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One big kickoff return and my first career victory—the win I had dreamed about for over two decades—was in jeopardy. I looked and felt like the Redskins had gut-punched me.
That’s when our offensive quality control coach came over and asked me a question I’d never forget: “Did you think your first win was going to come easy?”
Of course it’s not easy to win in the NFL. My old quality control coach would know; his own father put in so much work to bring the Denver Broncos their first two championships. I knew right then that Kyle Shanahan was something special.
More moments like that would follow. He respectfully questioned Jon Gruden’s calls on a number of occasions. I can’t name you another quality control coach who had the cojones to try that. Then, in a later game, I couldn’t tell the difference between one opponent’s Cover 2 and Cover 4 looks. Then up walked Kyle with a stack of still photos and a list of tells that would help me make better reads.
Kyle was special then, and he’s even better now. Look at the teams left standing this Championship Sunday; you’ll see four offenses commanded by guys who know what they’re doing and aren’t afraid to think outside the box. There isn’t a better hire out there for San Francisco.