Said Broncos QB turned Monday Night Football broadcaster turned 49ers QB coach Brian Griese: “Glad it happened because I needed a change.”
LAS VEGAS — You know what we have here in the Super Bowl-playing 49ers, don’t you? You have the offspring of the 1997-98 Super Bowl-champion Broncos.
It was Mike Shanahan and Ed McCaffrey then. It’s their sons Kyle Shanahan and Christian McCaffrey now.
“It’s so cool that our kids are competing in the Super Bowl right now,’’ Ed McCaffrey said here Wednesday from Super Bowl LVIII Radio Row. “ It’s just unbelievable. You couldn’t write a better script.”
We all have our favorite players. Mine was Joe Namath, to show how old I am. Kyle Shanahan’s favorite player? None other than Ed McCaffrey, the father of Kyle Shanahan’s star running back, Christian McCaffrey.
“First of all his dad was my hero,’’ Shanahan, the 49ers’ head coach, said this week. “I cut my shoes like him, I wore my shoulder pads like him, I had (twitches) like him after he caught a pass and shook his head.
“I’ve always loved Ed and I knew he had a bunch of crazy boys. And they played tackle football outside the games together and killed each other all the time. It was hard to tell which was the difference was.
“Everyone acts like I babysat them but that was my sister. I know Ed and Lisa very well and to have Christian here the last year-and-a-half is real cool. Because his parents are awesome people. His dad was a hero of mine. His mom is as cool a person as there is. And to get Christian and watch the similarities of his mom and dad, it’s not a surprise how special he is and it’s really cool to be around.”
Was Christian McCaffrey aware his dad was his head coach’s favorite player?
“Yeah, I heard that the other day, that’s awesome,’’ Christian said Wednesday from the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort. “It’s cool all the connections between all the old Broncos and the staff now and all the guys who are still here and the different vantage points. My vantage point, (Kyle Shanahan’s) vantage point, (Brian) Griese, Bobby Turner, Anthony Lynn.
“Obviously, were all kind of intertwined at the same time when the Broncos were having so much success. His perspective of my dad, it’s pretty cool.’’
Kyle wore No. 87 in college in honor of Ed. To think he would mimic Ed’s quirks and twitches after making a catch.
“I was a bad influence on Kyle,’’ Ed McCaffrey said with a smile. “He should have picked Rod Smith to emulate. No, I remember he used to hang around the locker room all the time. Kyle, you could tell he loved football from the first time you met him. He was out there working with the DBs and receivers on the sideline with future Hall of Fame coach Mike Shanahan.
“Just such fun to be around. I didn’t know that, I knew he wore 87, I thought that was (Eric) Decker. No, the Shanahans were like family to us.’’
Shannon Sharpe was a Hall of Fame tight end for yesterday’s Broncos. Today he’s a national sports talker who is supposed to be objective. Sorry, not in Super Bowl 58’s meeting against the Chiefs he’s not.
“I’ve known C-Mac since he was 2,’’ Sharpe said Wednesday from Radio Row. “And Kyle since he was 12. And so I’m biased, I am. I really am biased. … I knew the sky was the limit if he got with Kyle. Because Kyle’s play-calling, his imagination could use Christian in the way that Carolina wasn’t using him.’’
Then there’s Brian Griese, who after his playing career became a renowned football broadcaster – including calling Broncos’ preseason games for 9NEWS. Griese reached the broadcast summit on Monday Night Football. He was replaced, then became the 49ers quarterbacks coach for Brock Purdy.
“At that point in my career it was a good thing, I’m glad it happened,’’ Griese said. “Put it that way, glad it happened because I needed a change. I had done it for 13 years and it kind of got stale. Plus I get back into it and I’m learning every single day. I’m a lifelong learner. I want to push myself to see how much I can accomplish, so it’s been a great challenge.”
John Lynch is a Broncos’ Ring of Fame safety who as the 49ers’ general manager built the powerhouse roster that has played in four of the past five NFC Championship Games, winning two. Better believe during down time, there’s a lot of old Broncos talk around the 49ers building.
“I think we all do,’’ Lynch said. “From Kyle’s dad to Bobby Turner to Christian. I mean, shoot, Christian, I played with his dad at Stanford, I was a quarterback throwing passes to his dad. I remember his mom at Stanford being a great soccer player when I was there so there’s a lot of connections and there tends to be that in football. It’s fun though. It’s something that bounds us really tight.’’
For all of Christian’s accomplishments – including winning the NFL rushing title this year – dad says winning a Super Bowl would go to the top of the list.
“It’s always been the most important thing to him,’’ Ed said. “He loves football. It’s the greatest team sport in the world. He loves his teammates. He loves being part of something bigger than himself. He loves taking the field with his guys. Win, lose or draw you look at them in the eyes and you know you gave it everything you had. That’s what it’s all about for him. He’s always wanted to be part of a Super Bowl championship.”
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