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Transcript: Kyle Shanahan Has Plenty Of Nice Things To Say About Sean McVay

In a conference call on Thursday, 49ers’ head coach Kyle Shanahan shared his thoughts on a missed interview with the Rams, and his relationship with Sean McVay

NFL: Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan – Conference Call – Sept. 19, 2017

(On what he remembers about trying to coordinate the interview for the Rams head coaching vacancy)

“I just remember having four interviews – I had to do them all between Tuesday and Thursday, I mean sorry between Friday and Saturday, the two days we got off when we were preparing for our playoff game. So I was able to spend those two days interviewing, but Sunday morning I had to get right back to game planning. We had real bad weather – they (the Rams) were my last interview and it wasn’t supposed to start until Saturday at like six o’clock at night, then they weren’t going to get in until midnight because of the weather, so they tried to move it to Sunday morning and I just couldn’t because I had to get prepared for our playoffs. So, I ended up telling them that I couldn’t do it Sunday morning and I think they ended up hiring (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) later in that week.”

(On if he was surprised that the Rams hired Sean McVay before sitting down with him)

“No I wasn’t surprised at all. Sean does a good job and they told me if I didn’t sit down they might end up having to move on and I was definitely okay with that. I think it worked out for both parties (for) the best.”

(On if there was any initial disappointment in not getting to interview with the Rams)

“Not really. To tell you the truth, I was so focused on the playoffs at that time, I enjoyed my other three interviews and when it just kept getting pushed back I kind of had moved on. If they would have waited and something would have happened, I’m sure I would have sat down with them and we would have been able to talk, but I definitely didn’t have any regret about the situation.”

(On if he and McVay ever talked about head coaching scenarios when they were younger coaches together)

“Not specifically, no. When I became the coordinator at Washington, I hired him my first year there as a quality control. I had never met him until the interview, but we had very similar backgrounds in that he was a quality control for (Former Tampa Bay Head Coach) Jon Gruden for a couple years and that’s how I started out my career in the league. So, we were both kind of brought up the same way with Jon Gruden in those first two years. As soon as I got him in on an interview, I could tell within about five minutes that he was going to be a very good coach, he was exactly what I wanted and he reminded me exactly how I was after two years with Gruden. He knew it all, he was very into his X’s and O’s part and I always enjoyed him as a person. After our second year we made him the tight end coach and we had four good years there together and I consider him a good friend.”

(On how he would describe McVay’s approach in game planning when the two were together in Washington)

“I just always knew whatever I gave Sean, he was going to do it thorough and not take any shortcuts. He was always in charge of our tight ends, but I gave him a big responsibility in the red zone and Sean would work, he doesn’t cut corners and those are the type of guys that I trust. If you’ve got guys that you know are going to work just as hard as you, they’re not going to cut any corners and they’re trying to find the best thing to help the team, then those are guys you feel confident giving responsibilities too. Sean, even at a young age he showed me that work ethic, he was smart enough obviously to do it, he was very motivated to do it and he made my job easier for that because I could trust him to get the job done.”

(On what McVay was in charge of in terms of red zone responsibilities)

“Usually, with a coaching staff – and I’m sure Sean (McVay) does it very similar in L.A. right now – but usually as a coordinator, you can’t get ahead. You’ve got to start out at the beginning of the stuff on Monday and Tuesday. So, you try and assign specific areas of expertise to certain position coaches. You give guys third downs, you give them short-yardage, you give them goal line, you give them redzone, two-minute – all these situational stuff in football. They start working on that on Monday and Tuesday while coordinators kind of have to go through everything. By the time I would get to the redzone, which would be Thursday, Sean had already been looking at it for a couple days. He was much more ahead of it on me, so he could catch me up with it for about an hour and that would give me a chance to watch it then for myself and see what he had been seeing. Then we would put it together, the plays that he suggested and what I like after I see it.”

(On if he could tell that he was a thorough coach)

“Yes, definitely. I could tell that when he was my quality control. Sean, when he was the quality control, just in terms of breaking down the film, in terms of drawing all the plays that we would have him do. Sean would grind. He’ll work at everything. He takes it very personally if he makes a mistake, so he’s going to always try not to. He puts a lot of pride in his work and those are the kind of guys that you trust to do their job.”

(On what he thinks of what McVay has done with the Rams offense compared to last year)

“Sean – he’s done a good job. They’re playing real well. It looks very similar to what we do schematically. It looks very similar to how it was in Washington when we were there and how it was with (Redskins Head Coach) Jay (Gruden). So, got a lot of familiarity with what he’s doing. I know a lot of coaches on that staff and I know he feels the same way about us. We kind of come from the same background. Our schemes have, I really feel like we have started in very similar spots. He might have a little bit more Gruden in him and I might have a little bit more older Denver Broncos and things in me when it comes to the run game and everything, but when you turn on the tape, it’s very similar. Sean’s doing a good job and I knew he would. They’ve got some good coaches there and it’s – I know they’re going to get better each week.”

(On if there are any traits that make for a good play-caller such instinct or preparation)

“Both, I mean I think they’re all…I mean you got to have a natural feel and a natural instinct, but I don’t think you can have that natural feel that natural instinct without preparation. So there’s really…you can’t be good without the other. It’s a lot of people are natural, but if you don’t work at it or grind at it just the defenses and the coaches are too good in this league. There’s too much film people work that you can’t just show up and dial up plays – people will stop them. If they know it’s coming, it’s usually not just a stop, it’s usually a sack – fumble or interception. It’s something you’ve got to keep up with. You’ve got to constantly be creative, but at the same time not too creative. Your players got to be able to execute it. I feel that the key to a good coordinator and play-caller is you have to be able to evaluate your players, you have to be able to adjust to injuries. You got to be able to find ways to give a chance for everyone to be successful despite, what your o-line is like, how your quarterback is, what style he is, whether you have a run game or pass game. There’s lots of different way to be successful and you’ve got to be able to intellectually be able to understand those different type of schemes and you got to work at it. But you also can’t be a robot, you can’t just go off of percentages and let a computer call a game for you. You’ve got to go with the feel and try to think two steps ahead of whatever the defensive coordinator is doing.”

(On what made him want to bring in 49ers QB Brian Hoyer)

“Well when we got here, we didn’t have a quarterback on the roster, so you got to look into all the quarterbacks available, which we did through free agency. Then you look at the quarterbacks in the draft and you try to find guys that you think gives you the best chance to be successful with the pool you get to select from. One thing about Brian is that I thought he could run an offense. When you play good around Brian, he can make good throws. He’s done it before. He has been up and down throughout his career, but when you get him right and guys play good around him, he’s shown the ability to play at a high level. Looking at the guys that we had available, I knew Brian from the eight months I spent with him in Cleveland and we did some good things there together and it worked out to where he came here and got an opportunity also.”

(On how often he stays in touch with McVay and the dynamic of wanting to help each other as first-time head coaches, but understanding they are in the same division)

“Yeah, I mean, we understand that. It’s kind of been like that forever with us – since we’ve left Washington, so that’s part of this league. It’s a close fraternity in this league, there’s not a lot of people in it. So you get to know everyone the longer you’re in it. You can become friends with people, but everyone is very competitive, so there’s no really helping each other out. You help each other out as friends and stuff and talk to each other just ‘How’s life going?’ and, ‘How are you doing?’ But by no means are you sitting there and trying to help each other out from the schematic stand point or with each other’s teams.”