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Kyle Shanahan focused on Falcons’ playoff run, not 49ers’ coaching vacancy

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan walks on

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan walks on the field during practice, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, in Flowery Branch, Ga. Credit: AP / John Bazemore

The architect of the Falcons’ high-scoring offense is excited about finishing this project before moving on to the next.

Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is the likeliest next head coach of the 49ers, but NFL rules prohibit them from speaking to him again until next week at the earliest, when the Falcons’ season either will be over or they will have the first of two weeks to prepare for Super Bowl LI. The Falcons will host the Packers in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.

Shanahan met with the 49ers during Atlanta’s bye week for the first round of the playoffs earlier this month.

“I think I’ll get that opportunity next week, whatever happens, and I plan on doing that,” Shanahan said Thursday of a second meeting with the 49ers. “But besides that, the NFL keeps it pretty simple for you because you are not really allowed to talk. You can’t really go one way or another. I’m looking forward to having those conversations next week.”

Shanahan, the son of former NFL coach Mike Shanahan, has never been a head coach in the league. He insisted that there is “no understanding” with or secret under-the-table offer from the 49ers, who are the only team in the NFL with a head-coaching vacancy.

Shanahan appears to be the only remaining candidate for the job. Other potential candidates — Josh McDaniels of the Patriots and Tom Cable of the Seahawks — have withdrawn their names from the 49ers’ job search, another sign that it’s Shanahan’s gig whenever he can accept it.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said he has spoken to Shanahan about the whirlwind of being a head-coaching candidate while guiding a team through the playoffs. Two years ago, Quinn took that ride as defensive coordinator of the Seahawks and presumptive head coach of the Falcons. He was introduced in his new job the day after Seattle lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots.

Shanahan, 37, is in his second season with the Falcons and has been credited with the team’s offensive explosion as well as the career year enjoyed by MVP candidate Matt Ryan. The Falcons scored 540 points in 2016, a franchise record.

“It’s a pretty good situation to be in as far as where our team is at right now,” Shanahan said. “This is the coolest moment I’ve had in my career, just being in a game like this.”

And because of the way the league has it set up, he can focus on it.

“I used to think that the [interview] rules weren’t that cool,” Shanahan said. “I love the rules [now] because it’s very simple for me. It’s cut-and-dry. You don’t have an option.”

At least not until after Sunday’s game.

Notes & quotes: Despite not practicing for a second straight day, Julio Jones and the Falcons are optimistic about the All-Pro wide receiver’s ability to play Sunday. Calling the toe injury he aggravated against the Seahawks a “little snag,” Jones said coach Dan Quinn and the team are just being cautious. “It’s fine,” he said. “I’ll be ready to go.” Quinn echoed that sentiment. “I’m not worried . . . This is an injury that he knows well, so we’re trying to get him at his very best . . . He’s on point,” he said. “And honestly, [we] just want to get him to the game with his best readiness.” . . . Packers WR Jordy Nelson (ribs) participated in team drills for the first time since his injury Jan. 8 against the Giants. He was not in pads, however, and his status for Sunday remains uncertain. WR Davante Adams (ankle) did not practice either, but NFL Network reported he is likely to play Sunday.


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