49ers

How 49ers, Packers' offseason moves were 'win-win' for LaFleur brothers

How 49ers, Packers' offseason moves were 'win-win' for LaFleur brothers

SANTA CLARA -- Either way, Mike LaFleur would have a significant role this week and Sunday night when the 49ers face the Green Bay Packers in a key game for positioning in the NFC playoffs.

LaFleur says he is happy with how everything worked out for himself and his brother, Matt LaFleur, the Packers’ first-year head coach.

Shortly after Matt LaFleur was tabbed as the surprise pick to coach the Packers, he reached out to the 49ers to hire his brother.

Mike LaFleur, 32, would have been a non-play-calling coordinator with the Packers. He has held a similar position with the 49ers since immediately following the 2017 season when he was promoted to passing game coordinator.

But 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan turned down the Packers’ request because Mike LaFleur would not have been in line for a promotion. Shanahan did not want to lose a valuable resource who remained under contract to the 49ers.

“It was cool -- honestly,” Mike LaFleur said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “I have so much respect for Kyle. I love being here. I love working here. I love living in this area. It was really a non-story for me.

“Obviously, it just kind of blew up. Matt put the request in there, and I understand he trusts me and he wanted me obviously to go to Green Bay with him. But he got a great coordinator in Nate Hackett. And I got to stay here. It’s a win-win for everybody. It’s awesome.”

The 49ers (9-1) face the Packers (8-2) on Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium in a game rich with longtime football connections and friendships.

The Packers’ head coach and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh became close friends in 2004 when they served as unpaid graduate assistant coaches at Central Michigan University. When Saleh ended up with the Houston Texans several years later and the Texans were looking for an entry level offensive coach, he recommended Matt LaFleur.

The offensive coordinator of that team was Kyle Shanahan.

Matt LaFleur subsequently became a trusted Shanahan assistant at Washington. When the coaching staff was fired following the 2013 season, LaFleur became offensive coordinator at Notre Dame.

Shanahan reached out to Matt LaFleur to see if his younger brother, Mike, would be interested in joining his staff with the Cleveland Browns as a quality control coach. Matt LaFleur immediately accepted the job on his brother’s behalf. Mike LaFleur was the offensive coordinator at Davidson at the time.

“It was a Sunday night and my wife was sleeping, and I got a call from Matt and he said, ‘Hey, you’re going to Cleveland,’ “ Mike LaFleur said.

The next day, Mike LaFleur drove to Cleveland. One year later, he made the move with Kyle Shanahan to the Atlanta Falcons. Mike and Matt LaFleur served two seasons together on the Falcons’ staff for before Matt went to the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 with Sean McVay. Mike followed Shanahan to the 49ers.

[RELATED: How Jimmy G joined Montana, Young in 49ers history books]

“He’s always looked after me more than he’s looked out for himself,” Mike said of his older brother. “And I like to think that I’d do the same for him.

“Obviously, this week, we both have a job to do the whole week and on Sunday for our organizations we work for. I love him, and I know he feels the same, and he’s always had my back.”

Hue Jackson wanted Browns to sign Colin Kaepernick to contract in 2017

Hue Jackson wanted Browns to sign Colin Kaepernick to contract in 2017

Colin Kaepernick hasn't played in an NFL game since Jan. 1, 2017.

But if former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson had his way, the quarterback would have played during the 2017 season.

During an interview with ESPN Cleveland on Friday, Jackson was asked about Kaepernick, and revealed that he pushed for the Browns to sign the former 49ers quarterback.

“I wanted him,” Jackson said (H/T The News-Herald). “It just didn’t work out. Obviously, those things do have to work from a finance, draft, whatever all that is. And that wasn’t my decision."

Throughout the 2016 season, Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to bring attention to racial injustices plaguing the country.

Following the 2016 NFL season, the 49ers hired Kyle Shanahan as their coach and John Lynch as the general manager. They informed Kaepernick that they planned to release him, so he opted out of his contract.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Despite his obvious talents, no team has signed Kaepernick since he became a free agent in 2017. He held a workout at an Atlanta area high school last year, but there were no suitors for his services following the showcase.

Jackson, who coached the Raiders in 2011, also mentioned that Oakland planned to draft Kaepernick in 2011 if the 49ers hadn't taken him in the second round.

“I’ve known Colin," Jackson said. "When I was with the Raiders (2011), we were going to draft him when I was there. So, obviously he’d been a really good player in the league. He had tremendous success."

With protests taking place nationwide over the last two weeks, Jackson believes Kaepernick's original message finally is being heard.

"He is a guy who has stood for something," Jackson said. "I think everybody is seeing exactly where he was coming from … I always thought Colin deserved an opportunity in this league, but he has to want to play. If he really wanted to play, I think he would have a chance again.”

[RELATED: Kap could help these five teams]

Whether or not the Browns were close to signing Kaepernick, he would have been an upgrade over what they had in-house at the time. The 2017 Cleveland team went 0-16 with DeShone Kizer, Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler seeing time at quarterback. Kizer started 15 games and threw for 2,891 yards and 11 touchdowns, while being intercepted 22 times.

Despite going 1-10 as the 49ers starter in 2016, Kaepernick completed 59.2 percent of his passes for 2,241 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was intercepted just four times.

Would Kaepernick have made the 2017 Browns a playoff team? Probably not, but they most likely would have been better than 0-16.

49ers' George Kittle reveals Trent Brown as ideal WWE tag-team partner

49ers' George Kittle reveals Trent Brown as ideal WWE tag-team partner

49ers tight end George Kittle doesn’t keep his love for wrestling a secret. He joined WWE’s Smackdown during an appearance in San Francisco, and received a personal introduction from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson during Super Bowl week.

When asked who he’d want on his side for a hypothetical tag-team match, Kittle points to a surprising player and former 49ers teammate.

“If I really wanted to win all the time, Trent Brown,” Kittle said on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast. “He’s like 6-foot-7, 350 pounds and he moves like he’s 220. I’d pick him because he’d just pick people up and throw them around.”

[RELATED: Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block]

Brown began his NFL career with the 49ers after being selected in the seventh round of the 2015 draft. He and Kittle shared a locker room for the 2017 season, before Brown was traded to the New England Patriots that offseason.

Brown’s athleticism is shocking, given his size (Kittle actually was slightly off: Brown is listed at 6-8), and he earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2019 as the Raiders' right tackle. Brown signed a four-year $66 million contract with the team last summer, and is the highest-paid offensive tackle in football.

These two really could do some damage between the ropes.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]