How Kyle Shanahan's relationship with Bill Belichick grew after Super Bowl LI

How Kyle Shanahan's relationship with Bill Belichick grew after Super Bowl LI

MIAMI, Fla. -- Kyle Shanahan blew a 28-3 lead in his last trip to the Super Bowl. The then-Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator got a shade too conservative and shouldered significant blame for why the New England Patriots surged in the second half to win Super Bowl LI.

While Patriots coach Bill Belichick enjoyed the victory, he surely felt for a young offensive mind who hit a new professional low. Belichick has great respect for Shanahan and vice versa, which was evident after that gut-wrenching loss.

“It was really cool that he reached out to me after the Super Bowl just to talk,” Shanahan said Monday at Marlins Park during Super Bowl Opening Night. “I was able to spend some time with him at the [2017] NFL combine, which I was very appreciative of. Any time that guy talks, everyone in the world listens. That was especially true for someone like me who aspired to be a head coach. He has been great. It’s not like we talk a ton or anything, but he’s a humble guy who likes to help people.”

That wasn’t the first time Belichick has reached out to a Shanahan looking to talk shop. He did so during the 2005 AFC playoffs, right after then-Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan beat his Patriots 27-13 in the divisional round.

Kyle Shanahan was in Mike’s office when Belichick stopped by but got booted so the two head coaches could chat.

“I got kicked out of the room, and I had to sit and wait,” Shanahan said. “I remember my dad saying how cool that was for him to come over after the game, after the Patriots had lost, just to talk ball with him.”

Belichick and Kyle Shanahan talked extensively at the combine and spoke again during the 2017 season when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was made available.

Though he has never addressed it directly, it’s generally understood within the Boston media that Belichick didn’t shop Garoppolo to establish leverage in the trade market, choosing instead to give his young backup quarterback a good home. He found one with the 49ers -- the Patriots only received a second-round pick in return -- believing Garoppolo could grow and thrive working with Shanahan.

“Having someone like Bill say something like that, for me and what I do in life, if pretty cool,” Shanahan said. “That’s a big a compliment as I could personally have. It feels great. Hopefully that’s true because I’m very glad he felt that way, and I feel very fortunate that we were able to get Jimmy.”

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Shanahan said he isn’t trying to exorcise demons on Sunday with the 49ers play the Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, or looking to make up for mistakes when the Falcons fell just short.

“I know it comes off like that from a narrative and media standpoint, and I can drive a stake through that if it works out right,” Shanahan said. “That [criticism] stuff, just as a coach, it was harder for me when I was younger in my career. The four years I was in Washington helped me a little bit more and start to realize you can worry about what everybody says. You have to prepare, do as well as you can and not hesitate. When you get worried about blame, that’s when you hesitate. That’s when you make mistakes.

"I’m always hard on myself, but I’m aggressive, I prepare hard and I leave it all out on the line. That’s how I treated every game before that Super Bowl. It’s how I treated that Super Bowl and every game after.”

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.

49ers hopeful receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

49ers hopeful receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even before the 49ers have the opportunity to select a wide receiver in the draft, the club expects to add the services of a young pass-catcher.

Jalen Hurd, a third-round draft pick from a year ago, appears to be on schedule to receive clearance to rejoin the 49ers when the offseason program begins in April. Hurd spent his rookie season on injured reserve due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

“For it to completely heal, it happens on different timelines,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We found that his has been stubborn. We think he’s been nearing towards a much better place where he’ll be cleared for all activities.

“(We) don’t want to officially give that word, but there have been some recent scans and things that give us a lot of hope that that’ll be the case, come April 1, he’ll be a full-go.”

Hurd was not around the team too much during his rookie season. He did not travel to Miami for Super Bowl LIV due to concerns about aggravating his back condition.

“I think there’s a little anxiety on his part that the long plane rides had set him off before and he worked so hard to try to get right, and kind of didn’t want that to enter the equation,” Lynch said.

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In order for Hurd's back to heal, the 49ers and Hurd felt it was best to keep him off his feet.  

“With his back stuff, he didn’t want to travel, didn’t want to be in the meetings and everything," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "There wasn’t much to do. He had a stress fracture and it’s taking a long time to heal, so we wanted him to be as immobile as possible.”

Hurd (6-foot-4, 227 pounds) caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season at Baylor in 2018. He played his first three college seasons at Tennessee, where he rushed for 2,635 yards and 20 touchdowns as a running back.

Hurd appeared in the 49ers’ preseason opener last summer and caught two touchdown passes against the Dallas Cowboys before experiencing the back condition that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

George Kittle's secret to Kyle Shanahan's wife gets back to 49ers coach

George Kittle's secret to Kyle Shanahan's wife gets back to 49ers coach

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Kyle Shanahan escaped to Cabo San Lucas shortly after the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss to get away from it all.

Shanahan ended up “randomly” spending time with 49ers players George Kittle, Nick Mullens, Trent Taylor and Levine Toilolo, who also went to Mexico for a vacation and some golf.

"I think we broke a record," Shanahan said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We played like nine holes in five hours."

Kittle, an All-Pro tight end, is in line for a massive contract extension this offseason. This is the first time he can renegotiate a new contract after coming to the 49ers as a fifth-round draft pick in 2017.

The next time Kittle steps on the field with the 49ers, he is expected to have a new deal that will make him the highest-paid tight end in the league.

He might have given away some of his negotiating power while confiding in Mandy Shanahan, Kyle’s wife.

“He told my wife how much he liked it here (with the 49ers),” Shanahan said. “He even told my wife to promise not to tell me until after he signs. She told me. She’s my wife.”

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Kittle made base salaries of $465,000, $555,000 and $645,000 in his first three NFL seasons. His salary is scheduled to increase to $2.144 million in 2020 with a performance bonus. His next contract is expected to worth more than $12 million per season.

Kittle was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second time last season. He caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. In 2018, Kittle set the NFL single-season record for a tight end with 1,377 receiving yards.