Kyle Shanahan was certain he was not going to be hired as the next coach of the team his father led to two Super Bowl titles.
But after a four-hour interview in January 2017, Shanahan seemed to be a serious contender for the Denver Broncos job that ended up going to Vance Joseph. Kansas City special-teams coordinator Dave Toub was the only other candidate for the opening after Gary Kubiak resigned.
“I’d like to think I made the decision hard of them, but I didn’t think I had much of a chance before,” Shanahan said Wednesday, as the 49ers prepare to face the Broncos on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium.
Shanahan’s father, Mike, still lives in the Denver area. Shanahan and his wife, Mandy, still consider that area home.
“But I definitely happy where I’m am, and I think it’s definitely a better situation not being there with my dad,” Shanahan said. “I enjoy going back there to visit, but I like living where I’m at.”
Shanahan interviewed for three head-coaching jobs in the first week of January while he was the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator. He met with the 49ers and Broncos on Jan. 6. A day later, he interviewed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Another scheduled interview got canceled when weather issues prevented Rams officials from traveling to Atlanta to meet with Shanahan.
Shanahan interviewed with Broncos general manager John Elway and president Joe Ellis – two men who knew when he was much younger and his father was with the Broncos organization.
Now, Shanahan believes it was probably the better fit to step away from his father’s shadow and take his first head-coaching job with the 49ers, where he hand-picked general manager John Lynch.
But things have not exactly been smooth for Shanahan. After the 49ers went 6-10, the club has fallen to a 2-10 record with just four games remaining in his second season in charge.
Kyle Shanahan said his father’s input is always encouraged, and they speak regularly. He compared the dynamic to when he was in college and would call his dad after games to share his thoughts.
“He does the same thing to me that I did to him my entire life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “No matter how busy he was, he had to make sure he set aside to spend about 20 minutes to answer or return my phone call when I was in college so I could tell him all the things he did right and he did wrong.
“He always took it. Now that I look back on it, he was probably watching film and halfway listening to me the whole time. At least I thought he was (listening). He does the same to me. But I definitely listen to him more than he did to me.”