Kyle Shanahan once said he would hire Bill Belichick if he 'became available'

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick / Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

While it seems like a pipe dream for the 49ers to land Bill Belichick as defensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan once said he'd consider it.

The San Francisco 49ers are in the hunt for a defensive coordinator in the wake of firing their 2023 man for the job, Steve Wilks.

There were plenty of reasons behind that decision, including head coach Kyle Shanahan and likely many of his key defensive players not fully trusting or buying into what Wilks was trying to operate on that side of the ball.

Regardless, whatever the reactions are to Wilks' dismissal, the reality is that he's no longer part of the team. And Shanahan needs to fill the void.

There have been plenty of names tossed around as potential replacements, including one who is considered the greatest head coach of all time, former New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose storybook tenure with the Pats came to an end after 2023.

With head coaching vacancies drying up, Belichick likely doesn't have too many options to fully take over a franchise. That said, it's hard envisioning one of the architects of New England's two-decade dynasty wanting to play second fiddle behind someone like Shanahan.

Perhaps Belichick entertains in. Perhaps he's willing to take a full year off from football while awaiting a better situation.

Only he knows for sure.

That said, if one thinks Shanahan would never entertain the idea, he certainly would. And, at one point, he did.

Kyle Shanahan suggested he would be open to hiring Bill Belichick back in 2019

Rewind back to the conclusion of the 2018 season. Shanahan and then-defensive coordinator Robert Saleh were coming off their second year with San Francisco, and the 49ers had stumbled to a 4-12 season after losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a torn ACL in Week 3.

Plenty of fans were blaming Saleh for the team's defensive struggles, which prompted Shanahan to address many of the concerns after the season concluded.

Here's what he said, courtesy of Patrick Holloway of Niners Nation:

"No, I don’t see myself making any specific changes. I like our staff a lot. I think we’ve got some good coaches. I think there’s areas we can all get better in. I have an obligation to this organization that, just like I say with any player, when you guys ask me, ‘Hey, is this guy tradeable or anything like that?’ I’ll never say no one’s for sure not. I mean, if Bill Belichick became available two weeks from now and said he wants to come here, and I was told I had to let someone go to bring him in, that would probably be a smart decision to do that. I’m not going to ever say that everyone is just totally safe forever."

Belichick, of course, didn't become available, and Shanahan rightfully stuck with Saleh for two more years before the latter left to become head coach of the New York Jets in 2021.

If anything, Shanahan's comments merely alluded to an overall strategy to improve both the roster and coaching staff wherever and whenever possible. That's been an underlying theme for the 49ers, and it also helps explain the decision regarding Wilks, too.

Now, though, Belichick is available. Shanahan would be wise to at least explore the possibility of adding him to the staff.

Even if Belichick refuses.

Hat tip to Patrick Holloway of Niners Nation for the find and rediscovery.

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