Kyle Shanahan focused on Falcons, but excited by 49ers possibility

ByVaughn McClure ESPN logo
Friday, January 20, 2017

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan addressed reports about him becoming the next head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, saying nothing is official but acknowledging a mutual interest.

Per NFL rules, Shanahan and the 49ers cannot have any contact until after the NFC Championship game Sunday. If the Falcons defeat the Green Bay Packers, Shanahan is allowed to have a second interview with the 49ers prior to Super Bowl week. If the Falcons lose Sunday, Shanahan could reach an agreement with the 49ers immediately.

ESPN's Adam Schefter previously reported that the Niners plan to offer their head coaching job to Shanahan whenever Atlanta's season ends.

Shanahan started his Thursday press conference with a statement on the matter.

"With my situation outside of this week, I'm definitely excited about that," Shanahan said about potentially joining the 49ers. "But it's not really something that I know what the situation is right now. The way the NFL makes these rules and the way it is -- this is my first time going through it -- now seeing how the rules are, I see why it is this way. It makes it pretty easy for us. You know, you're only allowed to talk to teams when you do have a bye week. I got that opportunity a couple of weeks ago.

"Regardless of what happens in this game, win or lose, you can talk to them again when your season's over or if you get another bye week. So I think I'll get that opportunity next week. But whatever happens (win or lose), I plan on doing that. But besides that, the NFL keeps it pretty simple for you because you're not really allowed to talk. You can't really go there one way or another. So I'm looking forward to having those conversations next week. But really until then, I really don't have much else for you guys. It makes it very easy to focus on the thing that's most important and that's Sunday."

Shanahan was asked if there was an understanding about an offer being on the table.

"No, there's definitely no understanding of that," Shanahan said. "I think there is some interest, obviously. ... I thought that in my interview a couple of weeks ago. Looking forward to the chance where you can speak to people again. But it's a pretty good situation to be in as far as where our team is at right now. This is the coolest moment I've had in my career, being in a game like this. I used to think that the rules weren't that cool. I love the rules because it makes it very simple for me. It's cut and dry. You don't have an option."

Shanahan realizes the topic will be discussed until something becomes official. Away from the facility, he continues to hear about it.

"Hey, there's a lot of stuff out there," he said. "My friends growing up hear all the stuff. My wife hears the stuff. Everybody wants to ask me what's going on. I don't know. I'm in my office looking at film all day and there's nothing I'm allowed to do about it. I think I'll have an idea of that after the game. I don't know what day that will be, whether it's Monday or the following week. I'm not sure. And right now, I truly don't care."

Shanahan vowed not to let first-round, bye-week initial interviews with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, and 49ers, become a distraction while preparing for last week's divisional playoff game with Seattle. Shanahan and his top-ranked scoring offense didn't miss a beat in a 36-20 win over the Seahawks.

Now with a Super Bowl berth on the line, Shanahan was asked if the latest developments have become a distraction.

"It was like five minutes before I came in here," he said. "I had to think about what I was going to say to you guys. But it's not a distraction. ... You don't have an option. There's nothing to be distracted about. You can put that aside, totally focus on right here and right now. That's not tough to do. This is an opportunity that I personally, as a coach, have been ... I've wanted to win a playoff game my entire career and got to do that last week. Right now that we have a chance to play for a Super Bowl is pretty much what's consuming my mind. It's something we're enjoying and not going to miss this opportunity."

The 49ers also are in the midst of finding a general manager, a process the 37-year-old Shanahan could become involved with next week, should he be chosen as the team's next head coach.

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