's difficult to see Kyle hoist the George Halas trophy. 

Kyle could have been the head coach in Denver. But despite GM John Elway interviewing him, and Kyle himself saying it would be a dream come true to coach the Broncos, Elway ultimately chose to hire Vance Joseph in January of 2017. And the rest is history. 

However, with Kyle leading the Niners to the Super Bowl, he made some NFL history that also happens to include the Broncos. Kyle and Mike Shanahan have become the first father-son duo to lead an NFL team to the Super Bowl as head coaches. 

Mike did it twice in the late 1990s, leading the Broncos to victories over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII and the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Thanks to Mike, Elway was not only able to get the Super Bowl monkey off his back, but the head coach also made it possible for the Hall-of-Fame quarterback to ride off into the sunset as a back-to-back World Champion. 

Mike Shanahan would go on to coach the Broncos until he was fired following the 2008 season. Fans who are old enough can remember seeing young Kyle on the Broncos' sidelines back in those days, watching his old man and soaking it all in. 

Kyle went on to become one of the most coveted offensive coordinators in the NFL, much like his dad's career path, before finally getting his name into the head-coaching conversation in January of 2017. Kyle took over a Niners franchise in the NFL doldrums. 

Three short years later, after walking the desert of back-to-back double-digit losing seasons, all of Kyle's personnel moves paid off, including the acquisition of QB Jimmy Garoppolo, with the Niners posting a 13-3 record and winning the NFC West. Now, San Francisco is headed to the Super Bowl.

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Meanwhile, speaking of wandering the NFL desert, the Broncos fired Vance Joseph almost a year ago, two seasons after he was hired, and went with defensive czar Vic Fangio as head coach. Under Fangio's purview, the Broncos had another successful draft haul in 2019, highlighted by the selection of QB Drew Lock, and would go on to post a 7-9 record in the head coach's first year. 

7-9 isn't ideal and it's technically another losing season, but with Lock inserted as the starter in Week 13, the Broncos would win four of their last five games, taking a groundswell of positive momentum with them into the 2020 offseason. The feeling internally is that the Broncos have answered their two most pressing questions; finding the right head coach and landing a franchise-caliber quarterback. 

It'll be fun to see how the 2020 season shakes out for Fangio, Lock and company. Meanwhile, with the hated Chiefs poised to be Kyle Shanahan's opponent in the Super Bowl, it's safe to say Broncos Country will be united under the Shanahan banner two weeks from now. 

Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen and @MileHighHuddle.

Comments (12)
No. 1-9
smilinassassin
smilinassassin

If the Falcons close that Super Bowl a few years ago, Kyle and his dad could have eerily similar career paths: winning a ring as a talented O.C. whilst getting the monkey off the back of a talented veteran QB, then becoming head coaches and righting the ships of respective franchises in a few years, and possibly winning Super Bowls. Not to mention taking their lumps early on in craptastic franchises like Oakland and Cleveland.

SpokaneBronco
SpokaneBronco

Go niners!

Little Phil
Little Phil

Another great story, Chad! While your sportswriting career is on the cusp of your prime years, mine is dead on arrival. [I lay no claim to be a writer of things sports.]

Having said (yada), your SI space is prime literary real estate to re-post something that I'd done writ earlier...

"As I sit here, watching the Niners trample Green Bay into the turf, it is difficult to describe the depths of my lament over what-could-have-been. The Lynch-Shanahan combo has turned a so-so team into something exciting. A class act of an organization.

Meanwhile, gazing through the murky front-office glass of the multi-monikered Mile High stadium, I can only imagine what it would be like to have San Fran’s dynamic duo…

Beyond the promise of Drew Lock, along with a few other young—and key—players, we’re way overdue for something good to come to town, someone to put some wayward pieces back together again.”

One last thing (as stated before): “I’d like to give you a ‘like’ for your commentary…but I refuse to click on one of those heart-shaped, valentine-lookin’ thingies, in place of a simple ‘thumbs-up.’ [I mean, for crapsake, SI, this is a forum of football fans—not a coven of manicurists at a nail-decorating convention… or Match.com!]”

Please pass this latest lament (about the dainty little hearts) up the chain of SI command, Chad. I think it would do us all a favor in here.

Votes, anyone?

broncofan55555
broncofan55555

I'll second that motion. This should be a great game. Andy Reid versus Kyle Shanahan will be a lot of fun to watch as the strategists go at one another for all the marbles. May Mahomes go home defeated.

Kebby77
Kebby77

Still pissed we let him walk out the door. Still salty years later. Is it Joe Ellis? Had to be , ge wouldnt let Mike back either. I think joe is trying to sabotage the team.

Lawp76
Lawp76

The question of the day is if we had hired Kyle, would he have made it to year 3 because he had losing records his 1st 2 years and John wants to win now so would John had the patience to let him stay to year 3 and win like he's winning now.

Little Phil
Little Phil

Y'know, I didn't think that through! <heh> I guess you'd hafta click on the heart to vote against the heart?! So, I guess I'll have to say "correct."

Coffeedude1234567
Coffeedude1234567

That’s cool

Brainco
Brainco

Win it Kyle!

Better yet, totally annihilate the Chiefs!


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