How Shanahan-LaFleur bond shapes 49ers' Rodgers pursuit

Packers' Matt LaFleur and 49ers' Kyle Shanahan

Kyle Shanahan's close relationship with Matt LaFleur could be a double-edged sword if the 49ers pursued trading for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

On the one hand, the similarities between the offensive systems would make Rodgers' move from Green Bay to the Bay Area pretty painless. On the other, the coaches' friendship could make the Packers' decision to trade arguably the greatest QB in their history sting that much more.

"There's a few elements here, right?" NBC Sports Bay Area 49ers Insider Matt Maiocco said during Monday's episode of "49ers Talk." "Because Matt LaFleur runs basically the same offense as Kyle Shanahan, so it'd be a very easy transition for Rodgers to go from the Packers to the 49ers. That part of it would be seamless. He can hit the ground running Week 1, and, boom: The 49ers could be in the game like that.

"The other part of it is that Matt LaFleur has now lost NFC Championship Games two years in a row, including in his first year as head coach [last season] to the 49ers and his good friend, Kyle Shanahan. The last thing you'd want to do is have to meet Aaron Rodgers again if you're the Packers, so the obvious thing would be ship him to the AFC, get him out of your hair."

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Months removed from a blowout loss to the 49ers in the 2019 NFC Championship, the Packers traded up to select QB Jordan Love in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Rodgers admitted disappointment with the pick, but star receiver Davante Adams said last week he didn't think Love's presence deep on Green Bay's depth chart motivated Rodgers to an MVP-caliber season.


Still, Love's selection ensured the clock is ticking on Rodgers' time with the franchise that drafted him -- after the 49ers didn't -- in 2005. Rodgers' future in Green Bay never has seemed murkier than his postgame press conference Sunday after the Packers' NFC Championship loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

LaFleur wasn't as noncommittal, emphatically stating "Hell yeah, he better be back here" when asked if Rodgers will the Packers' quarterback in 2021.

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Trading the face of your franchise to a friend is one thing. Trading the face of your franchise to a friend, whose team practically would become Super Bowl favorites overnight with the acquisition of Rodgers and you would have to play in the 2021 season, as the 49ers and Packers are scheduled to square off at Levi's Stadium, might be a few bridges too far.

"Now, LaFleur and Shanahan are good friends," Maiocco continued. "Maybe they work things out a little bit. But also if you're LaFleur, do you really want one of your best friends to have Aaron Rodgers, the guy that you cast aside?

"Because the moment the Packers get rid of Aaron Rodgers, they're an also-ran. They're a team that probably would not even be in the playoffs next year, so do you really want to just gift-wrap your old buddy somebody, and watch him hoist the [Vince Lombardi Trophy] over his head, with the confetti falling down, a year from now?"