Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Kyle Shanahan recalls the panic of losing his backpack before Super Bowl LI

Jan 20, 2020 at 4:01 PM--

You've probably heard the story before. San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, then the offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons, lost his backpack before Super Bowl LI and went on a frantic search for it.

The Falcons were preparing to play the New England Patriots.

It was a scary moment for Shanahan. It turns out, longtime sports columnist, Art Spander, picked up the backpack. No, he was not a spy hired by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. At least, that is what he has always claimed. It was a simple accident. The two backpacks looked similar, but the contents were very different.

Inside Spander's backpack was his laptop. Inside Shanahan's backpack was his Super Bowl LI game plan.

Shanahan eventually got his backpack returned to him. Spander asked the coach on Sunday, after the 49ers beat the Green Back Packers in the NFC Championship Game, if he would bring his backpack to Miami for Super Bowl LIV.

"I will, but I'll lock it to my arm if you're around," Shanahan (maybe) jokingly responded. "I know what you do."

Shanahan spoke with reporters on Monday and was once again asked about that moment of panic three years ago.

"I had almost a panic attack," Shanahan said. "All you guys were huddled around me and distracted me, setting me up while he could take it. No, it was right between my legs. I was sitting on the top part of a chair, and it was between my legs. Then when I was done talking to everybody, it wasn't there anymore. There was a backpack there, but it wasn't mine. So he took mine and left his.

"But I was panicked, not because of the game plan or anything. That's on an iPad, and you need codes to get in and stuff, and we have others, so that's not a big deal. But I had about 48 Super Bowl tickets in there that I had bought for family members and everything, and I was carrying a lot of money from that, a lot of IOUs and stuff, so I was very panicked about the tickets and the cash."

Shanahan added: "It was gone for about an hour-and-a-half. The whole team left me; the Patriots came in. I was walking around there looking for my backpack frantically, running into more media people, and still having to do interviews past my deal. I was trying not to come off as a jerk blowing them off, but I was panicked trying to find my backpack. So, it was awkward, but Art ended up coming back with it.

"I think we found it because the backpack remaining, I eventually opened it and saw his name in there. So people tracked him down, and he had it. They tried to take it off of him, and he wouldn't give it to me, at first, until I showed him it was mine."

Shanahan said he has since forgiven Spander.

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