HOUSTON -- Kyle Shanahan's imminent departure as the Falcons' offensive coordinator following the Super Bowl to officially accept San Francisco's head coaching job will trigger two things: 1) Shanahan's attempt to poach some assistants off the Falcons' staff; 2) The search for his replacement will begin.
As for the first ripple effect: Don't expect the Falcons to lose any assistant of significance. A source said the team will block any attempt by Shanahan to take one of Dan Quinn's high-profile assistants, such as assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Raheem Morris, running backs coach Bobby Turner and offensive line coach Chris Morgan.
It's far more likely Quinn would allow offensive assistants Mike McDaniel and Mike Lafleur to go with Shanahan, and/or possibly quarterbacks coach Matt Lafleur, who also worked under Shanahan in Houston and Washington. Matt Lafleur could be inclined to want to go because the Falcons are not likely to promote him -- or anybody -- from within the staff to replace Shanahan as the offensive play-caller.
As for Shanahan's replacement, there was a report by Fox Sports last week that the Falcons would consider former Philadelphia, San Francisco and Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. Many quickly dismissed that possibility (including yours truly). But I've since learned that Kelly has evolved into a legitimate candidate, for two reasons:
• Being fired from two NFL jobs has humbled Kelly to a degree. He now acknowledges on some level that he will have to tweak his philosophy about a sped-up offense if he intends to remain an NFL coach. The Falcons value Kelly's offensive mind but they obviously have no intention of subjecting Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and their primary weapons to a system where the offense is constantly running a form of a two-minute offense. The ripple effect to the defense also would be damaging, and it's worth noting here that Quinn, above all else, is a defensive coach.
• The Falcons' offensive coordinator's job is an attractive one. But there aren't many prime candidates available on the market. Two of the more attractive options were former San Diego coach Mike McCoy, who became the offensive coordinator in Denver two weeks ago, and former San Francisco and Buffalo OC Greg Roman, who just took a job in Baltimore. So Kelly becomes a more viable option.
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