What qualities Shanahan looks for in future assistant coaches originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
If Kyle Shanahan has an opening on his coaching staff, he won't leave a stone unturned in search of a new assistant.
Shanahan will face off against former 49ers offensive coordinator and current Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel at Levi's Stadium on Sunday. McDaniel joins former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as two former coaches under Shanahan who have received head coaching jobs, with current 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans likely to join that list soon.
Why has the Shanahan coaching tree been so successful? Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the 49ers head coach explained his process for identifying future coaching candidates.
"Usually, I like someone I've seen on the staff, like other places I've been, when I didn't get to hire staffs," Shanahan said. "You get to see people's work ethic, kind of what drives them.
"It's not just, there's two different, like man, this guy would be good with the players and man this guy could teach a player, or man this guy is extremely smart and can just soak everything in and he can type everything up, he can break everything down, he understands every blitz, every formation, he can memorize all this stuff. Who can do both of those? There're so many different variations of stuff."
Shanahan oftentimes sees potential coaches in current and former players, most of whom might be nearing the end of their playing careers.
"There's so many players that I've coached, and I can't tell you there's a number of guys that the last time I see them when I end up having to cut them, I try to tell them, 'Man, if you want to stop playing, like I really believe you're made to coach,' " Shanahan added. "You have to get in here as a QC and learn stuff, but you're extremely smart. I love how you picked our stuff up, and I love your personality, and if you're passionate about this and if you have a wife, she understands what you're getting into, why don't you come do this?'
"And then they usually snap at me and say, 'You don't think I could play anymore?' But then like three years later, they usually check up, but there's stuff like that you see so many things. There're so many different qualities on how to build a staff."
Replacing assistant coaches is a lot easier than replacing offensive or defensive coordinators, who require years of grooming before they are given the keys to one-third of the roster.
"Coordinators are just a little bit different because they can't be in too big of a hurry, either," Shanahan explained. "There's so many processes that if you skip a step, you can see it in guys, in my opinion, later in their careers. So, I like guys who can do it the normal way where, they're just breaking down stuff and listening to everybody and soaking stuff in, and guys who also don't mind the pressure on them, and we're not always going to be nice.
"We try to be, but there's going to be a lot of pressure. You're not going to get many pats on the back, and you just have to grind and hope it works out for you one day."
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Having already lost Saleh and McDaniel, Shanahan and the 49ers likely will lose Ryans sooner rather than later, who has skyrocketed to one of the league's best defensive coordinators and even started garnering head coaching interest after the 2021 season.
Whichever coach replaces Ryans, should he leave, can expect a very thorough vetting process.