Kyle Shanahan is one of the best offensive minds in the NFL today. He engineered the Atlanta Falcons offense that earned Matt Ryan an MVP and the Falcons a berth in the Super Bowl.
Shanahan catapulted his success into the head coaching position with the San Francisco 49ers. Since Shanahan took over the 49ers, they have been one of the better offenses in the league, and the head coach has accomplished the feat with a variety of QBs under center.
Shanahan got the 49ers to a Super Bowl with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB — let that settle in for a moment. Shanahan has yet to claim the ultimate prize: a Super Bowl title. Shanahan may have found his man in 2022’s Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, but time will tell.
How has Shanahan translated his offensive ingenuity to the gridiron, and how did he get his start as a player?
Was Kyle Shanahan Ever in the NFL?
Shanahan played receiver for Duke University for two seasons. His playing career was nothing to write home about, as his athletic prowess was essentially nil, but he always had a mind for the game.
"Kyle Shanahan keeps you simple as a DC because he moves players around so much..
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 21, 2023
Shanahan’s father, Mike, was known as one of the better offensive minds in football for over two decades. Mike found immediate success as a collegiate offensive coordinator, leading his alma mater to a Division II national title before leaping to the NFL, where his offensive mindset earned him praise across the landscape.
Kyle had one of the best offensive-minded mentors to learn from, his father. Shanahan understood the importance of a running game, developing the zone-blocking scheme in his image.
Whether it was with the Falcons or the 49ers, the running games under Shanahan have been top-notch. Shanahan has done great with fewer talents, but now he has Christian McCaffrey.
How Has Shanahan Translated His Offensive Ingenuity to the Field?
The current iteration of the 49ers’ offense may be the best yet under Shanahan. The 49ers have playmakers at every level. McCaffrey is an offensive weapon out of the backfield as a receiver as much as a runner.
George Kittle is one of the better all-around TEs in the sport. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk complement each other perfectly.
Shanahan has been searching for his ideal point man since he left Atlanta and Ryan. Matty Ice and the former Falcons offensive coordinator were cerebrally synced, but since then, Shanahan has been left wanting more.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 20, 2023
The 49ers’ failed experiment in trading up for QB Trey Lance is as much Shanahan’s fault as anyone else. Shanahan was tired of coaching a lesser talent in Jimmy Garoppolo, and the organization became desperate to add a superiorly gifted option at the position.
Luckily for the 49ers, they stumbled into Purdy with the final pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and the rest is history. Purdy is the ideal point man to get the ball out of his hands quickly and into the hands of the talented group of receiving options the 49ers and Shanahan have assembled.