Chiefs versus 49ers in Super Bowl LIV: A tale of two coaches
Super Bowl LIV was a contest between two powerful teams: the Kansas City Chiefs and superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes versus the San Francisco 49ers with their devastating defense, led by Rookie of the Year defensive end Nick Bosa. However, the contrast between the respective head coaches is also striking and, for many fans, seeing Andy Reid, the veteran and highly regarded head coach of the Chiefs, win his first Super Bowl was very gratifying. Here is a history of these two successful head coaches.
As chronicled in a Pro-football History biography, Andy Reid has been coaching professional football for 28 years, and despite consistent success, he has never won a Super Bowl. Reid began his football career as a lineman and kicker at Glendale Community College. After one season, he transferred to Brigham Young University where he played offensive tackle. After graduating in 1981, Reid stayed on at Brigham Young University as a graduate assistant where he met is future mentor, Mike Holmgren, who was hired to serve as the quarterback coach.
From this start, Reid kept progressing and gaining experience in coaching at San Francisco State, Northern Arizona, Texas-El Paso and Missouri, comprising the roles of offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and ultimately head coach. In 1991, Reid was reunited with Green Bay Packers head coach Mike Holmgren as tight end coach and assistant offensive line coach. In 1996, he became the quarterback coach for the legendary Packer quarterback Brett Favre and was part of the Superbowl XXXII team.
In 1999, Reid took over a dismal Philadelphia Eagles team as head coach. After an initial losing season, Reid rapidly built a perennially successful team, with winning records in nine of thirteen subsequent seasons and two with .500 records. Reid’s 2004 Eagles team lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX in a close 24–21 game.
In 2013, Reid took over as the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs and again demonstrated his talent for turning around bad teams, as the Chiefs earned an 11–5 record in his first year after finishing 2–14 the season before he arrived. Under Reid’s leadership, the Chiefs have had seven straight winning seasons.
Reid had achieved everything a head coach can, except winning a Super Bowl. He demonstrates a quiet and dignified sideline demeanor. He has endured a real-world tragedy, having lost his son in 2012 from an overdose, according to an NFL article. All of these characteristics make Reid the sentimental choice for many fans who rooted for the Chiefs.
Kyle Shanahan, age 40, was born into football royalty. As the son of two-time Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan was raised in a football milieu. As reported in a Pro Football History biography, Shanahan played college football at the University of Texas. After graduation, he began as a graduate assistant at UCLA. Following one season in college coaching, Shanahan moved permanently to the NFL ,where he assisted Coach Jon Gruden for two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Following his initial NFL exposure, he earned coaching positions with the Houston Texans, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons, with experiences comprising wide receiver coach, quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. Shanahan was mentored by head coaches such as Gary Kubiak, his father Mike Shanahan, Mike Pettine and Dan Quinn.
Shanahan took over as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers for the 2017 season. After two losing seasons, the 49ers have become a dominant team in 2019, earning a 13–3 record.
The universal affection that Andy Reid feels may not be as universally felt for Kyle Shanahan outside of San Francisco. On Twitter, Michael David Smith, a freelance writer, managing editor of ProFootballTalk and AOL.com sports blogger , wrote “Kyle Shanahan did, in fact, get a head start in coaching because of nepotism. That he has done well with his opportunities doesn’t change the fact that his last name helped him get those opportunities.”
It appears that based on sentiment, Andy Reid would have had more people rooting for his Chiefs during the Super Bowl. However, professional football is not a sentimental sport and is played on the gridiron, so perhaps the best fans could hope for is an exciting game.
The Chiefs won the Super Bowl 31–20, and we can all be happy for Andy Reid while we wish the younger Kyle Shanahan a long and successful career.