NFL head coaches typically do a conference call with the opposing team's media corps ahead of that week's matchup, and before last season's Washington-San Francisco battle, Kyle Shanahan turned a sometimes bland activity into some compelling audio.
Among other things, the ex-Washington offensive coordinator told reporters it was going to be "pretty easy not to make it personal" — and then added that "the guys it'd be personal with don't play in the game."
Later on, when he was asked what he'd tell a prospective coach about taking a job with the Burgundy and Gold, he responded, "I'm probably not the person they want to call on that advice."
Would that same sort of venom be evident this time around as Shanahan gets ready to (sort of, since it'll be going down in Arizona) host Washington this Sunday? The answer to that question came Wednesday, and it was no, not really.
"I think that's pretty gone," he said. "I didn't try to go out of my way last year, I just answered questions, but I probably answered them pretty honestly."
People in pro football are some of the top grudge holders in the world, and considering that Kyle and his dad, Mike, were both fired at the conclusion of 2013 after an especially tumultuous campaign with the franchise, he'll likely always harbor resentment toward the organization.
However, that decision came down almost seven years ago, and Shanahan already got a helping of revenge in 2019 when his club shut Washington out on a rain-soaked afternoon at FedEx Field.
Plus, much of the front office — including an especially key someone — whom Shanahan was there with is no longer a part of the current operation, and he has lots of admiration for a couple of the new men in charge.
"I respect the hell out of Ron Rivera," he said. "I love Kyle Smith and the guys that I know there. Those guys are doing a great job. I can tell they're being led very well. So there are people there I do care about. Honestly, as far as that type of stuff, it really hasn’t even hit me yet. I don’t even think about that right now. There’s so much other stuff going on."
Shanahan is not only familiar with the Football Team big-picture wise; he can also relate to their present situation. Both squads enter Week 14 with matching 5-7 records, meaning there'll be two rosters quite interested in walking off the field this Sunday with the bigger number on the scoreboard.
"We've been a little bit up and down, that's why we're in a hole right now, probably very similar to Washington," Shanahan said. "That's why we're hoping we can string together some wins here to finish."
High road or not, thinking about it or not, Shanahan certainly wouldn't hate putting his old employer, which is on a hot streak right now, deeper into the hole it's nearly out of. He may have put his shovel away, but he'd surely be fine with kicking a little dirt on Washington right when they're starting to clean up.