NFL coaching is all about who you know.

To that end, there’s no one that Kyle Shanahan probably knows better than his dad, Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning former head coach of the Broncos and the architect of one of the most prominent offensive schemes in the NFL today.

While much attention is paid to Bill Belichick and Andy Reid’s trees — the successes of each are polar opposites — there’s probably no tree that’s borne more successful fruit than the Mike Shanahan tree. On Sunday night, two of Shanahan’s prodigies face off against each other once again, with son Kyle’s 49ers facing off against Matt LaFleur and the Packers.

While Shanahan has been retired since 2013, his influence is still felt across the NFL — and his fingerprints are still all over offensive playbooks.

Kyle Shanahan

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Head coaching record: 31-35

Mike’s son Kyle has had quite the successful run as 49ers head coach, even with some rough records and a constant shuffling of the QB position since he walked in the building.

Interestingly enough, Shanahan has a single winning season as 49ers head coach (13-3) but a lot of that record can be attributed to injuries and roster shuffling when 

With Shanahan finding his passer of the future in Trey Lance, there’s a good chance the scheme will evolve once again once Lance takes the reins of the offense in the near future.

Matt LaFleur

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Head coaching record: 27-7

When the Packers hired LaFleur after just two seasons as an OC (with the Rams and Titans), some eyebrows were raised: Here’s a 39-year-old first-time head coach being given charge of one the NFL’s all-time great passers. 

LaFleur, with boneheaded coaching decisions in the aside, has made it to back-to-back NFC Championship games with identitcal 13-3 records. He’s also gotten an MVP season with Rodgers, so he must be doing something right in Green Bay.

LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan worked alongside each other for every year but one between 2008 and 2016 — so you could say they came up together.

Gary Kubiak

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Head coaching record: 82-75 (61-64 with Texans, 21-11 with Broncos)

Kubiak is arguably the most successful of any of Shanahan’s disciples, and alongside Shanahan, helped create the system that so many coaches in the league still use today.

As an OC, Kubiak helped guide the Broncos offense to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998, staying with the Broncos until he was hired as Texans head coach in 2006. Kubiak would stick with Houston until he was fired in 2013, surfacing with the Ravens in 2014 as OC before returning to Denver in 2015 as its head coach. 

His return to the Mile High City was a bit of a a success, too: As head coach, the Broncos won Super Bowl 50 — albeit with an all-time defense and not its offense — and a broken-down Peyton Manning. Still, Kubiak deserves credit for being one of the most successful coaches to spin out from the Shanahan line.

Sean McVay

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Head coaching record: 45-21

Every NFL team wants to find the “next McVay” — but maybe they should be looking for the next fruit to fall off the Shanahan tree, instead.

While there’s something of shared custody of McVay ownership considering the Rams coach got his career started with the Buccaneers and Jon Gruden in 2008, the wunderkind has also served underneath Shanahan with Washington before Jay Gruden would promote him to OC in 2014. 

Combining Gruden and Shanahan minds makes for a very appealing head coaching prospect, and so far, it’s worked out just fine for the Rams: McVay doesn’t have a losing season yet as head coach, and likely won’t any time soon with his new pairing with quarterback Matthew Stafford.


— Former Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn got his start with Mike Shanahan in 2000, operating as the Broncos special teams assistant. He also played under Shanahan for three seasons.

— Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski spent time alongside Kubiak with the Vikings in 2019.

— Current Falcons head coach Arthur Smith would replace Matt LaFleur as Titans offensive coordinator using the same principles left behind by the Shanahan understudy. 

— Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, brother of Matt, was part of San Francisco’s coaching staff underneath Kyle Shanahan. 

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