The San Francisco 49ers have been working hard behind the scenes to ease any lingering concerns Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan may have about the organization, likely paving the way for Shanahan to accept the Niners' head coaching offer in the next two weeks.
While it's not 100 percent certain Shanahan will say yes, owner Arthur Blank became aware of San Francisco's level of interest last week when he spoke to 49ers owner Jed York at NFL owners meetings.
"I know (Shanahan) has been interviewed and I know he has interest," Blank said. "I saw Jed York at an owner’s meeting and we chatted a little bit about his candidate pool. I spoke highly of Kyle. We'll see what happens."
For a full column on Arthur Blank and why he almost got a Mohawk haircut -- seriously -- click here.
Blank said losing Shanahan, who with quarterback Matt Ryan has orchestrated the NFL's highest scoring offense this season, would be a significant loss, but he didn't appear overly concerned in terms of the future impact on the team.
"That’s what happens in the league," he said. "It’s the same for any organization. You go back to my days at the Home Depot. You’re going to lose some very talented people. The advantage we had at HD is we would open up 200 stores a year so we always had places to put another version of another head coach. But in the NFL you’re only allowed one team per owner. So when you have coordinators who get to that level and prove themselves, you prepare for that. That’s one of the prices that comes with success.
"The great coaches in the league, whether it’s Bill Belichick or Mike Tomlin or Andy Reid or Bill Parcells, they’ve groomed coaches but they found ways to bring up other people behind. If Kyle does go on to San Francisco, we certainly wish him well. He deserves an opportunity and I’m sure Dan (Quinn) is thinking if that happens, this will be my plan for that position. One of the advantages we have in this particular case is Matt has been in the system for a couple of years and he knows it real well at this point."
The 49ers are expected to offer Shanahan the job security he's seeking and allow him to play a role in the hiring of a general manager and personnel decisions. When Seattle hired Pete Carroll, it allowed him to pick among three general manager candidates.
When the Falcons hired Quinn from Seattle, he was given a significant say in personnel and control over the 53-man roster, somewhat reducing general manager Thomas Dimitroff's autonomy. But Quinn and Dimitroff now work in concert on all personnel decisions, which has been a key to the team's rise this season.
Quinn gave a long, relative no comment Wednesday when asked about Shanahan's reported candidacy in San Francisco. NFL rules prevent the 49ers from speaking to Shanahan again until after Sunday's NFC championship game and from offering him the job until after the Falcons season, which will be either after Sunday's game or the Super Bowl.
"Definitely not our story to tell," Quinn said. "They will for sure reach out to Thomas and to the organization and there will be a window for him if they’d like to visit with him for next week. But that’s really where it’s at and there’s nothing really to do until then. "
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