It is widely believed that Vance Joseph was Denver Broncos general manager John Elway’s top choice for head coach from the beginning. As Les Shapiro points out however, Kyle Shanahan may have made the decision extremely difficult.

According to Shapiro’s source, Shanahan was “closer than anybody outside Dove Valley realizes,” to getting the job.

“He [Elway] thinks the world of Kyle’s offensive acumen,” Shapiro said during The Afternoon Drive on Mile High Sports Radio. “He wanted to get back to those days of Mike Shanahan going up and down the field, and he knows Kyle is an offshoot of, is a prodigal son (an actual son) of his father; and knows offense very, very well.

“John kept thinking ‘this offense sucks, and I want to get back to being what we’ve been in the past, to being what we were when I was the quarterback.’”

If he had faith in Shanahan’s ability to fix the offense, then why didn’t Elway hire him? While Elway felt that Shanahan could fix the offense, he thought he might experience some growing pains. With the team still in position to contend, he instead opted for a “leader of men” that was more a continuation of what has been seen in Denver than a reset.

“If John Elway, I know this for a fact now, felt this team was in a rebuild, and felt he needed to bring a different culture into that locker room and into the meeting rooms, Kyle Shanahan very well could have been your head coach right now,” said Shapiro. “John Elway felt that they were still on the track to go to the playoffs, and even get to and win a Super Bowl again. Because they’re not in a rebuild, because they don’t need to change the culture any, Vance Joseph was the guy to come in and keep things going.”

Listen to the full segment with Eric Goodman and Shapiro, including how John Elway got along with several former coaches and coordinators, in the podcast below.

Catch Afternoon Drive with Goodman and Shapiro every weekday from 4p-6p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7 or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup.