With over two decades' experience in the NFL, Chargers Head Coach Anthony Lynn has crossed paths with countless players and coaches.
The demanding hours the job requires naturally means getting to know and spending time with those same players and coaches' family members. This week, Lynn will go toe-to-toe with one of those family members who ended up following in his father's footsteps.
San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan was a ball boy for the Denver Broncos when Lynn played for his father, Mike Shanahan. On Sunday, the two will reunite as their teams face off at ROKiT Field at StubHub Center.
"Anthony's someone I've been close to my whole life," Shanahan said. "I think I was in ninth grade since I've known him. I've always kept in touch with him since he got into coaching. He's been one of the most impressive people I've been around. I know he was always one of my dad's favorite players. He was always one of my favorite people as a kid and he hasn't changed in the last 20 years. He's a person I consider a very close friend."
"It's (a) special (relationship)," Lynn said of his friendship with Shanahan. "We all grew up in the same system. Those guys were around when I was playing for their dads. I've known them all of their professional life. Those relationships are pretty special…. His dad brought me into this business as a coach. He's still a mentor to me right now. He won't talk to me much this week, but after this week maybe he will."
The pair will put their friendship aside for sixty minutes as awaiting Shanahan is a Chargers team hungry to get back to .500.
He knows the Bolts offense starts and stops with Philip Rivers. Despite 2018 being Rivers' 15th season in the league, Shanahan admitted Rivers is still competing and playing at a very high level.
"Everyone knows Philip's one of the best quarterbacks in the league, to me one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game," Shanahan remarked. "I still think Philip is underrated because I don't think people appreciate him enough on how good he is. There's a reason they're a top offense every single year, regardless of what happens. He's the man, and you have to play as good as you can. You have to be sound (because) he's going to attack you aggressively with his arm and his mind. He is going to take shots because he's not scared to fail, and you've got to stop his big plays."
On the flip side, 2018 is Derwin James' first season, but the safety is already making an impact. Aside from leading the team in numerous defensive categories, James is also the first defensive back since 1987 to record at least two sacks and one interception in his first three career games.
Shanahan isn't surprised by the rookie's impact on the Chargers defense, and knows he'll be top of mind when game planning.
"He looks exactly like what we expected. He looks like the guy at Florida State who was doing great in the passing game, doing great in the running game, going and sacking quarterbacks as a pass rusher if he had to. I thought he was one of the better players in the draft, and he's showing it already in these first three games. I think we were shocked that he was able to fall so far in the draft. You guys got a hell of a player there."