After the press conference that formally introduced him to the 49erland, Kyle Shanahan sat atop a long cabinet near the cubicles of the Levi’s Stadium media work room and took the time to answer additional questions from reporters. Shanahan talked about the fate of running backs coach Tom Rathman (“I’m trying hard to get him to be here”), working with his father in Washington (“He’ll be a sounding board for my whole life”) and his interview with 49ers CEO Jed York (“It was the only interview I’ve had where the GM wasn’t there”), among other topics.
Before he got serious, though, Shanahan graced the media with the lowdown on his brush with sportswriter Art Spander, who accidentally wandered off with Shanahan’s backpack at a media whoop-de-do the Monday before Super Bowl LI.
“It was a very panicked feeling,” Shanahan said.
You won’t understand how delightful this story is unless you know Art Spander, a press box legend who has attended 134 consecutive Pro Bowls and was covering U.S. Open golf when the golfers had to build their own tees out of mounds of mud. Artie is lovable and revered, but he can be a little forgetful. So, it turns out, can Kyle Shanahan.
Here is Shanahan’s rundown of the heist, following a question about his Super Bowl playbook going missing:
“That wasn’t why I was nervous. I have an iPad, that all of us do now. And you need codes to get into it, and we can erase the whole thing from where we are. That had all my Super Bowl tickets in it, for all my friends and family. So basically it’s a $30,000 bag of cash that was missing. So that was my panic.”
“I was walking around the whole thing trying to – I was just looking for my backpack. But I couldn’t get more than five feet with someone stopping me. I was getting insecure, because people are trying to talk to me, and I’m like, can’t even look ’em in the eye: ‘Gotta find my backpack.’ They’re like, ‘This guy’s weird.’
“Finally I went back to my seat, where I was, and there was one backpack sitting there. And so I started looking in this backpack and I found Art’s name on it, and I was talking to some reporters around, and someone had his cell phone. So they called him. They talked to Art, and finally I was like, ‘Well, does he have it?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘You just talked to him for 30 seconds, what do you mean you don’t know?’ He said, ‘I don’t know. He’s coming down here, though.’
“So I sat and waited like 30 minutes for him to get here. I missed the bus. Finally he came, he was wearing the backpack. But he still didn’t know it was mine. So I tried to grab it from him and he shook me off. And then eventually he realized, and he was awesome.”
Someone asked Shanahan if the two backpacks were identical.
“Not really,” he said. “It’s a dark area. A really dark area. His was black, mine was blue. But the worst part of it is I am a forgetful person. Besides football, my wallet I lose regularly. So all the quarterbacks, my wife, every friend I’ve ever had, they’re like, ‘Of course you lost the game plan.’ I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t. Someone jacked me, I promise.’ No one believed me.”
There you have it. Spander, by the way, missed the press conference. He’s covering the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he is rumored to have collected the bags of as many as 20 golfers.