The last time Kyle Shanahan and Matt LaFleur met was at the postgame handshake following the Green Bay Packers' Week 3 victory at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers coach gave an icy greeting to his colleague, leading to speculation of a relationship on the rocks.
Ahead of Saturday's Divisional Round rematch at Lambeau Field, Shanahan dismissed any ill will toward LaFleur, noting that he was just peeved at allowing Aaron Rodgers to retake the lead on a 37-second field goal drive to lose the game.
"Matt's my guy. Matt and I are totally good," Shanahan said, via the team's official transcript. "I was pissed after that game because of how that game just ended. That was a tough one. It took a while to get over, but we're good. I talk to Matt a lot. He's done a hell of a job this year. I've been real happy for him, but that stops this week."
The cold handshake coupled with offseason chatter that the two coaches were upset about the reports of the Niners' brief call regarding the availability of acquiring Rodgers in a trade fueled the belief that their relationship wasn't great.
Shanahan and LaFleur worked on coaching staffs together dating back to Houston in 2008 when Kyle was offensive coordinator and Matt an offensive assistant just breaking into the NFL. LaFleur then followed Shanny to Washington for four seasons (2010-2013) and Atlanta for two years (2015-2016) as quarterbacks coach. Their paths have since diverged.
The two will meet for the fifth time since LaFleur took the head coaching gig in Green Bay. They've split the previous four meetings, with Shanahan getting the lone playoff win (2019 NFC Championship Game).
Saturday night's collision features two teams that have come a long way since their Week 3 matchup. The Niners are 8-2 in their last 10 games, including Sunday's road playoff victory in Dallas. The Packers, meanwhile, sit as the No. 1 seed in the NFC and are as healthy as they've been all season heading into the weekend.
"Yeah, I feel like we're a different team now than we were then, as everybody is," Shanahan said. "I mean, you just start out the year and you go through a number of different players. But football's not much different, both teams, schematically, plays you're running, concepts you're running, the coverages they're doing. There's some little different wrinkles when you watch teams at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year, but most of the stuff stays the same. It's just nice to see when a team's executing better. When you feel like guys are practicing, playing better together as a unit. And I think we're in a better spot now than we were at that time."