Report: 49ers extend Mike LaFleur’s contract before Super Bowl LIV
Reams of newsprint and pixels will be generated by Super Bowl LIV later today. It will be one of the most-covered events in the world this year, and in the immediate aftermath we’ll all have injuries, flamboyant quotes and the falling or rising stock of various players to analyze.
We didn’t expect 49ers news to break the morning of Feb. 2, hours before kickoff.
But it did, when ESPN scoop-meister Adam Schefter tweeted the following: “49ers’ passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur, who was working on an expiring contract and had been wanted in Green Bay to join his brother Matt, signed a contract extension this postseason with SF, per league source. Now LaFleur isn’t going anywhere; he’s remaining with 49ers.”
This is fairly big deal. Head coach Kyle Shanahan is the mastermind of the San Francisco offense, but he leans heavily on LaFleur and Mike McDaniel, the run game coordinator, to transmit the play concepts to the 49ers players. I wrote about McDaniel, 36, for Friday’s newspaper. The Niners’ run game was more dominant this season, but LaFleur, 33, is also a highly valued young coach.
“I get a lot of credit for stuff that happens on offense and stuff. But those guys, they’ve taken a lot of that over,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “They do the majority of the game plan on Monday and Tuesday. I’ve gotta dabble in a bunch of stuff, and I’m spread a little thinner earlier in the week, which is something I used to stress about a lot. But giving those guys the responsibility, they’ve grown so much more in a way. That’s why I don’t stress it that much anymore.”
As Schefter indicated, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, whom the 49ers defeated in the NFC championship game two weeks ago, wanted to hire his brother. Multiples reports also indicated that the Cleveland Browns and their new head coach, Kevin Stefanski, were interested in bringing in both McDaniel and LaFleur to interview for their open offensive coordinator position.
Shanahan attempted to shoot that down before it became an issue.
“I think it’s funny, everyone asks every year where they’re going to go,” he said. “They’re our coordinators, so they have coordinator jobs. That’s what I keep telling people.”
NFL teams can block assistant coaches from making lateral moves. Had LaFleur’s contract expired, though, he would have been free to leave the 49ers and sign with any competitor, for any role. The contract extension locks him in for a while. With defensive coordinator Robert Saleh getting beaten out by Stefanski for the Browns job, it’s looking like the Niners will be able to retain all or most of Shanahan’s staff.
None of that would have mattered for today’s Super Bowl battle against the Kansas City Chiefs. But it will matter a lot when the 49ers are trying to bounce back from a loss in the big game — or aiming for a repeat — in 2020.
You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post.