It is personal for Kyle Shanahan. It always will be.
The former Redskins offensive coordinator, who served in that position under his dad, Mike, for four years from 2010-2013, and helped Washington win an NFC East title in 2012, says he moved on long ago from the traumatic end here.
The Shanahans were fired after a miserable 3-13 season where they sniped with upper management and their young star quarterback Robert Griffin III as things fell apart on the field.
On Sunday, Kyle Shanahan returned to FedEx Field for the second time since taking over the 49ers in 2017. They lost that initial return game here in his first year with a rebuilding roster. But it was gratifying nonetheless to leave with a 9-0 win this time. According to 49ers players, he even gave the game ball to his dad.
The 49ers are 6-0 and headed toward the playoffs. The Redskins are 1-6, fired coach Jay Gruden, the man who replaced the Shanahans, and are starting over. Again. Shanahan might try to keep the personal out of it, but a small smile creased his face when asked about the irony.
“I'm always a little more sensitive to this because of what I went through with my dad here,” Kyle Shanahan said. “It’s always nice to get the win. But it definitely had nothing to do with the game, nothing to do with the score. You always want to take care of things the right way when you're bothered by some things that happened to a family member."
Shanahan tried to say all the right things during his mid-week conference call with Washington reporters. It was NOT personal. He’d been back to FedEx Field before and lost. He’d been to other places he’d coached before and played without strong emotions. He’s moved on with his life and so has the family.
But there will always be a little part of the Shanahans that will revel in beating the Redskins. Mike Shanahan doesn’t get the game ball if they’ve totally moved on. They never felt everyone was on the same page during their tenure here. The issues with drafting and developing Robert Griffin III are well told at this point.
The Shanahans certainly deserve a fair share of criticism for what happened in Washington. The overall record was 24-41, including that lone playoff loss to Seattle in 2012, and a change had to be made by owner Dan Snyder and team president Bruce Allen. Things had turned toxic by the end - even if the staff had three future NFL head coaches as assistants.
But each Shanahan has had success in other places during their careers as NFL coaches, and Kyle is riding high now with a talented young team that hasn’t lost yet. At 1-6, with yet another coach fired and more change on the horizon, the Redskins remain lost in the wilderness.
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