San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is particular about hats. Like Bill Belichick with his hoodies, Shanahan has become known for wearing wide, flat-brimmed caps that make him look like someone who grew up surfing and skateboarding in Denver and possibly named his son after Lil Wayne. (Shanahan did both of these things.) But it seems one such hat, a persimmon-red trucker hat with a postage-stamp-sized 49ers logo that looks a lot like the sort of thing you could pick up at your local craft brewery—and better known to fans as the “Shanahat”—may have to stay off the field this year.
“I have such beef with [the league] right now,” Shanahan said, speaking on Bay Area station KNBR 680’s “Murph & Mac” show on Wednesday. “It’s a tough issue going on. They won’t let me pick out my own. They won’t let me wear any one that’s from a [previous] year, so I can’t wear, like, an older one. I’ve got to wear the new ones that they give this year.”
The trick, he continued, is that, “Unfortunately, there’s none I like wearing,” he said. (As SFGate points out, who exactly “they” are was left unclear.) “I don’t want to go too hard and get fined or anything but trust me, I’m upset about it.”
Normally the question of coaching headwear wouldn’t be such a big deal: very few NFL coaches seem to care much about what they wear. But Shanahan—who, at 42, is among the younger coaches in the league—custom-designed his hats with New Era, which is contracted as the official on-field cap licensee for the NFL a few years back. He detailed the process on the “Chris Simms Unbuttoned” podcast in 2020, at which point the coach’s hat rotation had become something of a pet interest for the Niners fanbase.
“The problem was, I never wore hats during games much because I just didn’t like how the hats worked,” said Shanahan, adding that when he’s off-duty, he usually wears hats like the one he sported during the interview, which was from the surf brand Hurley. “But when I went to New Era and they were asking why we didn’t wear them, I was wearing one like this, and they said, ‘Well, you could design one.’ So they flipped the laptop around, and they let me kind of design one. And I picked out a logo, and I kept shrinking it. I made it a netted hat, and obviously I got a flat bill and stuff. I just made it like a hat that I like to wear.”
New Era produced a run of hats specifically for Shanahan. The extras up for sale in the Niners gift shop, where they swiftly sold out. Shanahan has worn a few different hats since then, sometimes out of superstition, but surely the league behind the curtain has licensing consistencies to keep in mind. The 49ers, meanwhile, kick off their preseason schedule tonight. We’ll have our eyes trained on the home team sideline.