Shanahan’s intensity behind the scenes belies public persona

MIAMI — We don’t see the real Kyle Shanahan.

We see his alter ego — “Kyle.” First name only. That’s what he presents to the media. Kyle is chill, low-key, soft spoken. Your buddy. He wears sweatpants and never shaves. Looks like a college student who rolled out of bed and went to his 8 a.m. class in pajamas.

That’s not the real Kyle Shanahan.

When he’s around the 49ers, he flips a switch. He pulls a Keyser Soze, the mysterious character in the film “The Usual Suspects.” One minute, he’s an innocent bystander. The next minute, he’s the ruthless, foul-mouthed mastermind of the whole, deadly operation.

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh let Shanahan’s secret slip during Super Bowl media day. A British reporter had asked Saleh if he and Shanahan complement each other “in a yin-and-yang sort of way,” because Shanahan is so laid back and Saleh screams and jumps during games.

Saleh had to set the record straight. “You know, he’s a lot more intense than I am,” Saleh said of Shanahan. “He hides it better than I do.”

The British reporter had the yin-and-yang relationship backward. Saleh is the laid-back one. He has such a calm demeanor, Shanahan calls him Gandhi.

No one ever would call Shanahan Gandhi. He says, “F—” too much.

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This article has 57 Comments

  1. I personally believe every person who has ever accomplished anything great operates with a very high level of intensity and passion. If you don’t really care about something why waste your time on it. Only reservation I have is hopefully Shanny doesn’t burn out at a young age. He is a great coach and Sunday is a major stepping stone to his legacy. The crazy thing is I believe this team is still a ways away from the great teams Shanny will field in the upcoming seasons.

  2. That’s the scary apart; this team still has a ton of players to develop to their full potential. Bosa is only a rookie along with deebo

    1. I could read it.

      Maybe it’s like other media pay walls where you get a limited number of free articles a month. Try clearing your cookies from your browser….it might work.

      As for the article, yeah he’s intense but it’s good to hear he’s intense about the details. Walsh’s attention to little details (like how routes should be run down to the body positioning on breaks in the route) was much of the secret magic to his offense as anything.

      Sounds like it was a good idea to get rid of Vance McDonald (not even taking into account Kittle in hind site).
      Hasn’t McDonald done okay with Pittsburgh (though I think he took a step back in 2019).

  3. I dunno. Kyle seems like a pretty intense “type A” kind of guy to me -a highly motivated, meticulous person who is driven to be the best. Not unlike the legendary man of Irish heritage who previously coached the red and gold to greatness.

    I don’t think Kyle’s “casual” attire factors much into the equation. I see a person very much “in control” of himself. Such a refreshing change from the bloviating antics of Jim Harbaugh. The 9ers could never have (and did not) achieve greatness with JH.

    Win or lose Sunday, Kyle Shanahan is a very impressive man.

    1. I think KS is intense in his own way, like on the sidelines during a game. But he’s pretty chill, loose, laughs a little, jokes around at times and not hung up on dressing and looking clean cut all the time. He’s the calmer type of coach which is good, not like Harbaugh and whiny, or sharp tongued. He also unlike Harbaugh answers questions in depth and detail. No short 8 word replies like Harbaugh with a snarky look. Only thing I wish he would change is when he answers questions, I wish he cut out saying ..”um”.. every 8-10 words. Other than that he’s great!!..especially if they win the SB and do great in the draft, pick up a couple good FA’s and develop the young players more. Then maybe they return to the SB next year. Who knows, maybe another dynasty has started.

      1. I’d rather Kyle focus on his offensive schemes and overall game planing than worry about cleaning up a verbal tic.

        If he were a lawyer, politician or talking head, I might say different.

    1. When I was in Ireland many years ago the word was used like punctuation. It started before the Aer Lingus plane even stopped on the tarmac. Two sweet young girls saw their dad on the tarmac and suddenly started chiming “is that f-ing da… no f-ing way it’s da… f…”

  4. KS is pretty intense. He was ticked off after having to call a time out, to prevent a delay of game penalty in the Viking game, even though the Niners seem to have control of the game.
    .
    KS seems to have learned from his mistakes, and is not repeating them. In this game, he needs to make shrewd assessments and quick adjustments. I hope he comes out with a totally different scheme in the second half.
    .
    I do not think the Niners will be able to run roughshod, like they did in the Packers game. They need to be balanced, so the Chiefs will not know if they will run or pass. I hope the Niners are deceptive, and KS dials up some innovative plays that catch them off guard.

  5. Relieved the team is no longer available to the press. I felt bad for the players being forced to repeatedly compliment their counterparts on the opposing team.

    Press: Jimmy, what do you like about Patrick? Patrick, what do you like about Jimmy?

    Even the head coaches weren’t exempt.

    Press: Kyle, what do you like about Andy? Andy, what do you like about Kyle?

    I found it weird and infantilizing.

  6. KS should expect Reid will do the unexpected.
    .
    Maybe Reid has hidden LeSean McCoy, and may unleash him at this SB. He may line up 3 WRs, and run the ball.

    1. Forgot about Shady? he is on the roster? crap Prob won’t play…

      Yes Kyle has to be intense to take a loser team (no offense) and get them Super Bowl ready….he cracks the whip..guys do it or get gone he is the boss.

  7. Grant,
    Outstanding article. Like your Dad when you write pieces that focus on people more than sport you do a great job capturing their humanity. KS is the perfect combination of a players coach and an old school coach. He can be a hard ass with very high expectations and at the same time he never throws his players under the bus publicly and they know he loves them as human beings. Like Houston wrote above I am also concerned that he might burn out. I hope he is around another 14 yrs. That would take me to 80 yrs old and after that he can retire and his son can take over.

  8. Agree Old Coach. I’ve been saying for years that when Coach Iggy writes personal, humanity pieces, they are magnificent, very similar to pops. When he delves into explaining football “the game”, he sounds like someone who has never played or coached the sport, other than watching it on TV. Wait a minute! That’s indeed the case! Film study? The 5 things they need to do to win? Post game grades? Please. Very nicely written article though.

  9. Nice job, Grant! Good to get an up-close and personal look at the coach! Appreciate all the posts this week. Have there been any surprises for you this week?

  10. From NN about the Niner D after rest:

    Week 1: 3 sacks, 3 INT and 2 FF (preseason bye)
    Week 4: 4 sacks, 2 INT and 3 FF (reg season bye)
    Week 9: 5 sacks, 1 INT and 5 FF (12 days rest)
    Divisional: 6 sacks 1 INT and 2 FF (playoff bye)

    Regular season averages: 3 sacks, .75 INT, 1.4 FFs

      1. It seems to me that the key is to put pressure without letting him out of the pocket rather than rushing to get him on the turf — not very different from containing Wilson. The wide 9 formation maybe helpful in that regard,

        Steve Young and Greg Cossell among other knowledgeable commentators think that the Niners should stick primarily with zone defense. What do you think?

        1. I have no doubt that’s what they’ll do but I expect Saleh to have a few wrinkles to mix it up. I’m counting on Woods to come up big in this game as far as the coverages tied to the pass rush….

          1. Yes, I’d expect Saleh to incorporate substantial post snap movement to keep Mahomes looking and holding the ball a few hundred milliseconds longer. Niners backfield has excellent communication which will help in this regard. Tartt in Cover 3 buzz may be a factor. Also I’d expect Niners to play quite a bit dime with Moore, especially on 3rd down.

        2. The D is built to primarily play zone, and I think they should stick with that but I think they need to mix things up in this game as well and probably play a bit more man than usual.

          Mahomes has struggled more with man than zone this year, which is why a lot of people are saying they need to primarily play man this game. But looks to me the main reason Mahomes has had lots of success against zone is his ability to extend plays. Zone doesn’t hold up as long as man can. That is why for me it is the pass rush that will be so important. They have to force Mahomes to get rid of the ball or take the sack and not allow him to extend plays. If they do that successfully then the zone D can work and provides a greater opportunity for turnovers as defenders will be able to watch the QB and break on the ball.

          Basically, key is to try and confuse Mahomes (so vary coverages) and don’t allow him time to wait for guys to come open (so pass rush has to limit his time).

        3. What you’ve done all year was good enough to win 15 games and get you here. Why change now?

          A lot of people still really don’t know how good this team is. They’ll learn tomorrow night.

  11. Congratulations Bosa, DROY. Shannie was robbed though. JHarbaugh brings out his team flat and is smoked one and done and rewarded with COY? 🙄

    But the 2019 Ravens will be remembered best for how successfully they ran the ball

    —NFL.com

    Umm no, remembered best for how they were run off the field after being anointed as presumptive champs.

        1. Hah, hey Rib, I hope you packed a little rain gear as I suggested. Glad you are finding time to drop some posts while you represent down in The Magic City, USA! Way to be Faithful, brother, hope your having the time of your life!

          And most of all ……. let’s bring the 🏆 back home – GO NINERS!

      1. Thanks Mood. Given my ticket location way up I’m nosebleed, I can safely say the rest of Grantworld is beneath me! J/K. Yes, it’s a heavy mantle, but I’ll be rep with as much class and dignity as I’m capable of, especially towards those knuckleheads who call themselves Chiefs fans.

    1. Sorry, Franklin, not me. I did go by “TouchdownNiners” for a bit. Ironically, and sadly, we didn’t score many TDs during that period.

  12. On offense, the conventional wisdom from the wise and knowledgeable appears to be that Kyle will start with an aggressive passing game since the run, or the threat thereof, has already been firmly “established” in Spags’ mind. Will Kyle start off with a deep play action pass? What is view here?

  13. Since a little slow on the boards tonight, for yucks I went back in the draft era posts. Lol, all I got to say, is 99.9% of the posters should just hold their tongues, think before posting, then seriously consider never posting a single thing again. #embarrasing. Deebo and Bosa are sure busts, Lynch nothing but a pretty boy talking head and Shannie still needing that OC.

    However, the best gem I came across was from our good pal Rob:

    Rob Priline says:
    April 27, 2019 at 9:40 am
    Rarely come to this blog anymore. Just during draft time mainly. As long as the Yorks own the 49ers and are in charge, I see the team going nowhere. And this year’s draft is yet another reaffirmation of that. Now following Baker Mayfield and my beloved Browns

    Beloved Browns? lololol

  14. I don’t know how the AP could pick John Harbaugh over KS. In what way did JH beat KS’ turnaround from 4-12 to 13-3 and punching the ticket to the SB. Are they suggesting that the return of Jimmy G was the primary reason. If so, why didn’t Jimmy get comeback player of the year.

  15. If the Niners run it 40 + times they win easily
    If the Niners pass it 40 + times they are in deep trouble
    If the Niners are even run/pass anybody’s game

    pound the rock

  16. One major reason why the Niners have an advantage, is Mike Shanahan. He brings a wealth of knowledge, and KS is following the Terrell Davis model. Run the ball, and keep control of the game.
    .
    Reid is going to try to stack the box, and dare JG to pass, but if JG passes the ball to his RBs, they still get to run after they catch it. If the Niners keep attacking the LBs, they may be unstoppable.
    .
    Therefore, I am going to change my prediction. I used to think- Niners 35-34, but I am leaning towards what Donte Whitner said. I still think Mahomes may score 34; he cannot be stopped, and the best solution is to give him less opportunities to score. However, If JG concentrates on finishing drives, and scores TDs instead of settling for Field Goals, he can score 6 times. I also think the Niner defense may get a defensive score, so 49 points may be an appropriate figure for the 49ers.
    .
    49ers 49-34. They fulfill their quest!
    .
    GO NINERS !!!!!! SIX !!!!!!

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