John Lynch, whom the 49ers hired Sunday to be general manager, saw his future coach Kyle Shanahan two weeks ago and made a comment that proved to be a portend.
Shanahan, Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, had just dialed up a play that resulted in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to running back Tevin Coleman. The play gave the Falcons a 19-10 lead late in the second quarter against the Seahawks in the divisional playoff game.
Lynch was calling the game as a FOX analyst, alongside play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt. It is customary for TV crews to meet with the top coaches and players for both teams in production meetings to gain insights leading up to the game.
“You know, Kyle, I think he goes in these production, er, excuse me, interviews and maybe comes off a little confident, a little arrogant,” Lynch said. “I don’t care. I want an arrogant coach. I want a confident coach. I’d be hiring that guy in a second.”
Actually, it turns out that Shanahan, 37, played the major role in hiring Lynch, 45, to his first job as an NFL executive.
Lynch will come out of the broadcast booth to be in charge of the 49ers’ personnel department. He and Shanahan will receive contracts of six years in length, according to a source. The 49ers are prohibited from officially hiring Shanahan until after Super 51 on Feb. 5.
Here are some other comments Lynch made about Shanahan during the course of Falcons’ 36-20 victory over the Seahawks in an NFC divisional-round game on Jan. 14.
In the first quarter after Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman was called for defensive holding:
“When we met with the Falcons the other day, Dan Quinn and Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator, said, ‘Look, we’re not going to complain about calls. When you play Seattle, you know you’re going to get held on every play. Beat it.’ Kyle Shanahan’s dad, Mike Shanahan, I played for him. I used to hear him all the time. ‘If you can’t beat man coverage, you’re complaining about holding, start selling cars. That’s part of the job.’”
On the first play after taking over at their own 1-yard line in the second quarter, Ryan hit receiver Julio Jones for an 8-yard gain:
“One of the things I think they do, Kevin, we just saw them throw from the end zone. They don’t play scared. They attack people. When you have great weapons, that’s how you should play. Matt Ryan said the first thing Dan Quinn said to the team, ‘Offense, defense, we’re going to be the best attacking offense in football, the best attacking defense.’ They attack people.”
After Ryan hit Jones on a 12-yard gain early in the third quarter:
“Kyle Shanahan continuing to design plays that are really tough to defend.”
Lynch referenced Falcons running backs coach Bobby Turner, who also coached with Kyle Shanahan and under Mike Shanahan with Washington, after Coleman’s 7-yard gain in the third quarter:
“Bobby Turner, the running back coach for the Atlanta Falcons, is the same guy who coached in Denver. Terrell Davis. That’s the style of running. You stretch, stretch, stretch, you see someone get cut down on the back side, and then you hit it downhill. Tevin Coleman doing it to perfection.”
After running back Devonta Freeman was matched against Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril on a play that went for a 53-yard pass play, Lynch talked about how Shanahan took advantage of the injury to that left the Seahawks without safety Earl Thomas:
“You got Cliff Avril right there on Devonta Freeman. That is a mismatch. And that’s what Kyle Shanahan talked about. There you see the missing of Earl Thomas. That kind of move in space, Earl Thomas is likely to make that tackle and Steven Terrell can’t. But Kyle Shanahan talked in the first matchup. They kept Freeman in and blocked when they ran those blitzes. This time, he said, ‘We’re not going to keep him in. We’re going to put him out there on those defensive ends.’ Great job by the Atlanta Falcons. They have so much speed on this offense.
On Coleman and Freeman as a pair of running backs:
“There’s no better tandem in the league. They throw so much at you as all-around backs. They beat you rushing the ball. They beat you in the pass game. We’ve seen it. They both can fly. Kyle Shanahan is an offensive coordinator who knows how to utilize them.”
Late in the game:
“I think Julio Jones said it really well. He said, ‘John, Kevin, you’ve been there. When you’re confident, when you know something inside and out, your talent can come to the forefront. Last year, Matt Ryan did not have a grasp of this entire scheme.’ Kyle Shanahan throws a lot at you. He goes after people, so it’s a different game plan each week. . . The familiarity. Dan Quinn said, ‘You two are going to hang out this offseason.’ Matt Ryan, Kyle Shanahan, they got the scheme down and you’re seeing the rewards. . . This is a fabulous offense.”