Last offseason’s standoff between the Green Bay Packers and reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers grabbed headlines and fueled countless hours of TV debate shows and sports talk radio. It also created some friction between Packers head coach Matt LaFleur and his former colleague Kyle Shanahan, now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
With the two teams set to face off this Sunday, the 49ers’ brief pursuit of the future Hall of Fame quarterback resurfaced.
49ers called the Packers about an Aaron Rodgers trade
Before the 49ers traded a bevy of premium draft picks to eventually acquire North Dakota State signal-caller Trey Lance, they looked into whether the Packers might part with Rodgers, then quietly upset with his uncertain future in Green Bay.
“The exact truth is I don’t want to wake up the next day on Friday and see Aaron Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks in this league, traded without doing any due diligence on him,” Shanahan shared during an appearance on The Rich Eisen Show shortly following the 2021 NFL Draft. “I just called Matt and asked him if there’s anything to it, and Matt told me I’d be wasting my time if we had (49ers general manager John) Lynch call.”
Ultimately, the Packers didn’t entertain any inquiries about Rodgers, who will play at least one more season with the team before the two sides revisit his contract next offseason.
Matt LaFleur-Kyle Shanahan’s shared history
LaFleur and Shanahan have ties that extend back more than a decade.
When LaFleur broke into the NFL as a low-level assistant for the Houston Texans in 2008, Shanahan served as the team’s offensive coordinator. Shanahan left in 2010 to join his father, Mike Shanahan, in Washington and brought LaFleur with him. The two worked together on that staff until the team fired the elder Shanahan following the 2013 season.
At that time, LaFleur returned to the college ranks, spending the 2014 season as the quarterbacks coach for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Meanwhile, Kyle Shanahan joined the Cleveland Browns as an offensive coordinator.
But the separation proved short-lived. Shanahan orchestrated his departure from the Browns to take over as offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015 and again looked to LaFleur to fill out his staff. LaFleur coached the Falcons quarterbacks for the next two seasons, helping guide Matt Ryan to an MVP season in 2016. Shanahan then left to take over the 49ers while LaFleur joined Sean McVay, another colleague from Washington, with the Los Angeles Rams.
Matt LaFleur downplayed the tension
Regardless of whether the 49ers’ pursuit of Rodgers irked LaFleur in the moment, the Packers’ head coach expressed positivity about the relationship with his former colleague.
“Kyle’s a great friend of mine,” LaFleur said during his Wednesday press conference. “I haven’t talked to him in a while. It’s just part of the business. You start kind of getting into your own routine. But yeah, absolutely, I hold no ill will toward him. That will have no effect on our relationship.”
The Packers and 49ers kick off Sunday night at 8:20 p.m. ET.