Mike Shanahan returns to Broncos camp after years away

Sat Aug 17 6:30pm ET
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throws a pass during a combined NFL training camp with the Denver Broncos Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Retired NFL head coach Mike Shanahan, center, talks to reporters during a combined NFL training camp at which the Denver Broncos hosted the San Francisco 49ers Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, back, tosses a ball as defensive backs coach Joe Woods looks on during a combined NFL training camp with the Denver Broncos Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio, left, chats with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan during a combined NFL training camp Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, at the Broncos' headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Mike Shanahan patrolled the sideline with his familiar stare as he watched his son's team practice against his former one.

No way could the former head coach stay away from the Denver Broncos headquarters this weekend.

For a decade, Shanahan avoided the facility where he won two Super Bowl titles before getting fired after the 2008 season.

Time, though, has thawed any hard feelings. And so has golf with Broncos boss John Elway, who made it clear that Shanahan was always welcome around team headquarters.

Shanahan certainly had good reason to drop by the past two days with Denver holding joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers coached by his son, Kyle.

''It's great to be back,'' said the elder Shanahan, who won back-to-back Super Bowl titles with Elway under center in the late 1990s. ''I haven't been here in 10 years and to see all the changes, a lot of people you were here before working with - it's great to see.''

Shanahan been a frequent guest of the 49ers since his son was hired by San Francisco in 2017. He mentored Jimmy Garoppolo after the QB suffered a torn ACL three games into the 2018 season. The two talked schemes and blitzes with Garoppolo's year finished.

''It was a chance for him to relax and have some fun and at the same time get to study some football together,'' Shanahan said.

Shanahan does miss coaching. A lot. Shanahan hasn't been a head coach since going 3-13 with Washington in 2013. He had conversations with Elway and nearly got another shot with the Broncos, who have turned things over to 60-year-old first-time head coach Vic Fangio.

''It didn't work out and sometimes it works out for the right reasons,'' said Shanahan, who also attended a Broncos practice last month. ''I made a decision a long time ago, right when I got fired, I said if I didn't get the right job right away that gave us a chance to win a Super Bowl, that I was going to do what I'm doing - be a dad, follow your son and the organization and be a part of that.''

Kyle Shanahan didn't get a chance to spend much time with his dad Saturday.

He had a practice to run.

Still, it was a surreal experience to be on the same turf where his father guided all those Broncos teams. Although the facilities have been updated, it's still the familiar place where he used to spend a bulk of his teen years.

''I've got a lot of memories here,'' Kyle Shanahan said. ''It's a very special place for me.''

Same goes for Mike Shanahan, who has a standing invitation to return anytime he wants - with one exception.

''Unless we're playing the 49ers in a real game,'' cracked Fangio, whose team faces the 49ers in a preseason matchup Monday night.

Shanahan has long been friends with Fangio, forged by years and years of matching wits. That helped pave the way for Shanahan's return. So did rounds of golf with Elway.

''It's always good to see him out here because I enjoy talking football with him,'' Elway said. ''As you all know, he's very knowledgeable in the game, so I'm glad that he's able to come back and know that this is home for him.''

One question that makes Shanahan sheepish is the notion that he belongs in the Broncos' Ring of Fame or even in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

''When people just mention you about those things, you go, `Wait a minute,''' said Shanahan, who amassed 170 wins with the Raiders, Broncos and Washington. ''You think Hall of Fame and you just say, `what a great honor,' when people talk to you about it. ... But I never even think about things you can't control.''

Shanahan does think the Broncos made the right move in hiring Fangio, who's trying to turn around a franchise that hasn't been to the postseason since winning the Super Bowl following the 2015 season in Peyton Manning's final game.

''No-nonsense guy, that understands the game,'' Shanahan said of Fangio. ''I think players will follow him very quickly.''

Naturally, Shanahan's a big fan of the coach in San Francisco, too. He believes the 49ers have put the pieces around his son to be competitive.

''All you want to have is the opportunity to have success,'' the father said. ''Kyle has been given that opportunity.''

Player Notes
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Jameis Winston Sep 18 4:03pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Winston would be a high-end QB2 under standard circumstances with a nice matchup in Week 3, but he could be the best available option for fantasy managers who've already lost a quarterback early in the season.

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Greg Zuerlein Sep 18 4:00pm ET

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T Y Hilton Sep 18 3:53pm ET

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Jacoby Brissett Sep 18 3:53pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Brissett has been held below 200 yards passing in each of the first two games of the season. He has thrown five touchdowns against one interception. He's a low-end QB2.

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Bruce Irvin Sep 18 3:53pm ET

Carolina Panthers S Rashaan Gaulden (groin), OT Brandon Greene (neck), LB Bruce Irvin (hamstring) and DT Kawann Short (shoulder) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.

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Jonathan Williams Sep 18 3:53pm ET

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Cooper Kupp Sep 18 3:50pm ET

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Robert Woods Sep 18 3:50pm ET

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Brandin Cooks Sep 18 3:50pm ET

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Jared Goff Sep 18 3:50pm ET

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Albert Wilson Sep 18 3:43pm ET

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Josh Rosen Sep 18 3:43pm ET

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Cam Newton Sep 18 3:43pm ET

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Greg Olsen Sep 18 3:43pm ET

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Marlon Mack Sep 18 3:43pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Mack played 68% of the Colts' offensive snaps in Week 2 and rushed for 51 yards on 20 attempts after going for 174 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. It won't be surprising to see him rest early in the week at practice in order to keep him ready for such heavy workloads on Sundays.

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Jacksonville Jaguars Sep 18 3:40pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey will play on Thursday against the Titans, according to head coach Doug Marrone. Ramsey is unhappy with his contract situation in Jacksonville and requested a trade Monday night. He's expected to get dealt as early as this Friday for a pair of first-round picks, so Thursday's game is shaping up to be his last in a Jaguars uniform. The shutdown corner will likely shut down Titans receiver Corey Davis on the outside. Against a slow-paced, run-first Titans offense led by inconsistent quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Jaguars Defense is in play as a low-end starting option in Week 3.

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Tyler Kroft Sep 18 3:23pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Kroft appears to be on track to play in Week 3 and could take over the starting tight end job. He should not be a starting fantasy option this week, but fantasy players could keep an eye on him because he could be a waiver wire option down the road.

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Fantasy Spin: Brown has become the team's main target in the passing game and should continue to see plenty of target during games. He can be at least a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues this week.

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