Kyle Shanahan has another chance to end his tortured Super Bowl past

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, right, speaks with general manager John Lynch during a practice ahead of the Super Bowl 58 NFL football game Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, right, speaks with general manager John Lynch during a practice ahead of the Super Bowl 58 NFL football game Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan has a tortured history in association with losing in Super Bowl games, dating to his childhood.

Shanahan had to watch as his father, Mike, dealt with three Super Bowl thrashings as an assistant coach before his team broke through with a back-to-back wins over the Packers and Falcons in Super Bowls 32 and 33.

Kyle Shanahan has made it to two Super Bowls, one as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, and one as San Francisco’s head coach. His play-calling was a major part of the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl 51 and also in Super Bowl 54, when his 49ers blew a 10-point lead the final eight minutes.

He’ll have a chance for redemption when the 49ers face the Chiefs at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in Super Bowl 58 at Allegiant Stadium.

“I remember I always seen my dad as a coordinator and stuff after those three Super Bowls when he was in Denver,” Shanahan said. “I was younger and (saw) how hard it was on him. So, I think any time you get that close and you lose it in the last one, that’s definitely the hardest.”

Just making it through the season and playoffs only to have football disaster strike is unnerving.

“But it’s — you also — all football games are hard to lose each week,” Shanahan said. “You put so much into them. And that’s why the more you coach — the more you realize, like, when you win, you’re just kind of relieved. So, you can get right to the next Monday and get ready.”

But in the playoffs and making it to the Super Bowl is different.

“Everything’s trying to get to that last weekend,” Shanahan said. “We did get to this last weekend. ... Friday will be our last practice, and Sunday will be our last game. You’re always hoping you’re the team that wins that last game. And that’s our goal.”

Shanahan doesn’t stack the Super Bowl pain into categories. It’s all the same distressing conclusion, even though the Falcons’ collapse Feb. 5, 2017 in NRG Stadium in Houston was monumental.

“It’s just right there with the other Super Bowl (with the 49ers),” Shanahan said. “I’ve been able to coach in two Super Bowls, and (we didn’t win) either one of them. Both of them were heartbreaking.”

Falcons owner Arthur Blank would not pick a Super Bowl winner because he fond of both of the organizations.

“I have a special an affinity for Kyle,” Blank said. “We went through Super Bowl 51 together.”

Shanahan still referred to levels of pain when discussing the Super Bowl 54 loss to the Chiefs.

“In terms of pain, I’ve broken my arm, my collarbone a lot of things,” Shanahan said. “So, those are more painful. Those things last a while, but it’s all about getting back there again. That’s what I’m excited for.”

Shanahan is hopeful that recently hired Falcons coach Raheem Morris, who was the wide receivers coach on the Falcons’ Super Bowl team, can rectify that horrible loss in the future.

“Raheem, to me, is one of the best coaches that I’ve ever been around, especially as a defensive coach,” Shanahan said. “It’s unbelievable what he did for me the year ‘16 on offense. Raheem is a stud. (The Falcons) are in good hands.”

Shanahan was watching and listening to his father as kid, thinking he wanted to play in the NFL. But when his days as a wide receiver were over at Duke and Texas, he decided to venture into coaching. He finished with 14 career catches for the Longhorns.

He started as a graduate assistant at UCLA in 2003 and began his NFL journey with Tampa Bay as a offensive quality-control assistant in 2004.

“I was with Kyle for one year in 2004 in Tampa,” 49ers quarterback coach Brian Griese said. “I knew then that Kyle was going to be a great coach. Obviously, there are a lot of similarities between him and his dad and there are a lot of differences. But there is no question that he’s at the top of his game across the league.”

The elder Shanahan was an inspiration.

“Being a coach, a son, I’m very fortunate to just be around it so much, especially at the NFL level,” Shanahan said. “You know, my dad went to the NFL when I was 4 years old. So, just being around it almost my whole life. You don’t realize how much it helps you until you get in it and you just realize that a lot of the stuff you’ve been around, and it makes it a little easier.”

Shanahan said that his father is the best coach that he’s been around.

“I think that was a huge advantage for me,” he said. “I mean, he never was really training me to be a coach. He was just being my dad.”

Shanahan believes he has some of his father’s people skills.

“Just how direct he was with people,” he said “How honest he was with people. How hard he worked. Maybe you didn’t always like what he had to say, but he was going to tell you the truth. Just as a son and as someone you work with, that’s me. That’s all you can ask from people.”

Shanahan has used that style to motivate his players.

“In 2019, Kyle called me out in front of the team after the Tampa Bay game,” 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel said. “He was like, Deebo, you can’t be doing this. You’re looking around and everybody is looking at you. I was like, ‘Oh, I have to tighten up.’”

Shanahan is not one to compromise much. Shanahan and former Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan fought tooth-and-nail over how to run the bootlegs. Ryan never wanted to turn his back to the defense. Shanahan insisted. They eventually worked things out as Ryan went on to win the league MVP after the 2016 season.

Samuel had to learn how to do things Shanahan’s way, too.

“I think when I first got here (in 2019), the verbiage and all of the motions and formations that we have, I was like (brother), no way am I about to learn this stuff,” Samuel said. “But the more reps that you get, the more you do, it starts to slow down for you. It has slowed down a lot.”

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, who played for the elder Shanahan in Denver, have revived the 49ers, who have gone to four of the past five NFC title games.

There are a lot of connections, there tends to be that in football,” Lynch said. “It is fun. It’s something that bonds us really tight. It’s a good group of people.”

Shanahan knows he’ll have to be on top of things when facing Andy Reid and the Chiefs, who are seeking to defend their Super Bowl title.

“Andy, is as good as there is, especially him running the offense,” Shanahan said. “(Steve) Spags (Spagnuolo) on the defense as good as there is. They’ve both been doing it for a long time.

“We’ve all gone against each other a number of times. So, I think the schematics can get a little overrated. We all have real sound systemsm and we all have real good players. So, we’ll see how it unfolds.”

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