San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reached out to talk after the Pats overcame a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl LI to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, for whom Shanahan was serving as an offensive coordinator at the time.
Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area provided the complete comments from Shanahan, who noted Belichick is different behind the scenes than his typically irritable public persona might suggest:
"It was really cool that he reached out to me after the Super Bowl just to talk. I was able to spend some time with him at the  NFL combine, which I was very appreciative of. Any time that guy talks, everyone in the world listens. That was especially true for someone like me who aspired to be a head coach. He has been great. It's not like we talk a ton or anything, but he's a humble guy who likes to help people."
Later in 2017, the Patriots traded quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the Niners in exchange for a second-round draft pick, which seemed like a low price tag. Although Belichick hasn't confirmed it, speculation suggests he wanted to give Garoppolo a chance to succeed rather than simply taking the highest offer.
Shanahan addressed those rumors Monday, per Bair.
"Having someone like Bill say something like that, for me and what I do in life, it's pretty cool," he said. "That's a big a compliment as I could personally have. It feels great. Hopefully that's true because I'm very glad he felt that way, and I feel very fortunate that we were able to get Jimmy."
The steadiness of Garoppolo paired with the Niners' dominant running game and the league's second-ranked defense has led San Francisco into a Super Bowl LIV clash with the Kansas City Chiefs.
While a narrative has grown that Shanahan will use Sunday's game as a chance at redemption after the Falcons' offensive failures three years ago, he said Monday that loss didn't change his approach.
"I'm always hard on myself, but I'm aggressive, I prepare hard and I leave it all out on the line," Shanahan said, per Bair. "That's how I treated every game before that Super Bowl. It's how I treated that Super Bowl and every game after."
The Niners' play-calling has been nothing short of outstanding during their postseason run. They've identified key weaknesses in opposing rush defenses and exploited them to extreme effect, leading to lopsided wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.
A similar performance will be necessary Sunday to help keep Patrick Mahomes and the high-powered Chiefs offense on the sideline for as long as possible.