As the head coach -- not general manager or member of the front office staff -- Shanahan’s role in contract negotiations is limited but just as important.
While speaking with The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on “The TK Show” on Monday, Shanahan shared what his involvement with the Samuel situation has been like.
“Anything that I’m involved on, I try to keep it very simple,” Shanahan told Kawakami. “And so that’s what was so nice about someone like Deebo … It’s tough when you’re a coach because you understand the coaching aspect, you know what these players go through and if you just look at it that way, I think every player in the league is underpaid. This league makes a lot of money, and these players go through a lot of stuff so you always look at it that way.
“But then when you become a head coach or general manager and stuff like that, you do get to see the other side, and your job is to put the best football team together possible. And so you work with all these players and your goal is to get them paid. And you want it to be by you, but you’ve got to balance all that stuff together so you have a chance to win so everyone can continue to get paid.”
It’s a tough job to do, Shanahan added, and that’s why it's left for those capable of making those important decisions.
But that's not to say that Shanahan's voice goes unheard, especially with a player like Samuel, who he was known to have a great relationship with over his record-breaking 2021 season.
"We always liked Deebo. I always wanted him to be part of our team," Shanahan said. "But he played at a certain level where we knew that Deebo deserves to be up there. He earned that, and now you’ve got to figure out how to do that best for him, how to do that best for us and how to do that best going forward for the rest of our roster. But it was nice because right when the season ended, there’s no, ‘Hey man, I love you, but I don’t feel this way about you.’ And that’s good when that’s real, because I’ve had to go through some stuff with people where it’s like, ‘I do love you, but sorry, man, this isn’t where you’re at.’
"And that can be tough, and sometimes people like when you keep it real with them, and sometimes people don’t. You’ve got to go through all that stuff throughout these relationships, but when it’s all said and done, I think Deebo’s going to make a lot of money, money that he’s earned, and I think he’s going to continue to have a good chance to make a lot of money going forward."
While Samuel still doesn't have a new contract, Shanahan is expecting the wide receiver to participate in drills at the 49ers training camp this week. And if he does, Shanahan's "simple" mindset will have definitely paid off.