Super Bowl 2020: Kyle Shanahan says Bill Belichick reached out to him after Falcons blew 28-3 lead
A budding friendship between the two head coaches began following Super Bowl LI
Kyle Shanahan probably didn't feel like he had many positives to take with him following the Falcons' historic loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI. Shanahan, the 49ers' head coach and former Falcons offensive coordinator, saw his team take a 28-3 lead before squandering it against the Patriots, who finished off the comeback in the first Super Bowl that needed overtime to be decided.
Two years removed from that loss, Shanahan recalled one positive that did occur following that historic loss, and described it during Monday night's media session from Miami ahead of his team's matchup with the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. Shanahan, who has guided the 49ers to their first Super Bowl appearance since 2012, told reporters that Bill Belichick contacted him during that ensuing offseason.
"It was really cool that he reached out to me after the Super Bowl just to talk," Shanahan said of Belichick, via Scott Bair of NBC Sports. "I was able to spend some time with him at the NFL combine (in 2017), which I was very appreciative of. Any time that guy talks, everyone in the world listens. That was especially true for someone like me who aspired to be a head coach. He has been great. It's not like we talk a ton or anything, but he's a humble guy who likes to help people."
The two coaches continued to communicate during the 2017 season, when Belichick looked to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the Patriots' second round pick in the 2014 draft. And instead of shopping him on the market, Belichick instead decided to give his quarterback a landing spot that he believed would ensure future success for Garoppolo.
Garoppolo has indeed blossomed under Shanahan. In 24 regular season games as the 49ers' starter, Garopplo has compiled a 19-5 record. During that span, he's completed 67.7% of his passes with 39 touchdowns. And while he didn't have to do much during the 49ers' first two playoff wins, Garoppolo did go 17-of-27 while doing his part to help San Francisco reach Super Bowl LIV.
"Having someone like Bill say something like that, for me and what I do in life, if pretty cool," Shanahan said. "That's a big a compliment as I could personally have. It feels great. Hopefully that's true (that Belichick wanted Garoppolo to go to the 49ers) because I'm very glad he felt that way, and I feel very fortunate that we were able to get Jimmy."
Along with Belichick, Shanahan has learned from another Super Bowl winning head coach in his father, Mike Shanahan, who presented the George Halas Trophy to his son Kyle after the 49ers defeated the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Kyle Shanahan, who watched his father lead the Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in the late '90s, was a member of his coaching staff with the Redskins from 2010-13. And while the elder Shanahan is not an official member of the 49ers' coaching staff, Mike Shanahan said that he is pretty dialed into what the 49ers are doing on a daily basis.
"I watch all his practices (remotely)," Shanahan told Sean Keller of The Denver Post prior to the NFC Championship Game. "I watch all his games, so I have a feeling, going into the game, what the game plan is. So for me, it's not just watching … you put the hours in during the week. You know what direction they're going to go. That's fun for me. To be able to watch that, from my perspective, has been very fun."
Shanahan, speaking to reporters Monday, said that he has gained something else from the Falcons' loss to the Patriots.
"I can speak first-hand that I've been a part of a Super Bowl, and a lot of people blame me for a lot of stuff (that happened in that game)," Shanahan said, via Michael Nowels of the Red Bluff Daily News. "And you know what? I'm still alive and I was all right the next day... .You go as hard as you can, you do as good as you can, and you live with the consequences."
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