As the San Francisco 49ers hit the field this Sunday, it might have been the last time Mike McDaniel would be on the sidelines. The offensive coordinator for the franchise has been on the rise as a coaching asset in 2021, and that momentum is expected to carry over into the playoffs in 2022.
McDaniel rose from Mike Shanahan’s intern to a potential coaching contender in 2022, and for good cause. While he’s become well-known on Twitter for his eccentric demeanor, his innovative approach to the run game has helped elevate the 49ers to their second NFC championship game performance in three seasons.
McDaniel started coaching in the NFL at the age of 23 as an intern with the Denver Broncos under Mike Shanahan and has since risen up the ranks with five different NFL franchises.
The Yale graduate has spent several years in the NFL working alongside Kyle Shanahan, one of the league’s finest offensive strategists who credits McDaniel with being a significant part of the 49ers’ accomplishment.
He has also been lauded by current and past players such as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, tight end George Kittle, and former Washington wide receiver Pierre Garçon.
McDaniel’s candidacy does have some significance: He has climbed through the ranks as a Shanahan method devotee, helping the 49ers establish themselves as one of the league’s top overall rushing offenses. In his first year as de facto offensive coordinator, McDaniel pulled career years out of Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert while also guiding Elijah Mitchell to a spectacular rookie season.
Miami Dolphins could be his new home
According to sources, McDaniel has interviewed with the Miami Dolphins for the position of head coach. With only five vacancies left in the franchise, potential head coaches are running out of alternatives, but McDaniel may already have a place waiting for him.
The Dolphins are “very high” on McDaniel, according to G.T Bobby Thompson, as he is presently considered the frontrunner to succeed Brian Flores as Miami’s next head coach.
If he is hired, one of McDaniel’s biggest challenges will be assisting Tua Tagovailoa in being the franchise quarterback they expected him to be after choosing him fifth overall two seasons ago.
Whoever coaches the Dolphins pick, nurturing Tua will be high on their list of initial objectives. Their offense, in general, has to improve after being 22nd in points scored.
McDaniel also appears to have a flair for bonding with his players, which may be one of the most overlooked elements general managers miss when assessing hires. His laid-back demeanor could be a pleasant respite after Flores, for whatever reason, wore down his welcome.
When Stephen Ross, Dolphins owner, talked to the media after Brian Flores’ departure, he stated that one of the reasons they were moving on from their head coach was his reluctance to communicate with others. The inconsistency of offensive coordinators, which saw three different approaches and coaches in three years, was a great example of this.
McDaniel has been working with Shanahan for a long time, and he’s indicated that their method is heavily based on cooperation.
“It’s really business as usual,” McDaniel once said in 2021. “It’s a very collaborative situation that Kyle Shanahan really creates on his coaching staff. And in that process, you have a voice and you’re part of all different phases. So now maybe I lead some collaboration among the coaching staff a little bit more, but it’s really not that different, to be honest.”