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Silver: 49ers calling Packers about Aaron Rodgers caused drama between Shanahan, LaFleur, other coaches

Sep 23, 2021 at 8:48 AM

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This week, a reporter asked Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur about his relationship with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Did an April call from the Niners to inquire about star quarterback Aaron Rodgers created a rift between the two?

"Kyle's a great friend of mine," LaFleur said via Bill Huber of SI. "Absolutely, I hold no ill will toward him."

Shanahan has repeatedly explained that he was just doing due diligence on behalf of his team after reports surfaced about friction between Rodgers and the Packers. The 49ers coach never expected the conversation to get very far, and it never did.

"It didn't seem like it was worth the call, but I know how we would have felt if it was going to happen and that we didn't call," Shanahan explained on Wednesday. "You call them, and you get a quick answer [of 'no'], which is what you were expecting, then you move on."

End of story, right?

Today, Michael Silver of NFL Network posted a series of tweets that shares the story of some awkwardness that might have spawned from the situation. The combined content of tweets is below.

THREAD 1) On Wednesday, Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he holds no ill will toward 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, his longtime colleague & friend, in the wake of the Niners' offseason pursuit of Aaron Rodgers. Shanahan also downplayed any tension. The two teams play Sunday night...

2) But the Rodgers situation caused a lot of drama between LaFleur, Shanahan and their mutual friends and coaching colleagues last spring, and one story in particular--which took place on the first night of the draft--underscores that strain...

3) Minutes before the start of the 2021 draft, 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel was having a FaceTime conversation in his office with two former SF assistants: Jets HC Robert Saleh & Jets OC Mike LaFleur (Matt's younger brother), who were together in Florham Park, NJ...

4) McDaniel's office door was open, and some other Niners coaches walked into the room. Playful banter was exchanged by both sides. Then Shanahan entered McDaniel's office and joined the conversation.

5) A couple of hours earlier, the NFL world had been rocked by reports of Aaron Rodgers' desire to leave Green Bay--and a report that the 49ers had called the Packers (Shanahan, to LaFleur) to inquire about a trade. Now the Niners were getting ready to pick a QB third overall...

6) The Jets, with the No. 2 pick, were expected to take BYU QB Zach Wilson. Shanahan joked to Saleh and (Mike) LaFleur: "I hope you guys don't take a different QB and cross us up. We haven't looked hard enough at Wilson."...

7) "What do you mean? You've already got your quarterback," Mike LaFleur replied to Shanahan. "Aaron Rodgers." Shanahan tried to brush it off as a joke, saying, "Hey, tell your brother to call me back. He hasn't returned my calls." LaFleur's response: "Can you blame him?"...

8) At that point, according to several people familiar with the call, Shanahan got visibly upset and hastily left the room. In his eyes, he had merely done due diligence on behalf of his franchise. But it was clear to all that Matt LaFleur viewed it differently...

9) The fact that Rodgers and Niners GM John Lynch share an agent, David Dunn, contributed to the perception that there had been a coordinated effort to get Rodgers from the Packers to the Niners. And to Mike LaFleur, blood is clearly thicker than water...

10) As Sunday night's game approaches, it's heartening that Matt LaFleur and Shanahan are publicly downplaying any tension. They're both accomplished coaches and have a lot of history, & the NFL is a stressful business. And Rodgers, for now, remains property of the Packers. (END)

The Packers opted not to move their future Hall of Fame quarterback, and the 49ers continued with their initial plan to draft Trey Lance at No. 3 overall and keep Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster.

The 49ers and Packers will play each other on Sunday night at Levi's Stadium.

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