San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan joined the "Murph & Mac" on KNBR on Friday. Below are three key topics that he touched on during the discussion.
Tom Rathman, the former 49ers running backs coach, has moved on from the team after Shanahan brought in Bobby Turner to coach the running backs.
"That was extremely difficult," Shanahan said. "I definitely didn't want to lose Tom but I've known Bobby Turner for a long time and a lot of people have helped me get to this spot and a lot of people have been very loyal to me and Bobby's a great coach. I was with him in Washington for four years and when I went to Cleveland, he got out of the league for a year and had surgery on both his knees and I brought him back into Atlanta when I went there.
"I told him if I ever had a head coach opportunity, I was going to try to take him with me and he's known that for a while. I did too. I didn't know where that was going to be but I knew that was the plan and it just happened to be at San Francisco and it was tough to get him out of Atlanta but when I did, I stayed with that commitment and that was real tough because I have a relationship with Tom also. I know how great of a coach Tom."
Shanahan shared that when he got the job with the 49ers, one of his old friends called him to ask if he was going to take his Tom Rathman high school cleats with him. Shanahan had signed Rathman cleats hanging above his bed in high school. Shanahan has known Rathman since he was a kid and a ball boy for the 49ers.
"It wasn't as if I was trying to replace Tom," Shanahan continued. "It's just – I had a commitment to somebody else and really wanted to work it out to try and keep Tom in some capacity. I sat down with Tom and talked to him about a bunch of different ideas but Tom – he's a running back coach and that's really what he wants to do and he's passionate about it. He totally understood my situation and I think he respected how transparent we were with each other and talked through the situations.
"He thought it was better for him to look for some other places and I totally respect that too because that's probably how I would have been also. I know that's what he wants to do. I'll tell you what, though, it wasn't easy."
Shanahan confirmed that the 49ers have hired former Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh to be the team's defensive coordinator. Shanahan and Saleh met in Houston when the 49ers head coach served as a receivers coach there and Saleh was the defensive quality control coach.
Saleh worked with Gus Bradley's defense with the Seattle Seahawks and then went with him to Jacksonville when Bradley became the head coach. Saleh's experience with that system influenced Shanahan's decision to bring him aboard. Shanahan called Seattle's defense very sound, disciplined, and tough to go up against. That is what the 49ers want to create under Shanahan.
"They make you work all the way down the field," Shanahan said. "When someone makes you work all the way down the field, no matter how talented they are, you have to be on as an offense to score points because you can get to the red zone, you can get yards, but in order to get touchdowns, you have to execute. And it's a defense that makes you execute."
"Robert Saleh is as smart as anyone I've been around," Shanahan added. "He studies everything. He knows a lot of different systems but he knows the true Seattle/Atlanta/Jacksonville system inside and out as much as anybody I've been with."
Shanahan confirmed that Saleh's defense would be a 4-3.
On Wednesday, Shanahan said on 95.7 The Game that he has exchanged text messages with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The two spoke when Kaepernick called Shanahan after his introductory press conference.
On KNBR, Shanahan said that the quarterback position is too important to make an impulsive move. He, general manager John Lynch, and the rest of the staff are working hard to evaluate every possibility, including free agency, trades, their own players, and the draft.
Shanahan once again confirmed that he has communicated with Kaepernick via "text and stuff" but has not met with him face-to-face. "The players are all off right now so some guys have randomly stopped by," Shanahan said. "We have time. It is, really, their vacation time except for guys who have been rehabbing and stuff. Anybody who stops by, my office is always open and available. I don't know if Colin is in town or not but we've talked and text."
Kaepernick has been living in New York since the end of the season and working out there daily in order to return to his pre-surgery form.
You can listen to the entire 28-minute interview on KNBR.