Sean McVay Reflects on ‘Former Boss:’ Division Rival Kyle Shanahan

Sean McVay Kyle Shanahan

Getty Sean McVay shakes hands with the man who once hired him as quality control coach in Washington, Kyle Shanahan, after a Los Angeles Rams versus San Francisco 49ers game in 2019.

Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan both became head coaches at the same time in 2017, but went from former one time co-workers to NFC West rivals.

While Shanahan has the upper hand in the coaching matchup by winning the last four meetings against McVay’s Los Angeles Rams, and despite both men representing teams with fan bases known for having a disdain for one another, the San Francisco 49ers head coach still has mutual respect for the Rams’ leader, sharing that on McVay’s “Flying Coach” podcast released on Wednesday morning.

McVay’s Former Boss

McVay’s co-host Peter Schrager began the show sharing how 49er fans were asking and demanding that the two NFC West coaches be paired up on the pod. Shanahan eventually gave in. McVay then revealed the job title Shanahan had when he got into coaching.

“Former boss of mine,” McVay said first on the podcast. “He was hard on me. But you know what, I got a lot better, loved working with Kyle and he’s had a huge influence on how I see the game.”

Shanahan said McVay still looks the same from when he hired him on the WFT staff, ribbing “You’re already looking too much media to me, but you look way comfortable with your head set, your microphone. I can’t believe your hair is still perfect with that head set on. You’ve got to blow dry that.”

McVay jokingly fired back saying “It looks good. I do use, probably, too much gel. But you know what, consistency is the truest measurement of performance as we like to say. I’m consistently throwing about half of my gel in my hair and I’m going through a lot of bottles every week.”

Shanahan not only remembers the hair, but the “boy wonder” in the nation’s capitol.

Quality Control Coach McVay

Shanahan recalled a time when he worked under his father Mike Shanahan, who took control of the head coaching position in Washington in 2010. During a time they were trying to fill the coaching staff, the son received a recommendation from general manager Bruce Allen on a 24-year-old man who had just finished coaching wide receivers in the defunct United Football League with the Florida Tuskers. Shanahan remembers the way McVay entered.

“He came in, interviewed and he was boy wonder,” Shanahan said. “His hair looks the exact same. He was probably a little more jacked, but not much. He’s probably always been jacked. He was exactly boy wonder.”

But the hair wasn’t what sold the Shanahan’s. It was a football question that helped solidify McVay’s hire.

“My dad asked him a football question, I think it was a slot package,” Shanahan said. “And he (McVay) didn’t stop talking for 45 minutes. He killed it from every aspect and my dad was just jaw-dropped. My dad then said ‘We’ve got to get this guy.'”

What also helped McVay’s relationship with Shanahan was their connection to Jon Gruden, as both worked with him in Tampa Bay: Shanahan was quality control coach for the Buccaneers in 2004 and ’05. McVay joined as an offensive assistant in Gruden’s last season in 2008, his first NFL coaching season.

McVay detailed his role with his old boss, illustrating “Basically, you’re Kyle’s assistant: You’re doing all the breakdowns, you’re drawing the pictures and the cool thing about what Kyle does is that he empowers you. If you’re going to come with play suggestions and stuff like that, he’s going to make sure you got all the answers.”

McVay then pointed to the number of successful NFL coaches/assistants who started out as quality control coaches under Shanahan.

“When you look at who has been QC’s for Kyle Shanahan: Matt LaFleur, myself, Mike McDaniel and Mike LaFleur, those have been the last four quality control coaches who worked for him. You learn to see the game through a totally different lens. I’ve said this on multiple occasions, this guy sees the game different than anybody because he’s so smart and he knows all 22 (players).”

Though they’re now division rivals, plus Shanahan revealing how “frustrated” he was in not getting Matthew Stafford to the 49ers, he admits he wished he would’ve kept McVay on any future staff.

“For me, personally, the QC is a really important guy to me. I really wanted Sean to stay as my QC because he was as good as it gets,” he said.

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