There may need been a extra relaxed method for Steve Kerr and Kyle Shanahan to say hi there to one another for the primary time, however nearly definitely not a extra elegant or memorable one.

It was in the course of NBA Finals Game 2 at Chase Center final June. Shanahan was there with a buddy within the second row behind the Warriors’ bench. Kerr was, in fact, attempting to maneuver his crew by way of a fairly large recreation after the Warriors had misplaced Game 1 to the Celtics.

And then Kerr acknowledged the very acquainted face not far-off. And that meant it was time for a coach-to-coach salutation, regardless of the circumstances and really most likely elevated by the circumstances.

“I was in the huddle with the team during a timeout and I looked up and there he was kind of 10 feet away,” Kerr mentioned in a current telephone interview. “We made eye contact and I gave him the pinnacle nod.

“I was like, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ It was one of those strange moments. We laughed about it when we ended up on the golf course together.”

Wait, we’ll get to the following golf-course assembly a little bit later. For now, let’s simply say that the 2 extraordinarily high-profile males acted on this second exactly as we’d’ve anticipated and in a method that each appreciated — calmly, sardonically and affably.

They had been in a position to act naturally, when nearly no person else would’ve, as a result of neither is a stranger to massively pressurized moments.

“A buddy of mine got me a ticket, so I got to sit right behind their bench, which was so cool, just to watch the whole game and how they interact,” Shanahan recalled in an interview on Monday. “Then he was drawing up a play and he just looked up and he saw me. We’d never met before, so he kind of gave me a head nod and a wink. It was pretty cool.”

Kerr got here to the Warriors in May 2014. Shanahan was employed by the 49ers in February 2017. They’ve been main figures within the Bay Area and the sports activities world at-large for greater than 5 overlapping years, nevertheless it’s no shock that they hadn’t met or spoken to one another till just lately, although Kerr has at all times spent a lot of his downtime at his household residence within the San Diego space and Shanahan has just lately purchased an offseason home close to there, too.

Both jobs devour monumental quantities of time — NFL camps open in late July and the season goes by way of December and may stretch into January or early February, and that’s not counting the draft, free company or offseason household time; NBA camps now open in late-September and the season goes by way of mid-April and may stretch till mid-June and infrequently has with the Warriors, additionally not counting obligatory offseason work and actual household time.

With the Warriors clinching the title on June 16 and the 49ers beginning camp on July 26, the window for a real, unharried Shanahan-Kerr confab was principally the primary few weeks of July and no extra. But this yr, after Shanahan went to a few Warriors playoff video games, together with Game 2 of the finals, it actually was time for the 2 males to take a seat down and get to know one another past a look and a nod.

Which is strictly what occurred at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club not too way back.


Here’s one other key individual with deep, deep, deep San Diego ties: 49ers common supervisor John Lynch, who grew up within the space and nonetheless has his household home there. Lynch is also pleasant with Warriors president Bob Myers and, as each Lynch and Kerr described it, runs in the identical social circles as Kerr in Southern California.

If a Kerr-Shanahan get-together was inevitable sooner or later, it was much more inevitable that Lynch could be the one making it occur.

“For years, I’ve run into Steve. We’ve got a lot of mutual friends,” Lynch mentioned in a telephone interview final week. “So I hear a lot about Steve. Our schedules don’t match up, so I rarely see him. We’ve always said, ‘Let’s get together.’ But he’s busy, we’re busy. I talk to Bob more than I talk to Steve. I’m always talking to Steve through Bob, it feels like.”

But then Lynch bumped into Kerr doing a exercise on the seaside. And the assembly lastly was put collectively. It would occur at Rancho Santa Fe GC, the place Kerr performs. It would contain a bunch of pals and former big-league athletes who frequently tee it up there. It could be relaxed. There could be about 16 guys enjoying in three or 4 teams. Nobody could be starstruck or take up an excessive amount of of Kerr or Shanahan’s time. But everyone would even be glad to inform and take heed to tales afterward.

It all sounded excellent.

“I think we sent out four foursomes that day,” Lynch mentioned. “I performed with Mark Loretta, the previous Padre, and Rick Mirer, the previous quarterback. Kyle performed with certainly one of his good pals, and Steve was in a separate foursome.

“Then we all came in. We sat around, had some drinks and all just started telling stories with a bunch of good guys. Kirk McCaskill, the former ballplayer, he was part of it. We’re sitting around, we just had a really good afternoon, a beautiful San Diego day.”

No, that doesn’t sound too dangerous.

“Man, was it fun, just being able to sit there and talk with a guy like Steve, the athlete he was, the coach he is now, everything he’s done,” Shanahan mentioned. “We could’ve stayed there and talked sports and life for as long as they would’ve let us.”

Kerr, by the way in which, is a big NFL fan; I can vouch for this from all of the instances he’s requested me in regards to the 49ers or Rams or any hot-topic NFL situation. And Kerr is simply curious by nature. So it shouldn’t shock anybody that he had some very particular questions for Shanahan about his scheme, formations and particularly pre-snap reads and alerts.

“I was grilling him about what is happening when the quarterback comes to the line and you see him pointing out the linebackers and you can see him lifting his leg and doing all these different things,” Kerr recalled. “And I mentioned, ‘You’ve received to stroll me by way of that. Who is he speaking to? Then you see all of the linemen mentioning issues. Give me the lowdown on what’s really occurring.’

“I wanted to hear exactly what I’m looking at. I’ve been watching football forever and you see all that, but … is he audibling? Is he telling the line who they have to block? Trying to deceive the defense? What’s he doing? So that was my question. And he was great. Just his stories. Basically gave me the rundown on what’s happening and what he likes, how he likes his quarterback to do things.”

Maybe Shanahan did it too effectively?

“There was one funny interaction, (when Kerr asked), ‘OK, tell me about Peyton Manning, he’s doing all those funny movements before the ball’s snapped. What’s going on there?’” Lynch recalled. “Kyle was free and having enjoyable and received up.

“And Steve just goes, ‘John, how good would that be on TV if you just bottled that?’ I said, ‘Stop, he’s not going to TV.’”


“We could’ve stayed there and talked sports and life for as long as they would’ve let us,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan says of a golf course dialog this summer time with Warriors coach Steve Kerr. (Kirby Lee / USA Today)

Shanahan laughed once I requested him how detailed he received when Kerr was asking him all these questions. But you might inform that Shanahan appreciated the precision of the questions — and the way badly Kerr wished to grasp.

“I would get as detailed with him as he’d want,” Shanahan mentioned. “We’d want extra time to try this. But it was cool, the questions he requested, ’trigger it’s much like what I’d ask about basketball. You watch it from a coach perspective, from an individual who considerably has performed the game however by no means at a excessive stage, so that you’re into it.

“But whenever you coach sports activities, you know that you just don’t learn about different sports activities. Like, I really feel like I learn about basketball. I’ve performed it my entire life. I really like watching it. But you understand how a lot element goes into that stuff. It’s so cool to get with individuals and sort of hear it. Even although you suppose you understand stuff, you wish to hear the true half.

“When you get around that … and some of the players he’s been around, it’s just so cool to ask his opinion on some of those guys.”

Yes, Kerr was requested some particular questions, too. Not essentially by Shanahan — others within the group wished to listen to about Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Michael Jordan. Oh, and Steph Curry.

“Everyone always wants to know about Steph,” Kerr recalled. “So I just told them how crucial Steph’s humanity is. Obviously his talent. But just who he is, what a powerful presence he is on our team and how important it is for him to set that tone all the time. So we talked a lot about Steph.”

Earlier within the playoffs, Myers invited Lynch to a recreation in the course of the Western Conference finals — Lynch took his son, Jake, and Shanahan introduced his son, Carter. I bumped into all 4 courtside earlier than the sport and Shanahan advised me then that he particularly wished Carter to look at Curry’s mesmerizing pregame routine up shut.

But at that golf-club assembly, Lynch and Shanahan had been additionally enthusiastic about the massive image. After watching the Warriors meet the second up shut, they wished to understand how Kerr and his gamers remained so calm and but so ruthlessly environment friendly.

“I asked Steve about the thing the NBA does really well, and maybe it’s because there’s fewer guys on the roster, ‘As I watch, whenever your guys get the opportunity, it feels like they step up,’” Lynch remembered. “And this is in front of the whole group, and everyone’s spellbound, this is great stuff. He’s like, ‘Look, I give most of the credit to Steph. When your best player’s one of your hardest workers. And Draymond. There’s just an expectation, guys just get better.’ Then he talked about Jama (Mahlalela, the Warriors’ assistant coach who’s also in charge of the player-development program), he talked about hiring him was one of the best things they did.”

I do know Kerr, Shanahan and Lynch all fairly effectively. And I’ll simply say I didn’t have a doubt that they’d have an excellent and informative time collectively each time they discovered the time. Shanahan’s a little bit blunter in public than Kerr is, however Kerr might be blunt, too. Lynch is easy and humorous, excellent to maintain issues transferring alongside in any dialog, however he has necessary core philosophies that align properly with Kerr’s and, in fact, Shanahan’s.

They all dislike babbling and B.S. And they like speaking to profitable individuals who don’t B.S.

“You can tell how smart he is,” Shanahan mentioned of Kerr. “You can tell how he thinks about everything. Not just sports but relationships. He’s so interested in what we do and things like that. Our situations. You can just tell he’s a very well-rounded guy. It’s pretty obvious why he’s been successful in everything he’s ever done.”

Said Kerr of Shanahan: “Just incredibly straightforward. He’s exactly who he presents himself to be. Loves the game, loves what he does. Just really, really impressive in not only his presence and his knowledge but his passion for coaching. That just jumps off the page.”


So what can coaches from totally different sports activities actually be taught from one another? As I used to be reporting this story, I occurred to run into Bruce Bochy, who was visiting a 49ers observe for the primary time final week.

“You can always learn from other coaches,” Bochy mentioned. “Like today. I just love the energy here. They had the music blaring and it was crisp. I think there’s a lot of value.”

Bochy recalled that he and then-Charger coach Marty Schottenheimer had a strong relationship when Bochy was the Padres supervisor and each groups performed at then-Jack Murphy Stadium.

“Marty and I would get together a lot,” Bochy mentioned. “I talked to him about some things. We traded ideas and things we do in practice. Even talking players, motivating, things like that. It was really a good resource for me with who he was and (when) I was a young manager.”

How do you inspire nice gamers? How do you attain the underside of the roster? How do you educate your scheme with out overloading the gamers? If you’re a coach, you’re enthusiastic about all of this stuff all the time. And if one other coach in one other sport is doing it in a really efficient method, in fact you may acquire by speaking to them about teaching and life normally.

“I’ve read that their system, the Shanahan system, is easy for players to learn but difficult for defenses to decipher,” Kerr mentioned. “That was actually fascinating to me. I wished to understand how you educate it that method. How does it work? Do you’ve gotten solely a handful of precise performs and a ton of formations? Or vice versa? He sort of defined the method of how he teaches the offense and the way the gamers be taught the offense.

“I do think there are a lot of parallels that I can learn from.”

Steve Kerr


“You can tell how smart he is,” Shanahan says of Kerr. “You can tell how he thinks about everything. … It’s pretty obvious why he’s been successful in everything he’s ever done.” (Kyle Terada / USA Today)

And Kerr and Shanahan each introduced up an much more fundamental basic understanding: There aren’t many different individuals in North America who can perceive the rewards and stress of teaching well-known groups vying for championships by way of a half-decade or extra.

“You always want to talk to guys at that level, because the pressure that they’re under, not many people can totally relate to,” Shanahan mentioned. “And not simply the stress from the surface, the followers and stuff like that. But the stress of how laborious it’s to win. And how laborious it’s to win even when you’ve gotten some nice gamers, coping with accidents, issues like that. So many issues are out of your palms.

“Everyone can say they know it, but there’s not many people who actually can feel that and you can talk to. It’s really cool when you can spend time with people who really can relate to it in that way.”

Kerr put it in much more fundamental phrases.

“Usually there’s no direct answer or solution to any problem we all have,” Kerr mentioned. “It’s simply, all of us do the identical factor solely with totally different mediums, and it’s simply fascinating to listen to how every man goes about his job in every sport.

“And I think also there’s kind of a respect and a familiarity that this is really hard and we’re all sort of a bad season or two away from being fired. We’re all trying to survive. There’s that undercurrent of that awareness in all these conversations.”

Kerr is near Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and even cohosted a podcast with him in the course of the sports activities shutdown in 2020 and visited Seahawks camp simply earlier than Kerr’s first season with the Warriors. He additionally is aware of the Rams’ Sean McVay and a number of other different prime coaches.

“I met (new Broncos coach) Nathaniel Hackett in the hallway during our Denver series and we talked for 45 minutes about just philosophy,” Kerr mentioned. “(Chargers coach) Brandon Staley as well. He called me this year. It’s fascinating. He called me when they were getting ready to play the Chiefs. He said, ‘I look at the Chiefs as I look at the Warriors. That’s how explosive they are. What do you think you can share with me in terms of, how do you prepare for an offense like that?’ It was so cool.”

I requested Shanahan: What did you decide up from experiencing these two Warriors playoff video games up shut?

“It was cool watching how relaxed they were in such intense moments,” Shanahan mentioned. “There’s a really advantageous line with that. We take care of that stuff, too. You’ve received to be so locked in as a result of you may’t hesitate in something you do. You can’t get distracted. Your thoughts can’t get lost since you miss one thing like that, ’trigger it’s so intense and each single second issues, whether or not it’s one play or one possession in basketball. So to look at everybody, to look at their bench, to look at how locked in … I didn’t know that they had 15 coaches or no matter it’s, to look at all these guys with iPads, how they impart to Kerr, how the gamers who’re so skilled with all of the video games they play and it’s consistently transferring …

“The players are constantly coaching people and talking to people, too. Which is different. Ours is a set, it’s not controlled, but there’s a chess match for five seconds and then it goes full speed and we huddle up and do it again. Theirs is constantly moving, so it’s everyone on the run.”


The 49ers-Warriors linkage is centered on Lynch’s relationship with Myers, who suggested Lynch when the 49ers had been restructuring their well being and efficiency workers. And now, after this summer time, the organizational ties are even deeper as a result of issues went so effectively on the golf course with two coaches who’re simply beginning their dialog.

“Kyle, he’s super social when you’re in the right setting,” Lynch mentioned. “But he’s received a lot soccer after which when he’s off, he’s along with his household. He’s received pals, however normally it’s with the identical individuals. So to get him out like that was a giant deal. And he actually loved himself. He actually did. These are cool guys. It was cool for him.

“I think Steve found Kyle interesting. And I think Kyle found the same. And I think they’re looking forward to spending more time. We’ve gotta make sure we make it happen. We talked about, you’ve got to come by practice. Steve, one thing I’ve noticed over the years, he’s very curious, has a lot of questions. I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re the one with all the championships. I should be asking you.’”

All sides have promised that they’ll be doing this extra typically, whether or not it’s again on the golf course in Southern California or with visits to every crew’s facility and video games. Kerr and Myers. Shanahan and Lynch. They aren’t in an identical conditions or coping with an identical issues, however there are robust commonalities right here ,they usually’re simply people who find themselves naturally on the identical wavelength.

“Definitely,” Shanahan mentioned. “And I hope we can get together more. Not just the sports and stuff, they also seem like our type of guys. I’d love to spend time with them. If they weren’t even in sports, they seem like cool people.”

(Top illustration: The Athletic; prime pictures: Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP and Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)



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