The LaFleur family is a house divided this week.
With Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur and San Francisco 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur facing off in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday, parents Denny and Kristi LaFleur will be celebrating with one son and consoling another after the game.
One thing is certain, however: The LaFleurs will be in Miami the first weekend in February.
"Well, I know they’re going to the Super Bowl one way or the other," Matt said Thursday, via ESPN.
Matt LaFleur also knows that his family will be torn Sunday on who to root for.
"It’s mixed emotions," Matt said of his parents. "It is what it is. It certainly was last time, too. Anybody that knows me knows how much my family means to me — my brother, my parents and my wife and kids. It is an emotional deal, but this is not about us. This is about the Green Bay Packers versus the San Francisco 49ers, two great football teams, with the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. It doesn’t get any bigger than that."
It’s easy for a coach to dive into work, rest on clichés and ignore the man on the other sideline for 60 minutes. It’s quite different for a family sitting in the stands dealing with the emotional roller coaster.
"To get to where they are at is difficult, and they got there and you’ve got to celebrate the accomplishments that they’ve had," mother Kristi told The Adam Schefter Podcast this week. "Somebody is going to lose, but they still need to celebrate what has been accomplished."
In November’s contest between the Niners and Packers in Santa Clara, which ended in a 37-8 loss for Green Bay, Matt LaFleur’s two sons and daughters stayed at younger brother Mike’s house. For the rematch, they’ll be staying home.
"I think there’s a little different vibe," LaFleur said. "I’ll just leave it at that. I haven’t really talked to (Matt) much at all. It’ll probably be that way for the remainder of the week."
The coaching staffs provide deep similarity and knowledge of one another, even beyond the sibling relationship. Matt LaFleur spent three seasons with current 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan on a Washington staff that was, unbeknownst to the Redskins’ brass at the time apparently, a super-staff under Mike Shanahan. And Matt LaFleur was Shanahan’s QB coach again for two years in Atlanta from 2015-2016. Needless the say, the sibling rivalry won’t be the only one heating up Sunday.
"There’s a lot of great coaches over there," LaFleur said. "Kyle Shanahan, Mike McDaniel, Bobby Turner — I’ve worked with all those guys — Jon Embree. I could go on and on and on. I have a lot of respect for their ability to dissect the tape and come up with a good game plan. I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve lived it with those guys.
"I know they’re going to have stuff ready for us. It’s on us to go out there and make sure that we’re disciplined in our approach defensively and that we trust what we see, we trust our preparation, and then, ultimately, it’s going to go down to execution."
When Matt was hired in Green Bay, Kyle Shanahan blocked him from hiring away younger brother Mike to join the Packers. Notably leaving his brother off the list of praise, Matt quipped:
"First of all, who said he’s a great coach? I never said that," he said joking.
It’s easy to joke the week before the game. It will be simple to concentrate on their jobs Sunday. But after the tilt, one man will be elated to bring his team to the Super Bowl, while the other will be left with a bitter feeling of disappointment.
It could be worse for the LaFleur family. Both brothers could already be knocked out of the postseason.
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