Saturday night’s preseason matchup between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers will be a battle of a pair of first-year head coaches, both of whom were vying for the job in Denver back in January. One of Denver’s three finalists for the job had a hunch the job was going to someone else.

Following Gary Kubiak’s retirement the Broncos interviewed Dave Toub (special teams coordinator in Kansas City) Kyle Shanahan (then the Falcons’ offensive coordinator) and Vance Joseph (then Miami’s defensive coordinator) for their vacant head coaching position. Joseph ultimately won the job and Shanahan eventually took the head job in San Francisco.

How close was Kyle Shanahan, the son of former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, to following in his father’s footsteps in Denver?

The younger Shanahan joined Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 following his team’s joint practice with the Broncos Thursday and peeled back the curtain about his candidacy for one of the most important jobs in Denver sports.

“You know, I don’t know. I don’t think that’s a question for me,” Shanahan said when asked how close he thought he was to landing the head coaching job.

“I think you’d have to ask probably John [Elway] on that, you know. I never thought I was as close as other people did.”

Mike was head coach of the Broncos for 14 seasons during the 1990s and 2000s, leading the team to its first two Super Bowl titles, and leading many fans to favor Kyle among the finalist candidates. The fact that his Atlanta Falcons put up 28 points on the New England Patriots and nearly won Super Bowl LI, and the fact that Denver’s offense was its biggest weakness last year, reinforced that notion. However, Shanahan felt going into the interview that he was only an outside candidate.

“The whole time, even going into it, I went into it thinking I had a very outside chance. That was just my gut feeling,” he told Goodman and Shapiro.

The interview was a chance to re-connect with two figures who knew him well as a youth growing up in and around the organization. Elway and Broncos CEO Joe Ellis were key figures as quarterback and executive vice president of business operations during parts of Mike’s tenure as head coach. They were also the key decision makers in hiring Kubiak’s replacement.

“I had a good interview with those guys,” Shanahan said. “It was my first time seeing John and Joe [Ellis] for a long time.”

Despite his longstanding ties with the organization, and his success leading the Falcons’ offense, Shanahan said deep down he felt the job was going elsewhere.

“What I felt like after the interview,” he said. “I felt like I made the decision hard on them, but I kind of always deep down had a hunch that that wasn’t the direction they were going to go.”

His hunch was right; now he’ll face the man who landed the job, Joseph, in a preseason contest.

Listen to the full interview with Kyle Shanahan, including his thoughts on Denver’s two young quarterbacks, in the podcast below.

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