Matt LaFleur understands the business of being an NFL coach, as he is in the midst of his third season as the coach in Green Bay. That's why LaFleur is not holding anything against his friend and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan after the 49ers looked into trading for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers the day before the NFL draft. The Packers declined, thus leading to the 49ers selecting quarterback Trey Lance with the No. 3 overall pick. Rodgers returned to Green Bay after restructuring his contract.
Ahead of his team's road game against the 49ers on Sunday night, LaFleur was asked this week whether the 49ers' offseason interest in Rodgers has in any way impacted his relationship with Shanahan. The two coaches have been friends since coaching together on Washington's staff in the late 2000s.
"Kyle's a great friend of mine," said LaFleur, who is 1-2 against Shanahan and the 49ers. "I haven't talked to him in a while. It's just part of the business. … I hold no ill will towards him."
LaFleur was asked if it was difficult to have that type of conversation -- possibly trading away a three-time MVP -- with someone he considers a friend.
"It is what it is," LaFleur said. "I understand. He's trying to do whatever he thinks he needs to do for his football team. He's got a responsibility to everybody in that organization if he's got an opportunity. I don't hold that against him. That will have no affect on our relationship."
Shanahan was also asked this week about the trade that didn't happen.
"I thought it would be a quick, 'No,' and it wound up exactly what I thought it would be," Shanahan said, via Sports Illustrated's Grant Cohn. "But you hear enough stuff -- everyone knew what was going on at that time. It didn't seem like it was worth the call, but I know how we would have felt if it was going to happen and we didn't call. You call them, you get a quick answer, which is what you're expecting, and you move on."
Instead of trading quarterbacks, both teams will have their same starters on Sunday in Rodgers and 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. While he threw just eight passes, Garoppolo emerged as the winning quarterback following the 49ers' 37-20 win over the Packers in the 2019 NFC Championship Game. And while he stressed that the 2021 season is still in its infancy, LaFleur acknowledged that a win over the 49ers would be significant for him and his team. After an injury-marred 2020 season, the 49ers are one of just seven undefeated teams entering Week 3. Two keys to the 49ers' success has been their top-ranked red zone offense and sixth-ranked third down defense.
"I think there's a lot of ball in front of us, a lot of things will play out along the way," LaFleur said. "But you're talking about one of the premier teams not only in the NFC but in the National Football League, and I think you can see it in every phase."