Matt Ryan had an MVP season under now-49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan when both were with the Falcons, and Ryan recently described what makes Shanahan unique.
Shanahan also helped make Ryan the 2016 NFL MVP at the helm of one of football's most potent offenses in recent memory. And despite Atlanta losing one of the most heartbreaking Super Bowls in history to the New England Patriots that season, Shanahan's efforts with Ryan and the Falcons offense ultimately turned into the Niners hiring him the following offseason.
Now joining CBS Sports after a 15-year career that included the 2016 MVP award and four Pro Bowls, Ryan sat down with Audacy's Take Command podcast to chat about a number of topics.
Including his relationship with Shanahan.
Matt Ryan describes Kyle Shanahan as 'headstrong,' appreciates 49ers head coach's honesty
Ryan and Shanahan spent two years with each other in 2015 and 2016 when the latter was employed by the Falcons as their offensive coordinator under former head coach Dan Quinn. Atlanta went 8-8 the first year with Shanahan there, and Ryan completed 66.3 percent of his passes with 21 touchdowns thrown against 16 interceptions.
Heading into year two, Ryan described a meeting with Shanahan that got pretty "intense," as he said. But the two appreciated having the meeting and were better for it, noted the quarterback.
“It turned into a really great relationship," Ryan added. "I enjoyed playing for him. But we were both headstrong and both had great belief in what we were doing. I really think we both pushed each other to be the best versions of ourselves.”
You can listen to the Take Command podcast with Ryan here:
In addition to being headstrong, Ryan pointed out something that a number of players have already said about Shanahan.
He's brutally honest.
"Number one, the thing I always appreciated about [Shanahan] is you knew exactly where he stood," Ryan said at the 21:29 mark of the podcast. "There was no gray area. There was zero gray area of how he felt. I always appreciated that. As a player, you want honesty back. All I want is for you to put me in a position to be successful and I want to play my best. I think that he pushed me to get better. He pushed me outside of my comfort zone."
Other players, including former Niners cornerback Richard Sherman, have said similar things about San Francisco's head coach.
As far as Ryan was concerned, that honesty helped him win an MVP award and also nearly a Super Bowl.