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Dolphins Coaching Search: Making the Case for Mike McDaniel

San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel is among the seven candidates who have been identified for the Miami Dolphins head-coaching opening

A little more than a week after firing head coach Brian Flores, the Miami Dolphins are very active these days interviewing candidates to become his replacement.

The Dolphins reportedly interviewed 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel via Zoom on Wednesday after talking to Bills assistants Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier in person Sunday.

The team also reportedly interviewed Dallas' two coordinators, Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore, on Thursday and turned to Vance Joseph and Thomas Brown on Friday.

As the process continues, we'll spotlight the candidates and make the case why each would represent a good hire for the Dolphins — along with a reason or two why he wouldn't.

We continue with Mike McDaniel.


-- In simple terms, Mike McDaniel is just really, really sharp. As is well documented, he went to Yale, but he's also got football acumen.

-- McDaniel is the architect of the 49ers running game, which is as big a reason as any San Francisco went to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2019 season and is in the divisional round this year after the road victory against the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round.

-- McDaniel has been surrounded by well-respected offensive minds throughout his coaching career, among them Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur, who famously were with him on the Washington coaching staff in 2013.

-- The Dolphins obviously have had their eye on McDaniel for a while, considering he interviewed for their offensive coordinator opening last offseason before the job went to Eric Studesville and George Godsey. After the interview, McDaniel was promoted to offensive coordinator by the 49ers after being the run game coordinator.

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-- The first thing that jumps out here is that McDaniel does not call the plays for the 49ers offense, that responsibility belonging to Shanahan, the 49ers head coach. So if a team hires McDaniel on the basis of his offensive acumen, the fact he hasn't called plays could be seen as a negative.

-- McDaniel has only one year of experience as an offensive coordinator, so it's fair to wonder whether he could make a seamless transition to being a head coach.

-- McDaniel will turn only 39 in March, and with any 30-something coach, one concern is the ability to put together a coaching staff.




Some quick thoughts from Grant Cohn, longtime NFL writer and publisher of SI Fan Nation sister site All 49ers:

"If you've seen him, if you've heard him, it's an even better question (why he's such a hot candidate) because he doesn't look like like a football coach. He certainly doesn't look like a head coach. And he has a tough time expressing himself. He stutters a little bit. But that being said, there's a reason why he's so hot when you get past his presentation. The substance of what he's saying is ... I mean, he's brilliant. You can tell he went to Yale and it's not just that he went to Yale. He's the architect of the 49ers run game, even more so than Kyle Shanahan. He's been with Kyle every step of the way minus a couple of years. But, like, if Kyle's Captain Kirk, then McDaniel is Spock."

"It seems like all the wrinkles that you see in the run game around the league, a lot of them originate from the 49ers. They're just little small things they do first. So that's that's why I guess teams are going to have to decide, do we need a leader, do we want a CEO-type coach whose main gift is relaying a message to players or do we want the smartest guy in the room? Sometimes the smartest guy in the room isn't the best head coach like I'm not sure John Madden was the smartest guy in the room. But I'm not betting against this guy. If the Niners were to lose him, I'd be very interested to see what their offense and run game would look like next year."

"What I would what I would suggest to the dolphins if they want (to have McDaniel), hire DeMeco Ryans. DeMeco Ryans is the defensive coordinator. He is a lot like Mike Vrabel. He played the game. He has the respect of the players. He did it at a high level like Vrabel, and he worked his way up unlike Mike Singletary. He was a quality control coach. He was a position coach, coordinator, been successful every step of the way. And I do think he has that natural leadership alpha male thing that you want from a head coach and I think DeMeco could bring McDaniel with him and say, 'Look, McDaniel here you can call plays. You don't have to be in Kyle Shanahan's shadow. It's a promotion. It's a raise, and it puts you one step closer to becoming a head coach yourself.' So that's if they want McDaniel, that's a way to do it."