We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

In the matter of the assistant coaches of Kyle Shanahan, head coach, San Francisco 49ers.

This investigation has found that Shanahan’s choices:

1. Were restricted by the lateness of his hire, as other assistant coaches took jobs elsewhere while Shanahan still was coaching the Atlanta Falcons offense during the playoffs.

2. Mostly worked with Shanahan in Atlanta, which is good.

3. Mostly lack experience, which may not be so good.

Brief bios of each assistant follow.

Jon Embree, Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends Coach

From 2011 to 2012, Embree was the head coach at the University of Colorado, where he compiled a record of 4-21. Not a distinguished tenure, but still four more wins than any other coach on Shanahan’s staff, including Shanahan. Embree is the only person who has head-coaching experience on the 49ers.

After getting fired by Colorado in 2012, Embree became the tight ends coach for the Cleveland Browns, then he got fired again after just one season. Then he got hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he coached tight ends from 2014 to 2016.

Embree has eight years of NFL coaching experience – all working with tight ends. Before he came to the NFL, he was an assistant coach at Colorado from 1993 to 2002. In 2003, he became the assistant head coach at UCLA where he worked with Shanahan, a 23-year-old graduate assistant at the time.

Taylor Embree, Offensive Quality Control

This is Jon Embree’s son. Taylor was a starting wide receiver at UCLA from 2008 to 2011 – he caught 137 passes. He was pretty good. After he graduated, he took two years off and then became a graduate assistant with the Bruins in 2014. Then he took another year off in 2015 before becoming a defensive assistant with the Chiefs in 2016. Embree is 28-years old.

Nick Kray, Administrative Assistant to the Head Coach

Kray basically is Shanahan’s secretary. He won’t coach players. He has no experience in the NFL. He comes from North Carolina State where he was the director of football operations the past two years. He held the same position at Yale from 2012 to 2013. He’s 31.

Mike LaFleur, Wide Receivers Coach

He is the younger brother of Matt LaFleur, Shanahan’s quarterbacks coach the past two seasons in Atlanta and the new offensive coordinator for the LA Rams.

Matt LaFleur has eight years of NFL experience. Mike LaFleur has three. He was an offensive coaching intern under Shanahan with the Cleveland Browns in 2014, then went with Shanahan to the Falcons in 2015 and became an offensive assistant. He’s 29.

Before LaFleur came to the NFL, he coached wide receivers at Davidson College for one season. Now he’ll coach Torrey Smith, who probably knows more about the wide-receiver position than LaFleur.

T.C. McCartney, Offensive Assistant

McCartney is 27. He was a graduate assistant in 2012 at Colorado under Jon Embree and a quality control coach in 2014 with the Cleveland Browns, where he worked with Shanahan. Those are McCartney’s connections to this staff. He also was an offensive assistant with the 49ers in 2015 under Jim Tomsula.

Mike McDaniel, Run Game Specialist

McDaniel may have the title of “Run Game Specialist,” but he is not the Run Game Specialist. Bobby Turner is. More on him below.


Monster Energy Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350



10 a.m.: Spectator gates open

11:40 a.m.-12:20 p.m.: Monster Energy Cup practice

1:05-2:25 p.m.: NASCAR Pro Series West practice

2:40-3:55 p.m.: Monster Energy Cup practice


9 a.m.: Spectator gates open

10:00-11:15 a.m.: STEM Race Car Challenge

10:15 a.m.: NASCAR Pro Series West qualifying

11:45 a.m.: Monster Energy Cup qualifying

1:30 p.m.: NASCAR Pro Series West Carneros 200 (64 laps)


7 a.m.: Spectator gates open

11:20 a.m.: Toyota/Save Mart 350 driver introductions

Noon: Toyota/Save Mart 350 race

McDaniel is a Shanahan specialist — he specializes in Shanahans. He worked under Kyle Shanahan as a wide receivers coach and an offensive assistant on the Falcons, the Browns, the Redskins and the Texans. McDaniel also worked as an intern under Mike Shanahan on the Broncos in 2005.

Robert Saleh, Defensive Coordinator

This hire is not yet official. ESPN’s Adam Caplan announced on Monday that the 49ers are “expected” to hire Saleh, who would be the first defensive assistant Shanahan has hired. And the most important.

Shanahan has no background in defense. He won’t even be in the defensive meetings. He will lead the offensive meetings and function as his own offensive coordinator. Which means Saleh will act as a second head coach, the head coach in charge of defense. That’s a lot of pressure for a 38-year old who has very little experience.

Ten years ago, Saleh was a defensive quality control coach with the Texans — that’s where he met Shanahan. In 2011, Saleh became a defensive quality control coach with the Seahawks and held that position until 2013.

The 49ers’ defensive coordinator was a quality control coach as recently as four years ago. Do you have any idea what a quality control coach actually does? He’s certainly not drawing up game plans or coaching players. As far as we know, he’s coaching quality.

From 2014 to 2016, Saleh was the linebackers coach for the Jaguars. He has been a position coach for only three seasons and a defensive coordinator for none. Not much of a track record. Not exactly Vic Fangio. Shanahan is taking a big risk with him. Sometimes, risks work out.

Rich Scangarello, Quarterbacks Coach

Scangarello gained attention last season as the offensive coordinator for Wagner College — a Division 1-AA school in Staten Island, New York. Under Scangarello, Wagner’s offense averaged 26.1 points per game, up from 14.3 per game in 2015, the season before he was hired.

Before he went to Wagner, Scangarello was a quality control coach with the Falcons under Shanahan. He also was an assistant quarterbacks coach in 2009 with the Raiders where he worked with JaMarcus Russell, and an offensive assistant from 1998 to 1999 at UC-Davis where he worked with J.T. O’Sullivan.

Russell and O’Sullivan, two terrible pros, are the most successful quarterbacks Scangarello has coached.

Bobby Turner, Running Backs Coach

Turner has been coaching running backs since 1975, when he got his first college assistant-coaching job at the University of Indiana. Turner is the star of this assistant coaching staff.

From 1989 to 1990, Turner was the running backs coach at Ohio State, where he coached Robert Smith, the two-time Pro Bowler for the Vikings.

And from 1991 to 1994, Turner was the running backs coach at Purdue, where he coached Mike Alstott, the six-time Pro Bowler for the Buccaneers.

In 1995, Mike Shanahan hired Turner to be the running backs coach for the Broncos, and Turner held that position until 2009. During those 15 seasons, Turner coached Mike Anderson, Reuben Droughns, Clinton Portis and Olandis Gary — each had 1,000-yard seasons. Turner also coached Hall of Famer Terrell Davis.

Turner is an expert at coaching and installing the outside-zone running game, which is the foundation of the Shanahan offense. It wouldn’t work without Turner. He has history of success and better credentials than the rest of the assistants combined.

In summary, this investigation concludes: This is a young staff but it is a staff Shanahan is familiar with, a staff he trusts. That’s a start.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

Show Comment