Falcons’ Kyle Shanahan says dad’s Super Bowl legacy adds no pressure

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

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Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has a last name that’s famous in the NFL and part of Super Bowl lore.

But he said that doesn’t make his first trip to the NFL championship game as a coach feel any different because, well, he’s always been Mike Shanahan’s son.

“Not really at all,” Shanahan said Thursday. “My dad has been my dad my whole life. That’s all I know. That’s just been my life so it’s not a big deal to me.

“Maybe first getting into the NFL for the first time it’s kind of cool, hey, I’m trying to get into something you did. Even though he told me not to, I think when I did he was pretty flattered and proud of me for it.”

Mike Shanahan was an NFL head coach for 20 years and won the 1998 and 1999 Super Bowls with the Broncos. He also was 49ers offensive coordinator when they won the 1995 Super Bowl.

Kyle Shanahan was born in 1979, when his father was a college assistant coach. Mike Shanahan got his first NFL job in 1984 and Kyle was a teenager when Mike became 49ers offensive coordinator.

Kyle said there were “huge advantages” to having a father as an NFL coach. He was a 49ers ballboy adn described hanging out with legendary players such as Jerry Rice and John Taylor. Kyle said he used to carry around a vitamin briefcase “so they could call me ‘Little Romo’” in reference to linebacker Bill Romanowski.

“I’ve been sitting in draft meetings since high school because I always wanted to coach,” Kyle Shanahan said. “I loved watching football and loved hearing about players and wanted to be a player. I never realized it was a big deal but once I got in the NFL, some things came a little quicker you are like maybe it did help being around it my whole life.

“I feel like I’ve been very blessed doing that. It’s given my family a great life growing up, and it’s been great to give the same back to my kids.”

Kyle Shanahan was Redskins offensive coordinator on his father’s staff from 2010 to 2014. Kyle Shanahan drew sharp criticism, including charges of nepotism, as the offense sputtered and the Redskins had one winning season over that span.

But Kyle Shanahan said that experience never made him consider his family name and background to be a disadvantage in his profession.

“When you work for your dad and things don’t go well, you are going to get a lot of junk for it,” he said. “I learned that the hard way. But I think that’s life and I think that’s anybody’s situation. It’s just when you are in the NFL it’s in front of the whole public.

“I wouldn’t take my life back for anything. It’s been great. It’s given me a lot of opportunities and I’m very happy for that.”