Kyle Shanahan vividly recalls as a teenager being on the sideline for Super Bowl XXIX, when his father, Mike, was the 49ers’ offensive coordinator under George Seifert.
Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett may or may not have been at the Super Bowl 10 years earlier when his dad, Paul, coached 49ers quarterbacks under legendary Bill Walsh.
“I believe I was,” said Hackett, who would have been five years, one month and one day old when the 49ers defeated the Dolphins, 38-16, in Super Bowl XIX on Jan. 20, 1985.
“I know I was little. It was against the Miami Dolphins at Stanford Stadium. I look at my dad’s Super Bowl ring a bunch. It’s pretty incredible.”
The Shanahan-led 49ers face Hackett’s Broncos on Sunday Night Football in a game featuring head coaches from football families with strong ties to the Walsh-era 49ers.
Mike Shanahan did not coach under Walsh, but the 49ers kept Walsh’s system intact and had his coaching material available for offensive coaches who came through the organization.
Even today, Hackett traces a lot of how he coaches to the three-time Super Bowl-winning coach of the 49ers.
“How we coach the quarterbacks here at Denver is all based on Bill’s principles and the things that my father learned and passed on to me,” Hackett said this week on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.
“I think that’s where it all starts from how you talk to the quarterback, how you talk about the footwork, how you time everything up in the precision-pass game and the vertical-pass game. So he’s had a very large effect on me. We still run a lot of the plays that Bill Walsh ran back in those days. They are still very good football plays.”
Hackett was a young assistant coach at Stanford from 2003 to 2005 when he was afforded the opportunity to spend time with Walsh. After serving as a 49ers consultant, Walsh remained close to the Stanford program until his death in July 2007.
“It was awesome just talking with him and him showing me those plays again after my dad had already showed them to me,” Hackett said. “I think there’s so much about how you train a quarterback and teach a quarterback. It’s a beautiful way when it comes to the West Coast offense.”
Hackett says his father, now 75, jokes with him often about some of the plays he recognizes from 30, 40 years ago.
“I say, ‘We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel,’” Nathaniel Hackett said. “It is amazing the evolution of the game. The true West Coast world has kind of disappeared, but the way you train it and a lot of the plays, a lot of those things are still the foundation, are still the backbone of a lot of offenses.”