Kyle Shanahan reflects on 28-3 collapse, gifting of Jimmy Garoppolo from Patriots

Kyle Shanahan reflects on 28-3 collapse, gifting of Jimmy Garoppolo from Patriots

MIAMI — The most famous comeback in Super Bowl history — maybe sports history — happened in Super Bowl 51 three seasons ago.

Everyone knows the Patriots role in it. The credit for the tsunami of playmaking on both sides of the ball when all margin for error was spent is shared between dozens of players and coaches.

But when the blame is ladled out, it mostly falls on the shoulders of one man. Former Falcons offensive coordinator and current Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Shanahan wasn’t responsible for the ineptitude that led to blockheaded holding penalties, Matt Ryan’s lack of pocket awareness, or the defense’s inability to get off the field. But he was the one calling the shots when his team blew a 28-3 lead. And he was the one who, after Atlanta had reached the Patriots' 23 with four minutes left and a 28-20 lead, dialed up a first-down throw. That throw turned instead into a sack. Then came the hold. Then came an incompletion. Here came the Patriots.  

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

I asked Shanahan if Sunday is an opportunity to drive a stake through the heart of that memory.

“Not really,” he said. “I know it comes off that way from a media standpoint, the narrative. I’d like to drive a stake through that if it works out right. But that stuff, as a coach, it was harder for me early in my career.  

“The four years in Washington (as offensive coordinator from 2010 to 2013) helped me a little bit where you start to realize that you can’t worry about what everyone says, you just got to prepare and do as good as you can and not hesitate.

“Sometimes when you worry about being blamed for stuff that’s when you will hesitate and make mistakes. I go through everything. I’m always hard on myself but I try to lay it out there, lay it on the line and not try to play it safe. We’ll see what happens this week but that’s how I treated every game before that Super Bowl, that’s how I treated that Super Bowl and that’s how I’ll treat every game going forward.”

Click here to listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: 

Even though he was victimized by Bill Belichick — a longtime friend and admirer of Shanahan’s father, Mike — the Patriots head coach went out of his way to be gracious with the younger Shanahan after SB51, calling Shanahan to check in with him after the loss.

“I know him and my dad had a good relationship through the years, I remember when the Broncos beat the Patriots (in the 2005 playoffs), Bill coming into my dad’s locker room and talking to him. I got kicked out, but I remember my dad saying how cool it was, him coming over after they had lost and talk ball with him. He knew he was just a true football guy and loved talking ball any time.

"It was cool how Bill reached out to me after the Super Bowl just to talk and it was cool to spend some time with him at the Combine which I was very appreciative of (Belichick and Shanahan reportedly met “for hours” at the Combine). Any time that guy talks, everyone in the world listens. Especially someone like me who’s aspired to be a coach and tried to do things like he’s done.”

Belichick’s warmth for Shanahan didn’t stop at comforting words. When he was out of options for what to do with prized backup Jimmy Garoppolo, Belichick sent him to Shanahan and the 49ers straightaway in October of 2017. Belichick initiated the transaction with a text to Shanahan requesting the Niners coach call him. That’s when the ask — a second-round pick — was made.

This was a part of Belichick’s statement after he dealt Garoppolo.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jimmy,” he said. “I couldn't ask for him to give us any more than he's given us. The 49ers are getting a good player, and they're getting a good person, and they're getting a great teammate and they're getting a good quarterback. Jimmy is getting a good coach. His career is moving forward. He's a talented individual, was a great person to coach. I met with him weekly and, again, have a tremendous amount of respect for him. As his career moves forward we have to look to our team, both this year and beyond, and that's a consideration we have to make.”

It’s abundantly obvious that sending Garoppolo to a good football home was a priority for Belichick. And he believed Shanahan would provide that.

“Having someone like Bill say something like that is as cool a compliment as I can have so that feels great,” Shanahan said when asked to reflect on Belichick’s comments. “Hopefully that’s true. But I’m very glad he felt that way because I feel very fortunate that we were able to get Jimmy.”

Jimmy Garoppolo says it would be ‘hard’ to see Tom Brady leave Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo says it would be ‘hard’ to see Tom Brady leave Patriots

MIAMI – If Jimmy Garoppolo were to give a Patriotic answer to a question about Tom Brady on Monday night, the upshot of it would have been that he was focused on his own self at this juncture.

But Garoppolo’s not a Patriot anymore so, when asked if he was curious where his former teammate may end up, the 49ers quarterback dove right in.

“Definitely,” Garoppolo said during Super Bowl Opening Night. “I think everybody’s curious. Whenever he makes a decision and whatever he decides, I’ll be happy for him.”

Garoppolo paused then added, “But … I heard Danny (Amendola) say the other day, ‘It’ll be hard to see him in anything other than a Patriots uniform.’ So we’ll see.”

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The atmosphere Monday night was positively playful as the Chiefs and 49ers met with the media en masse at Marlins Park. The Chiefs went first from 7 to 8 p.m. The Niners had the late slot, 9 to 10 p.m.

The indignation, irritation, rage, grudging respect and flat-out fatigue the Patriots inspire among the national media and football fans in general has given way to a kinder, gentler atmosphere this week, it seems.

The coaches are relatively cuddly. The quarterbacks are fresh-faced. The perpetual plumbing for scandal that accompanies every Patriots postseason run is wholly absent. Everyone wants to have a nice time.

But Garoppolo’s presence and past means the Patriots still have a hand in this one. I asked Garoppolo if he was at all eager to blaze a trail away from being thought of as a “former Patriot.”

“Your past is always part of you,” he said. “The Patriots is where I started and really introduced me to the pro game and how different it is than college. I thank everyone over there for everything they did for me. Obviously what they did there got to this point here. Everything’s tied together but the 49er team is kind of a story of its own.”

Click here to listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: 

For Jacoby Brissett, Tom Brady’s opinion was what mattered most

For Jacoby Brissett, Tom Brady’s opinion was what mattered most

BOSTON — If Jacoby Brissett were originally drafted by any of the 31 other teams not based in New England, would his professional life have been quieter, less stressful, accompanied by fewer comparisons and “what ifs?”

No doubt.

Would his professional life have been better? Doubtful.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

The Patriot DNA Brissett possesses means the Colts starting quarterback — and Jimmy Garoppolo — will never shake the measuring stick that is Tom Brady nor the belief that their tutelage in the most evolved offensive system in the league under the best coach gave them a leg up.

When I ran into Brissett Monday at Logan Airport I asked him whether being a Patriot for 17 months was a blessing or a curse.

“It’s a mixture of both,” he said. “Everybody sees the finished product Tom (Brady) but Tom wasn’t what he is in 2018 or 2019 back in 2002. That’s what makes it fun for me and for Jimmy too. People have these expectations for you and once you don’t reach them, it’s like, ‘Awww, you suck.’

“But at the end of the day, one of the best things I learned from Tom was him saying during our struggles that, ‘I didn’t get where I am just like that (snaps fingers). I struggled. I had my ups and downs.’ ”

Brady’s got 15 years on the 27-year-old Brissett. When the team drafted Brissett in the third round of the 2016 draft, he became the latest in a long line of clipboard-holders who’ve backed Brady up since 2002.

What was their relationship like?

“Mentor, brother, friend,” said Brissett. “Tom encompasses so much because he’s the type of guy where he’s gonna cover all the bases. He’s gonna be the big brother at times, he’s gonna be the friend, he’s gonna be the mentor, he’s gonna be the coach, he’s gonna do all of these things just because of his personality.

“He was hard on us, no question,” Brissett revealed. “It was the standard people had for us because we played behind Tom but it was more so you didn’t care about that standard, you cared about what Tom thought about you.

“You cared about Tom’s standard,” said Brissett. “I’ll never forget some of the things he would say. If he saw me relaxing, he’d say, ‘You play quarterback, you can’t do that.’ For the most part, he kept us on our toes. He played those mind games with us.

“One day he’d love us up and another day he’ll be pissed and take it out on us. His expectations were way more something you were trying to uphold than what anybody else put on you. To be a part of it and to have Tom as a resource and creating so many friendships outside of Tom was invaluable.”

Brissett, like the rest of the football-watching world, has a hard time envisioning Brady not playing in New England.  

“I think it would be weird to everyone, including Tom,” he said. “That’s an interesting situation right now, but I would say whatever he wants to do and whatever he does, that will be a thought-out decision and literally the right decision for him. Tom will make whatever work, he always has.”