49ers’ Kyle Shanahan Draws Incredibly High Praise From Former Patriots Exec

Bill Belichick and Kyle Shanahan are at the helm of the top teams in the AFC and NFC, respectively.

Scott Pioli has worked with both head coaches.

Pioli worked in the Patriots’ player personnel department from 2000 through 2008, during which New England reached four Super Bowls and claimed three Lombardi Trophies. He also served as the Atlanta Falcons general manager from 2014 through last season. Shanahan, of course, was the Falcons offensive coordinator in the 2015 and 2016 seasons and helped guide Atlanta to Super Bowl LI.

With the 49ers on pace for one of the top seeds in the NFC playoffs this season, Shanahan surely will be in the mix for 2019 Coach of the Year. This likely doesn’t come as much of a surprise to Pioli, who sees some Belichick in the 39-year-old.

“I’ve never met a coach who reminds me of Bill Belichick as much as Kyle,” Piolo told NBC Sports’ Peter King.

Praise doesn’t get much higher than that in the coaching world.

Both Belichick and Shanahan are in line for tough tests Sunday. The Patriots will be hard-pressed to improve to 11-1 against Deshaun Watson and the Texans in Houston, while the 49ers will face their toughest game of the season to date: a matchup with the red-hot Baltimore Ravens.