YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — On Sunday in Cincinnati, it’s not only a matchup of the 49ers and Bengals in week two, but also another face-off between two young coaches who have a somewhat connected history.
It’s a little like six degrees of separation with Kevin Bacon. First-year Bengals head coach Zac Taylor spent his last two seasons with the Rams as wide receivers coach in 2017 and their quarterback's coach in 2018 under Sean McVay. McVay worked with Kyle Shanahan in Washington from 2010-2013.
Taylor’s father-in-law, Mike Sherman coached for the Texans in 2006 as the assistant head coach and then as their offensive coordinator in 2007. During those years Kyle Shanahan was the wide receivers coach and quarterbacks coach.
When Sherman left to be the head coach of Texas A&M, Shanahan took over as the offensive coordinator. Taylor recalled watching Shanahan from afar.
“I used to follow Kyle when he was with the Texans,” Taylor said. “I always loved studying them and stealing a lot of things that they did. You know, it’s evolved in a lot of different ways as Kyle has gone on and I’ve been with a lot of different people it’s taken on a different deal but you still see the same concepts, you hear the same terminology.”
"I was a big fan of Gary Kubiak and my father-in-law Mike Sherman worked at the Texans together and Kyle was there. I came up under Bill Callahan and kind of John Gruden. It’s all that same West Coast system.”
Shanahan explained that the two don’t know each other, but have many similar professional contacts in common.
San Francisco 49ers
“I don’t know him very well,” Shanahan said. “We met each other, I think, last year. We’ve never worked together, but we have mutual friends and stuff, so I’ve gotten to know him that way. I’ve got a lot of respect for him, a real good dude.”
With a similar background, there is an understanding of what each might call offensively in Sunday’s matchup. Taylor explained that the similarities.
“Well, I think the foundation of the systems all stems from the same places,” Taylor said. “If you were to sign a receiver from either team, if we were to swap teams they would have a general understanding of what they are being asked to do but to the name eye it might not look that similar but to the coaching staffs it feels pretty similar.”
Shanahan spoke about what he has seen from Taylor and his offensive system, thus far.
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“In the game, they played very similar to what they did in L.A., but it’s only one game,” Shanahan said. “They attacked Seattle, so you always watch that, but they have a lot more stuff.
“Zac’s got a good system, he’s a very good coach and whatever you see on tape, you know he’s got adjustments. You always try to practice everything, but you know you’re going to see more stuff you haven’t seen.”