Why Kyle Shanahan openly talks about Falcons' Super Bowl disappointment


MIAMI, Fla. -- Kyle Shanahan has been asked a question or two, or 50, about his role in the Atlanta Falcons’ Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.

The Falcons held a 25-point second-half lead before the Patriots came charging back to win in overtime. Shanahan officially was hired the next day as the 49ers' head coach.

Shanahan’s play-calling as Falcons offensive coordinator was subject to immediate scrutiny and second-guessing. Interestingly, the Falcons' defensive breakdown did not face the same level of criticism.

And the rehash continues this week.

Shanahan has not bristled at the questions. He was asked this week why he does not try to “run from” the disappointment of Super Bowl LI.

“Because I don’t think there’s anything to run away from,” Shanahan answered. “I’m very proud of that year. I was proud of our team in Atlanta. I was proud of our players. And I thought we played a pretty darn good game.

“We were up 28-3 in the (third quarter) and we all know we did not play well in the fourth, didn’t coach well. But to sit there and run from something, I’m not going to run from that.”

Shanahan said the experience was valuable in his growth as a coach. One thing he learned is that no lead is ever safe. He said he does not like to label experiences “good” or “bad.” He said he views everything he experiences as something from which to learn.

It is why Shanahan said he nearly freaked out when 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh started to pull some of his defensive starters late in the 49ers’ 17-point victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

He said the most difficult part of the Falcons blowing the lead was how it impacted his loved ones.

“I’m very disappointed about losing a 28-3 (lead), and that was very hard on our entire team,” Shanahan said. “I understand, perception-wise, how much I had to take of that. But I think I can deal with that. It’s something I’ve been able to.

“Knowing that has made me a little bit stronger. You don’t always know what you can deal with and stuff. I think it was hard for people who love me, like my wife and my family members and stuff, because they’re very defensive about things like that.”

[RELATEDHow 49ers' Coleman is motivated by Super Bowl loss with Falcons]

Shanahan said there probably was only one play call that he would have changed during the pivotal part of the game. Instead of attempting a pass on second-and-11, which resulted in a sack, Shanahan said he wish he would have run the ball.

“I was involved in the game,” Shanahan said. “I know exactly what happened on every single play. I know I can live with that. I’d do it all over again, maybe a play or so, I’d call differently. But I’d do it all over again. I feel a lot stronger and better from it.”

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (9:30 p.m. Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.

Contact Us