49ers coach Kyle Shanahan seemed relieved.
Relieved that the analysis of multiple options for upgrading the quarterback position had ended. Relieved that his team had a plan. Relieved that there would be no further need for a ruse.
Shanahan explained on Monday the simple reality that, given his team’s move up to No. 3, they no longer had to be coy about where they go or who they look at or what they do that could cause someone else to figure out what they’re thinking.
“I have been kind of grown up in the idea that you don’t like to go everywhere and show people things,” Shanahan told reporters on Monday. “When you’re sitting at [No.] 12, I don’t want to go to a bunch of quarterback Pro Days. . . . Now that you move up to three, you don’t have to hide as much. It’s not as big of a deal to me as it might’ve been when we were sitting at 12.”
Shanahan literally grew up in that mindset. In 2006, his father, Mike, showed Kyle and everyone else how to properly go about playing the pre-draft game.
That year, the Broncos traded from No. 15 to No. 11 (with the Rams) while the pick was on the clock. Mike Shanahan, then the head coach in Denver, took quarterback Jay Cutler.
The Broncos had done nothing to indicate any interest in Cutler. They didn’t interview him at the Scouting Combine. They didn’t go to his Pro Day. They didn’t meet with him anywhere. They didn’t call him.
“The first time I talked to him was after they picked me,” Cutler said.
At the time, Kyle was entering his third year as an NFL assistant coach, working for Mike Shanahan’s longtime lieutenant, Gary Kubiak, in Houston. Kyle’s approach to pre-draft words and deeds surely was shaped by the Cutler situation, where Mike gathered his information and made his decision without ever creating a trail of breadcrumbs that led from Denver to Vanderbilt.
Now, with 30 days to go until the draft, Kyle doesn’t have to play that game. He runs the board after Trevor Lawrence and, presumably, Zach Wilson are drafted first and second overall. Kyle can do his due diligence on Mac Jones, Justin Fields, and/or Trey Lance without worrying about someone else cracking the code on which guy Kyle covets.