Kansas City coach Andy Reid and San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan arrived here carrying some pretty hefty Super Bowl baggage.
When Reid unpacked, he pulled out his red Chiefs Tommy Bahama shirt.
“I like dress codes as long you can wear Tommy Bahama,” Reid quipped.
Reid, who won a title with the Packers as an assistant coach in Super Bowl XXXI, failed in his previous appearance as head coach of the Eagles. Also, Reid went to five NFC title games over eight seasons in Philadelphia and reached the Super Bowl once.
He coached in the past two AFC title games and is set to make his second appearance on as a head coach on the game’s grandest stage.
“Last year, we were that close,” Reid said. “Four inches away.”
Overall, in 21 seasons as a head coach, he’s taken a team to the playoffs 14 times. He’s the seventh winningest coach in league history, but doesn’t have a Super Bowl title.
“I’ve had so many good experiences, that’s why I’m just going to enjoy this,” Reid said. “I’ve got a great team. I’m very fortunate. That’s really all I care about. I don’t care all that other stuff.”
The six coaches ahead of Reid have 29 combined titles. Don Shula (328 wins, two titles), George Halas (318 wins, six), Bill Belichick (273, six), Tom Landry (250, two), Curly Lambeau (226, six) and Paul Brown (213, seven).
The Eagles reached Super Bowl XXXIX, under Reid, but were defeated 24-21 by New England. A win over the 49ers and Reid could finally boast of having his own Vince Lombardi Trophy.
“I’ve been around great people,” Reid said about his success. “Good coaches, great owners, good people, coaches and players. It takes a whole team.”
Shanahan was the Falcons’ pass-happy offensive coordinator in Super Bowl LI when the team blew a 28-3 lead in the greatest collapse in Super Bowl history. The 40-year-old Shanahan is in his third season with the 49ers.
» MORE: Kyle Shanahan distances himself from 28-3
He left the Falcons immediately after the Super Bowl debacle and has helped to resurrect the once-proud San Francisco franchise.
“Our team accomplishing it and just getting here is a huge deal,” Shanahan said. “That’s pretty separate from me doing that with another team as a coordinator three years or four years ago, whatever it was. This is separate from that. I’m pumped that we are here.
“Just being excited to be here is only temporary. If you can win it, that will last forever.”
Reid and Shanahan both were beat by Patriots and their great quarterback Tom Brady. The Falcons and Shanahan couldn’t hold the led and loss 34-28 in overtime. Shanahan’s sketchy play-calling and clock management came up great scrutiny.
Reid and Shanahan paths to the Super Bowl LIV are a study in contrasts.
Reid broke into the NFL with the Green Bay Packers. He was named an offensive assistant on Mike Holmgren’s staff in 1992. He moved up to assistant offensive line and tight ends coach (1995) and then quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach (1997).
In 1999, Reid was hired as the Eagles head coach following Jon Gruden and Steve Marucci as former Holmgren assistants to land head coaching jobs. Mariucci landed the San Francisco job in 1997 and Gruden went the Raiders in 1998.
Gruden gave Shanahan his first job with Tampa Bay at the age of 25 and he was fast-tracked to coordinator spots in Houston, Washington, Cleveland and two seasons with Atlanta before the 49ers hired him in 2017.
Reid broke into coaching at Brigham Young under passing guru Lavell Edwards. While a graduate assistant, Holmgren was also on the Brigham Young staff.
Reid’s offenses are known for the high-volume passing attacks. Now, he has perhaps the most dynamic young quarterback in the league in Patrick Mahomes.
Reid, with Mahomes at the controls, has unleased receivers Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins, while also utilizing running back Damien Williams.
» ALSO: Mecole Hardman, 'a fast guy from Georgia'
The Chiefs will take an eight-game winning streak into Super Bowl LIV. Over that streak, which included playoffs wins over Houston and Tennessee, the Chiefs have outscored the opponents 253-124.
The Chiefs started slow against the Texans and the Texans, but rallied in both games.
To go along with the lethal offense, Reid’s defense has improved over the last half of the season. The Chiefs gave 23.9 points per game over the first 10. They gave up just 11.5 points over the final six regular-season games.
Shanahan has been a staunch proponent of the outside-zone rushing system that his father, Mike Shanahan, made popular back in the 1990s with the aid of running backs coach Bobby Turner. The beauty of younger Shanahan has been his ability to adjust the system to fit his talent.
In his second year with the Falcons, quarterback Matt Ryan won the league’s most valuable player award. Other quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III in Washington and Bobby Hoyer in Cleveland thrived under Shanahan.
In San Francisco, Jimmy Garoppolo is Shanahan’s signal-caller, but he’s leaning heavily on running backs Tevin Coleman, Raheem Mostert and Matt Brieda. Garoppolo was called on to attempt only eight passes in the NFC title game win over Green Bay.
The 49ers like to control the clock by running the ball and by implementing a controlled passing attack that features tight end George Kittle. Wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and rookie Deebo Samuel, from South Carolina, are more than capable.
The 49ers' defense is powered by a host of first-round picks that have created an electric pass rush. Also, cornerback Richard Sherman leads a strong secondary.
The 49ers finished the regular season with 48 sacks and added nine more in playoff wins over Minnesota and Green Bay.
Shanahan, who’s run-happy now, will have to relive his play-calling in Super Bowl LI. He doesn’t regret his third-down pass midway through the fourth quarter that led to a sack-fumble, which Devonta Freeman whiffed on his block pick-up. The play-calling blunder allowed the Patriots to make it a one-possession game.
He does regret his later second down-and-11 call the led to a sack and knocked the Falcons out of field goal range.
“They played a different coverage, didn't get the call I wanted so I didn't like the call," Shanahan said last week. “I was hoping we could just get rid of it, but they had a pretty good rush and got a sack.”
Three running plays, the clock would have ran down and the Patriots would have been forced to use their timeouts.
“I wish I didn't call that play on second-and-11 that led to that sack," Shanahan said.
But on “Opening Night” Shanahan would admit that there were some lessons to learn from Super Bowl LI.
“What lessons?” Shanahan said.
He was asked, again, if he learned anything from Super Bowl 51?
“Yeah, you learn stuff from every single game,” Shanahan said. “You know it’s always about what fronts and coverages that you’re going against. Schematics and things like that. “The best thing about going through that Super Bowl was seeing what the whole week was like media wise. Coming here, it hasn’t changed that much in three to four years. But I have a much better idea about how our time is allocated and things that we have to do.”
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