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Joe Staley says Mike McDaniel was the Wizard of Oz of the 49ers Offense

What exactly did McDaniel do for the 49ers the past five seasons, and why has his absence hurt the 49ers offense so much?
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Through three games, the 49ers have one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

It ranks 24th out of 32 teams in yards gained, and 28th in points scored. Quite a surprise, considering the 49ers offense performed well last season, and most of the players are still here.

One key person is gone, though -- former offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. He now is the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, who are 3-0, and whose offense currently ranks 13th in yards and 8th in points.

What exactly did McDaniel do for the 49ers the past five seasons, and why has his absence hurt the 49ers offense so much?

Joe Staley explained McDaniel's role on the team last year on a podcast with Rob Guerrera, who's part of the Niners Nation Podcast Network:

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"He is the Wizard of Oz for the run game," Staley said of McDaniel. "And not just the run game -- the offense. His genius comes in the construction of the plays, utilizing different players' skill sets in different situations. Kyle is an unbelievable play caller. He can piece everything together really quickly and understand the overall concept, whereas Mike McDaniel is the one who's making the picture. He's the artist that's constructing this jigsaw puzzle, and then gives it to Kyle and says, 'You're welcome.'"

Translation: McDaniel designed the plays, and Shanahan called them. Which means this season, Shanahan has an inferior menu of plays to choose from, because McDaniel is gone.

I always considered Shanahan an elite play designer, but an inconsistent play caller -- see his collapses in two Super Bowls and last season's NFC Championship. Now it seems like he isn't even an elite play designer -- McDaniel is.

So what does Shanahan do well?

I guess we'll find out as this season unfolds.