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Sean McVay reveals how close he was to being hired by 49ers in 2017

Rams head coach Sean McVay says he might have won the 49ers job over Kyle Shanahan, Josh McDaniels

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers told Sean McVay following his interview with the team in 2017 that they were either going to hire him, Kyle Shanahan, or Josh McDaniels to be their next head coach, according to McVay during his appearance on The Pivot podcast this week. McVay said that his interview with the 49ers went so well because he was riding high with confidence after nailing his talk with L.A. Rams owner Stan Kroenke, general manager Les Snead, and COO Kevin Demoff and that San Francisco owner Jed York told him he was one of three finalists.

“Jed York told me I’m either hiring you, Kyle Shanahan, or Josh McDaniels. He’s like “Wow, this is really impressive.” That went well and the Rams ended up hearing how well that (interview with the 49ers) had gone. Well, Kyle was still playing (the Falcons were in the playoffs and he couldn’t be hired until they were eliminated) so they couldn’t meet with him again...I don’t know if they had connected with Josh or not. The very next day, the Rams flew me back to go have dinner and then I never left L.A.”

McVay’s hiring was announced on January 12, 2017, three days after his meeting with the 49ers was reported. Had the L.A. Rams not felt a sense of urgency following McVay’s meeting with San Francisco at the Four Seasons in New York, the 49ers could have hired him instead and changed the course of the league, the NFC West, and the Super Bowl over the past six seasons.

Josh McDaniels pulled out of the running on January 16, announcing that he would stay another year as the New England Patriots offensive coordinator. A report at the time said that the job was McDaniels to have, if he wanted it. That only left Shanahan and then-Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable as the only two available candidates who had interviewed with the 49ers that month. The Falcons reached the Super Bowl to face McDaniels’ Patriots, blowing a 28-3 lead but not blowing Shanahan’s interview with San Francisco, apparently.

If history were slightly re-written, maybe Shanahan would have been available and perhaps San Francisco offers McVay the job on the spot, putting pressure on him to decide between the Rams and the 49ers organization that his grandfather won five Super Bowls with.

In an interview with The Pivot that went over an hour, McVay also made it clear that though he seriously contemplated retirement after the 2022 season that he is no longer thinking in that direction. McVay noted that he is very interested in being a part of the media one day but that it is not in the “near future” anymore. The Rams head coach sounded aware of the fact that nobody knows what’s going to happen this season with so many uncertainties on the roster and that “there’s more competition on our team than there’s ever been since the first year in 2017.”

So even if L.A. does have another underwhelming season, McVay sounds ready to be a part of a “reset” that takes multiple years and that he won’t question his commitment to being a football coach any time soon. On the struggles of 2022, McVay said “I wasn’t the best version of myself,” but that he learned more from going 5-12 than he did from winning the Super Bowl.

As Rams head coach, McVay has seen just about everything through six years. If he had been the 49ers head coach, who knows what L.A. would have been through instead.