John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Schrager: 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan among NFL coaches who ‘walk the walk’

Jun 5, 2020 at 11:24 AM--

Sadly, some individuals will say the right thing only because it is perceived to be the right thing to do. That isn't the case for everyone, though. Many don't just say the right things, but they also put their words into action when the time comes to do so.

Peter Schrager, this week, pointed to two NFL coaches who not only talk the talk but also walk the walk when it comes to giving minorities in the league a chance to rise through the ranks. The first is Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians. The second is San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.

"[Shanahan] could hire anybody he wants," Schrager said on Good Morning Football. "Who is his defensive coordinator? Robert Saleh, a minority. Who is his special teams coach he took with him from Houston (and Washington) to San Francisco? Richard Hightower."

Schrager also pointed to Arian's staff and the coach's long history of opening up opportunities for those who otherwise might not be given a chance, including his two coordinators.

"It's one thing to just say these things. Then you look at these staffs," Schrager continued. "Both of these men walk the walk, and that's what I hope can come out of this thing.

"When all of these coaches come out and give out these statements, OK, but when you're hiring next time, do you want to hire this person's son, who you know, and you want to throw a favor to? Or do you really want to make a difference, and give an opportunity to someone who might not have the same connections in the league, but might be able to open doors and paths that others cannot.

"Richard Hightower is one of the best special teams coaches in the league. I don't know if he gets his opportunity if Kyle Shanahan doesn't say, 'No, that's my guy, and I'm putting him in that gig.'

"I find it to be fascinating that these two men are the ones that we're highlighting on the show because both of these guys walk the walk and not just talk the talk."

Shanahan spoke with reporters on Thursday for about 30 minutes, sharing his honest thoughts about racism, social injustice, and the other hurdles that the country has yet to overcome.

Shanahan also discussed the lack of diversity in the NFL, which, as Schrager points out, may not be reflected within his own staff as much as it is within some others.

"How the heck are there only four Black coaches out of 32 head coaches?" Shanahan wondered. "How are there only two GMs? I mean, we're in a predominantly -- the majority of our players are Black. So, the fact that there's that few, that's not debatable. I don't know if people are openly thinking they're doing it, which I think that people resort to that, but that's what the problem is. That number is not debatable, and that is an issue.

"I think we talk about it a lot, and it is something that has to get better. I know they've thrown out a bunch of stuff. I only speak for myself; I try to hire people that I've worked with that are prepared for it, and fortunately, that's worked out well for me. I've got a Muslim coordinator, we've got a Black coordinator. We have a lesbian on our staff.

"We have everything, and it's not just to show people that we're trying to be diverse. It's just because I've been around these people and they are really good at what they do. We can't win without these people, and that's just how it works out."

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