In a Denver suburb, a coach awakens at 4 a.m.
He shuffles into his office space, iPad in hand, and begins watching video of 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek working his position group during individual drills from the previous day’s practice in Santa Clara.
Mike Shanahan, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach of the Denver Broncos, cannot get enough of this stuff. He is retired. But he is not really retired.
“My mom doesn’t like it, though, because he’s still working at their house, and she doesn’t get why he won’t come out of the film room,” Kyle Shanahan, Mike’s son and head coach of the 49ers, told NBC Sports Bay Area.
It is common for every coach in the NFL to get advice or hear feedback from family members. But there is a major difference with Kyle Shanahan.
“My dad actually does know what he’s talking about,” Kyle said.
Mike Shanahan served as an NFL head coach for 20 years. He was George Seifert’s offensive coordinator for three seasons more than two decades ago. His last season with the 49ers before taking over on a 14-year run as Broncos head coach came in 1994, when the organization won its last Super Bowl.
There is not much Mike Shanahan can tell his 40-year-old son at this stage of the season. The 49ers play the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium in the divisional-round of the NFC playoffs.
Kyle Shanahan has already learned about as much from his dad as possible through the decades, including how to manage the team late in the regular season for a deep playoff push. They talk a couple of times a week and text each other daily. It is safe to assume the main topic is football.
Michael Bracken, the 49ers’ director of video operations, set up Mike Shanahan so he can remotely watch every meeting, every drill, every practice. He does not have an office in Santa Clara because he does not need one.
“It blew his mind,” Kyle Shanahan said. “He thought he was going to have to fly out here or get Beta tapes sent to him or whatever, but Mike Bracken, our video guy, is on top of everything.
“Usually about a half-hour after we’re done, my dad has an iPad and he can watch it, too.”
Mike Shanahan, 67, has not coached since a four-year stint with Washington ended in 2013. Kyle was his offensive coordinator. Mike has no official role with the 49ers, other than being a keen observer of his son’s team.
“It’s kind of neat for me to have it where when he watches something or sees something, he tells me, ‘Hey, you guys should’ve done this or that.’” Kyle Shanahan said.
“I look into it what he says. And it’s nice to have another set of eyes. Where, ‘Hey, I missed that.’ I’ll go back and check that. Sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don’t.”