Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan are very good friends. In the NFC West, the two are also major rivals. The Rams have been very aggressive in acquiring talent, and when Julio Jones was on the trade market, Shanahan was nervous that he might end up in L.A.
The Rams went and added Jalen Ramsey in 2019. This offseason, they looked to upgrade at quarterback and swapped Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford. They’re never overly worried about mortgaging first-round picks when superstars are available.
Jones certainly fits the bill. Even coming off of an injury-filled 2020, there are few offenses that wouldn’t be upgraded by the future Hall of Famer.
Shanahan joined McVay on The Ringer’s Flying Coach podcast this week. The two were very honest about their offseasons and their thoughts about the other’s team as we get ready for the 2021 season. Among Shanahan’s biggest worries was that the Rams would make another huge splash and trade for Julio Jones, who wound up with the Tennessee Titans.
What’s it like being a coach in the NFC West?
“It’s an arms race…”
On Julio Jones, game theory, bluffing, and why Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan can’t be as open and honest with each other as they would like to be.
“…that tidbit he gave me at the Combine… did he mean it?” pic.twitter.com/IydlxyxhKe
— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) July 7, 2021
“Julio would have helped everybody, but you know what it’s doing to your organization for that year and the years to come,” Shanahan said on the podcast, admitting that if it looked like the Rams were in on him, the 49ers might have been aggressive in swooping in.
“That’s a really risky thing, but man, if Sean’s getting him, I’m going to risk that. I know that’s how he thinks, that’s how we all think. You’ve got to compete with your division first.”
Both sides made huge splashes this offseason. The Rams had the aforementioned Stafford deal, and the 49ers traded up to take Trey Lance at No. 3 overall, a move that may not pay immediate dividends but could set the team up for years to come.
Given both teams’ recent trips to the Super Bowl, as well as the constant threat of the Seattle Seahawks and the up-and-coming, flashy Arizona Cardinals, and it is no surprise that both NFC West coaches agree that the division is a true “arms race” right now.