49ers HC Kyle Shanahan: ‘How the Heck Are There Only 4 Black Head Coaches?’

GETTY Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers reacts to a call during their NFL game against the Oakland Raiders at Levi's Stadium on November 1, 2018 in Santa Clara, California.

Many NFL coaches across the league have spoken about the death of Minneapolis, Minnesota man George Floyd, with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan being one of the latest.

Going on San Francisco station 95.7 “The Game,” Shanahan spoke extensively on racial issues in football and the United States, Colin Kaepernick’s protest and also showed support for players protesting ahead of the 2020 season.

Shanahan said that since the murder of George Floyd, “there hasn’t been a day that gone by where we haven’t discussed it.”

“How are there only four black head coaches out of 32? How are there only two [black] general managers?

How the heck are there only four black head coaches out of 32?” And only two GMs? The majority of our players are black, so the fact that there are that few, that’s not debatable. I don’t know if people are openly thinking they’re doing it, but that’s what the problem is. That number is not debatable. And that is an issue.

Shanahan went on to say that he tries to hire and cultivate a staff that reflects his views.

“I only speak for myself, but I try to hire people that I work with that are prepared for it. Fortunately, that has worked out well for me. We have a Muslim coordinator, a black coordinator, we have a lesbian on our staff — we have everything. It’s not just to show people we’re trying to be diverse. It’s just because I have been around these people and they’re really good at what they do and we can’t win without these people. And that’s just how it works out. I don’t know why the numbers are like that, but it’s wrong

Shanahan was hired by the 49ers in 2017 after a successful run as the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator. After two seasons of building in 2017 and 2018, Shanahan and San Francisco broke through in 2019, going 13-3 in the regular season on their way to an NFC Championship and an appearance in Super Bowl LIV.

Shanahan on Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 Protests

During the interview, Shanahan praised Kaepernick’s protests during the 2016 season, which saw the quarterback sit and kneel during the national anthem as a way to object to how people of color were being treated in the United States.

“It’s three years later, and they’re still some people not understanding what his message was,” Shanahan said of Kaepernick. “And, regardless, that’s too many people not understanding the message that everyone’s been giving for a long time. And Colin did it the strongest out of anyone, and people should respect him a ton for that and admire that.”

Shanahan was later asked if he was comfortable or supported players protesting during the 2020 season, which saw the head coach respond with a resounding yes.

“And I’m all for protest,” Shanahan said. “I’m all for change. I hope the protest cause change. Whatever we have to do to get the change, I’m for it. I know our organization is. I know Jed is. I know our players are. We always have been.”

Shanahan on Jimmy Garoppolo Ahead of 2020 Season

San Francisco’s head coach not only talked about one of the team’s former quarterbacks, but also said words about current QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

Garoppolo ostensibly arrived with Shanahan ahead of the 2017 season when the team traded a second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, in Jimmy G’s first two seasons, injury issues, including an ACL tear during the 2018 season, hampered his start.

However, in his first full season as a starter, Garoppolo rose to the occasion, throwing 3,978 yards and 27 touchdowns as he led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance. After a season with no rehab or recovery, Shanahan says Garoppolo is “fired up” for this year.

“His thoughts are a lot clearer, because he’s not worrying about an ACL and rehab.”

READ NEXT: Analysts Rank 49ers’ George Kittle No. 1 Tight End in NFL

Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, MT. Follow and reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier.


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