The upcoming Sunday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers is one of the most anticipated games in Week 3. Already a primetime clash between Aaron Rodgers and one of the best defenses in the NFL, there’s a new storyline that offers a new layer of intrigue.
When reports first surfaced about Rodgers wanting out of Green Bay, the 49ers were one of the first teams mentioned as a landing spot. Kyle Shanahan, looking for an upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo, reportedly reached out to see if the reigning NFL MVP was available.
While nothing ever came to fruition, with the 49ers drafting Trey Lance and Rodgers returning to the Packers, it seems tension might have been created between two close friends.
NFL.com’s Mike Silver detailed in a Twitter thread how things went down this spring. On the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft, 49ers’ offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel held a FaceTime call with former assistant coaches Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur.
Both coaches, now overseeing the Jets’ rebuild, were talking about their plans with the No. 2 pick. When Shanahan entered the room, he joked with LaFleur that he hoped the Jets didn’t surprise by taking another passer. LaFleur, the younger brother of Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, responded by saying San Francisco already had its next quarterback in Rodgers.
Shanahan asked Mike LaFleur to tell his brother to return Kyle’s calls, which Matt was reportedly ignoring. When Mike said “Can you blame him?”, Shanahan got visibly upset and left the room. In his eyes, he was simply doing his job by reaching out to see if Rodgers was available for trade.
Part of the backstory here is likely the Green Bay Packers’ suspicion that NFL teams tampered in pursuit of a trade for Rodgers. Rodgers and 49ers’ general manager John Lynch share an agent, David Dunn, who some believe let San Francisco know the All-Pro quarterback wanted out.
LaFleur and Shanahan both downplayed any notion that what happened this offseason impacted their close relationship. But it will be worth watching on Sunday night to see if either team keeps its foot on the gas offensively if leading big late in the game.