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49ers' Shanahan looking to finally emerge from father's coaching shadow with Super Bowl win

Kyle Shanahan San Francisco 49ers Kyle Shanahan - The Canadian Press

There have been six father-son head coaching duos in NFL history. And while two of the fathers have coached their teams to Super Bowl titles, none of the sons have been able to do so.

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is looking to buck that trend this year when the 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVIII.

Watch the Super Bowl LIVE on the TSN Network and CTV, with pre-game coverage running throughout the day on Feb. 11.

Kyle's father, Mike Shanahan, is a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Denver Broncos in 1997 and 1998, and coached with the Los Angeles Raiders (1988-89) and Washington (2010-13) in addition to his 14-season run as Broncos head coach as part of a storied 20-year career. 

Other father-son head coaching pairs include Bum and Wade Phillips, Buddy and Rex Ryan, Don and Dave Shula, Jim Mora Sr. and Jim Mora Jr. and Mike and Dick Nolan. 

Father-son head coaching duos in NFL history

Father Teams Accomplishments Son Teams Accomplishments
Mike Shanahan Raiders, Broncos, Washington 2x Super Bowl winner
.552 winning percentage
Kyle Shanahan 49ers 2x Super Bowl appearances
.557 winning percentage
Don Shula Colts, Dolphins 2x Super Bowl winner
.677 winning percentage
Dave Shula Bengals .268 winning percentage
Buddy Ryan Eagles, Cardinals .500 winning percentage
Three playoff appearances
Rex Ryan Jets, Bills .480 winning percentage
Two AFC Championship games
Bum Phillips Oilers, Saints .516 winning percentage
Two AFC Championship games
Wade Phillips Saints, Broncos, Bills
Falcons, Cowboys, Texans
.562 winning percentage
Five playoff appearances
Dick Nolan 49ers, Saints .457 winning percentage
1970 PFWA Coach of the Year
Mike Nolan 49ers .327 winning percentage
Jim Mora Sr. Saints, Colts .541 winning percentage
Six playoff appearances
Jim Mora Jr. Falcons, Cowboys, Texans .484 winning percentage
One playoff appearance

The elder Shanahan had an impressive head coaching resume, though he falls short of arguably the greatest head coach in NFL history in Don Shula. 

Where the distinction lies for son Kyle is in coaching style: Mike's zone blocking scheme - which revolves around motion creating double teams for blockers at specific attack points rather than blockers individually targeting defenders - revolutionized offensive play calling, and led to his team ranking in the top five in rushing yards gained in 13 of 20 seasons as head coach. 

The younger Shanahan served as offensive coordinator on his father's staff in 2013 - a group that featured current NFL head coaches Sean McVay (tight ends coach), Matt LaFleur (quarterbacks coach) and Mike McDaniel (wide receivers coach), who now coach the Los Angeles Rams, Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins, respectively. 

All of those coaches now employ a similar zone blocking scheme adapted from Mike's offence and three of the four finished in the top 10 for rushing this season.

Can Kyle make the changes necessary to his dad's scheme to generate production against the tough Chiefs' defence?

Kyle Shanahan performance against top defences

Over the last five seasons, including the last time Shanahan's 49ers made the Super Bowl, his team has faced a defence that finished the season ranked in top five for either points or yards allowed 12 times.

The results have been mixed: six wins, six losses. They struggled mightily against the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns this season, the top defences in the NFL by scoring and yardage, respectively. 

In the rain in Cleveland in October, the 49ers tied for their fewest points scored in a game this year in a 19-17 loss. Against Baltimore on Christmas day, they committed a season-high five turnovers in a 33-19 defeat. 

The Chiefs are coming off a 17-10 victory in the AFC title game where their defence held the league's top rushing offence in the Ravens to 81 yards on the ground, by far their lowest output in a game this season. 

Kyle Shanahan's old foe 

Kansas City is a team the Shanahan 49ers have struggled against in his seven years at the helm.

In three games, the 49ers are winless, and have been outscored by a combined 113-70. Their Super Bowl matchup in 2020 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami saw a 20-10 third quarter lead disappear in the final frame, as Mahomes led the Chiefs on three consecutive scoring drives to win Super Bowl LIV 31-20. 

The Chiefs are one of three teams Shanahan has yet to beat with the 49ers, the other two being the Buffalo Bills (lost their only matchup) and the Ravens. 

This head coaching matchup between Shanahan and Chiefs' coach Andy Reid is only the fourth Super Bowl rematch between head coaches in NFL history. 

The coach to win the first game in the previous three instances all went on to win the second: Chuck Noll's Pittsburgh Steelers beat Tom Landry's Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowls X and XIII, Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys beat Marv Levy's Bills in Super Bowls XXVII and XVIIII, and Tom Coughlin's New York Giants beat Bill Belichick's New England Patriots in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. 

At 44 years old, Shanahan has the opportunity to become the ninth youngest Super Bowl-winning head coach in NFL history when his 49ers battle the Chiefs on Feb. 11.