Entering Sunday night’s game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, Matt LaFleur had gone head-to-head against good friend Kyle Shanahan three times.
LaFleur won one, in 2020. Shanahan won two, both in 2019, including the NFC Championship Game.
After each game, win or lose, the two met at midfield, hugged, and briefly spoke to each other.
Following the Packers’ last-second victory over the 49ers in Week 3, the same couldn’t be further from the truth. TV cameras caught a very brief moment between the two coaches. While they did meet at midfield for a handshake, they didn’t stop. Both LaFleur and Shanahan barely broke stride as they continued to walk on.
Maybe there was nothing in it, but it sure had a far more awkward feel to it than following the other three games between these two coaches.
Following the Aaron Rodgers drama this past offseason, the relationship between LaFleur and Shanahan had been placed under the microscope.
According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, LaFleur said last week that he holds “no ill will toward him” despite the offseason links between Rodgers and the 49ers. A previous report from Demovsky said that the Packers were “upset teams may have contacted Rodgers to gauge whether he’d be interested in playing for them if they tried to make a trade”, one of those teams being Shanahan’s 49ers.
Last week, NFL reporter Michael Silver posted a fascinating thread on Twitter about the LaFleur-Shanahan relationship, in which he noted the offseason situation with Rodgers “caused a lot of drama” between the two coaches.
LaFleur plays down post-game moment
As expected, LaFleur was asked about his post-game moment with Shanahan, and he again played it down.
“I’d say you’d have to ask Kyle about that,” LaFleur said. “I know Kyle. He’s ultra competitive. That’s a tough moment for anybody to be in. I’m sure he was ticked off that we were able to take the ball down and kick a field goal to win the football game.”
“We’ve got a lot of history together. I’m not going to let anything come between our friendship,” LaFleur added.
Perhaps the emotion of the game was the reason. For Shanahan, his team had just lost on a 37-second drive ending with a 51-yard Mason Crosby field goal.
But whatever the case, it was hard not to feel awkward watching the two coaches meet at midfield following the game on Sunday night.