Kyle Shanahan Reveals he almost hired Broncos’ HC Nathaniel Hackett in 2019

Sep 22, 2022, 10:19 AM | Updated: 11:09 am
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Nathaniel Hackett of the Denver Broncos looks on during...
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Nathaniel Hackett of the Denver Broncos looks on during the fourth quarter of the game against the Houston Texans at Empower Field At Mile High on September 18, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

Sunday night’s primetime clash between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers has a few familiar faces along the NFC West storyline.

Quarterback Russell Wilson will suit up to face an old rival for the first time not as a member of the Seattle Seahawks. Additionally, cornerback K’Wuan Williams will face his old team Sunday after spending five seasons in the Bay Area secondary.

The most interesting of all familiarities though is the relationship between Kyle Shanahan and Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

Longtime acquaintances in the football world, Shanahan and Hackett were brought up in similar backgrounds, both sons of perennial collegiate and professional coaches. That’s where Shanahan first started to admire the Hackett family, working under Nathaniel’s father, Paul, in Tampa Bay. The elder Hackett was the quarterback coach for the Buccaneers from 2005 to 2007, and Shanahan was a member of his staff, working as an offensive quality control coach from 2004 to 2005.

It was there Shanahan began to learn the ropes of coaching, showing his admiration for Paul during Wednesday’s presser.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Nate starting with his dad, Paul Hackett. My second year in Tampa Bay, he was the quarterback coach and really one of the most influential guys I had there. He was unbelievable to me and taught me so much stuff and when I left, Nate came in,” Shanahan said Wednesday.

And while Kyle never got to work with Nate, that almost came to fruition in 2019.

At the time, passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur was debating whether to join his brother Matt in Green Bay. The possible opening meant a new coordinator would need to be bought in, a role Shanahan revealed was almost Nates. But the story didn’t go that way.

Mike stayed on with the 49ers for another season before jumping ship to the New York Jets, and Nate took the Packers’ job as their offensive coordinator.

Three years later, Shanahan still has much respect for his almost offensive coordinator.

“But yes, I’ve always kept in touch with him, known him through his dad but never worked together. He was the guy that we were possibly going to bring here when Mike [LaFleur] was thinking about going with his brother. So we’ve gotten close a couple of times, but got a lot of respect for him and been around a lot of similar coaches,” Shanahan stated.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Hackett has come under fire as of late for his questionable decision-making during the first two weeks of the season. Week 1’s loss to the Seahawks after running down the clock to miss a field goal attempt was the first red flag. The second came against the Houston Texans, scrapping by with a 16-9 win in Week 2.

Some have called for his head after two weeks of regular season play, but Shanahan knows it takes time to adjust to new surroundings.

“Early on, it is a little bit harder especially when you’re doing it with a bunch of new players. That takes time…He’s done this for awhile and you guys have a good coach there and a very good offensive play caller,” Shanahan said.

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