After several seasons of canned responses, paranoia, misdirection and leaks from the 49ers front office, San Francisco 49ers new head coach Kyle Shanahan was a breath of fresh air in his introductory press conference. While his first press conference may have little impact on the building of a team and the product on the field, Kyle’s confident, yet friendly and direct demeanor and willingness to take ownership is a great start that can only help his and the team’s success moving forward.
Almost a year ago, Chip Kelly was introduced in his first press conference as 49ers head coach and his demeanor and answers to questions did little to dispel the rumors that he has a preference to keep his cards close to the vest and keep the media at a distance. At that press conference, Kelly came off as if all he cared about was coaching and never cared about control of personnel and this seemed to be insincere and inaccurate. The facts are that Chip Kelly wrestled control of personnel in a struggle with Howie Roseman and, in fact, balked at relinquishing said control when asked by Jeffrey Lurie.
Contrast Kelly’s superficial, runaround answers to Kyle Shanahan’s when asked about his role in the Atlanta Falcon’s Super Bowl loss. While Kyle said he might have used the words that he “blew it”, he was fully convicted in taking ownership for the loss and learning from it. He also stressed a culture of not pointing fingers and being able to handle adversity and discomfort together.
Kyle’s willingness to take ownership, whether justified or not, is a strong, positive characteristic of a leader or head coach and it will be conducive to gaining the respect of his players, colleagues, community and building team cohesiveness.
Again, we won’t read too much into Kyle’s first press conference but first impressions can be meaningful. Based on Shanahan’s first impressions as head coach, the 49ers have hired someone who takes ownership and seems believable, likable and comfortable speaking with media, and this is something that fans can be hopeful about.