How Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay went from Washington staff to NFC Championship opponents

The student becomes the master.

When the 49ers and Rams face this season, it will be a battle between known enemies. Not so much the teams as it is the head coaches.

Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are two of the NFL’s talented, young, successful coaches: McVay is on the verge of his second Super Bowl appearance in four seasons, while the 49ers are battling for the second NFC championship since 2019.

MORE: Mike Shanahan Coach Tree – Son Kyle, Matt LaFleur Part of Successful Tree

These Washington teams gave birth to three current NFL head coaches – and potentially more – including the two facing again, coming this Sunday with a Super Bowl spot on the line.

“We’re all young, we’re all competitive, and we’re all a little dicks,” Shanahan said in 2021.

Here’s how theā€¦ not cute guys became head coaches:

Are Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay friends?

Yes they are. Together with Matt LaFleur, Shanahan and McVay made their bones on Washington’s offensive staff in the early 2010s, which would give birth to three future head coaches.

McVay was originally hired by Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike, who had been head coach in Washington at the time. McVay worked as the team’s quality control coach before being promoted to tight-ends coach in 2011.

While in QC, he built a partnership with Kyle, who praised McVay’s work ethic and skill while in that role.

While the two are rivals on the field – and sometimes off it (Matthew Stafford) – they maintain a close friendship.

Shanahan-McVay timeline

2008: With Tampa Bay, Sean McVay gets his first NFL job under Jon Gruden. Bruce Allen, who would later join Washington in a front office role, was in his final year with the organization.

2010: After a year away from the NFL, Mike Shanahan returns to the league as Washington’s head coach. As he puts his staff together, he chooses his son Kyle as the team’s offensive coordinator who has been training in the NFL since 2004.

2010: At the instigation of Allen, McVay gets an interview to join Washington’s staff. He gets a job as an offensive quality control coach working under Kyle. The team also includes future Packers head coach Matt LaFleur as the team’s QB coach.

“He (McVay) came in and did an interview like Boy Wonder,” Shanahan said in 2021. “His hair looked exactly the same – exactly the same. He was probably a little more jacked, but not much. He’s always been jacked .

2011: Tight ends coach Jon Embree is set to become Colorado’s new head coach. In return, McVay gets a promotion to the same position and replaces Embree. (Embree would later join Shanahan in San Francisco as a tight-ends coach and assistant head coach.)

2013: After four seasons and declining returns, Mike and Kyle Shanahan will be fired after 2013.

2014: McVay has been retained by new head coach Jay Gruden and has been elevated to offensive coordinator. McVay worked under Jon Gruden in 2008.

2014: Shanahan lands in Cleveland, but retires later in the season after disagreements with head coach Mike Pettine.

2015: Shanahan reappears and takes the offensive coordinator position at the Falcons. Under him is quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, who will be there for two seasons with Shanahan.

2017: Both Shanahan and McVay get head coach jobs: Shanahan ends up in San Francisco as 49ers boss, while McVay signs papers to be Rams boss. McVay becomes the youngest coach in modern NFL history. LaFleur also joins McVay’s staff, who would later become Packers’ head coach.

2021: Shanahan and McVay are both hot after Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Rams come out on top, much to Shanahan’s chagrin.

2022: The Rams and 49ers meet in the playoffs for the first time since 1989.

Shanahan-McVay head-to-head record

While Kyle Shanahan has a worse overall record than McVay, Shanahan has gotten better over his undergraduate degree since they both took their respective jobs in 2017.

McVay Shanahan
2017 Head coach since 2017
55-26 Overall record 39-42
Three NFC West titles One
One NFC Championships One
3-7 Head-to-head record 7-3

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