The Miami Dolphins have hired San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel to serve as the team’s next head coach. McDaniel will be given a four-year contract, according to reports. This hiring comes in the wake of former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the team and the NFL, claiming racial discrimination in hiring practices. McDaniel’s hiring follows a trend in the NFL, according to Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.
“I think this follows a trend that’s going on in the National Football League right now,” said Tomlinson. “These young offensive minded coaches, getting head coaching jobs. We’ve seen it over the past few years and now Mike follows in that same path.”
McDaniel is 38 and comes from the Mike Shanahan coaching tree. He began his NFL career as an intern for the Denver Broncos in 2005 under Shanahan, then spent three seasons as an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans. He spent another three seasons as an offensive assistant and a wide receivers coach for Washington — on a staff that included current head coaches Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers, Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams and Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers.
This is McDaniel’s first job as a head coach at any level and he’s only served as an offensive coordinator for one season. Maybe he’ll be a good hire; maybe we won’t. Only time will provide an answer.
McDaniel identifies as multiracial and the NFL counts him among its minority head coaching hires, joining Mike Tomlin, Ron Rivera and Robert Saleh as the league’s only minority head coaches. The 49ers will receive two third-round draft selections (one in 2022 and another in ’23, per a league spokesman) as compensation under the Rooney Rule for developing a minority assistant who was hired for an NFL head-coaching job.
The NFL’s track record on diversity is extremely poor and we will see what, if anything, the pending Flores lawsuit does to change that reality. But McDaniel’s lack of head coaching experience and time as a coordinator are noteworthy.
Tomlinson went on to say that McDaniel’s age might allow him to relate better to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and some of the other younger players. Flores is 40. Are those two years that significant in interpersonal relationships?
As it relates to McDaniel’s offensive mind, it is true that the league trend is to hire young offensive coordinators. The league has been trending in an offensive direction for a couple of decades now. How good is McDaniel? How bright is his offensive mind?
We have nothing to measure that per se.
Last season, the 49ers had the league’s seventh-best offense in terms of yards per game and produced an All-Pro in wide receiver Deebo Samuel. They were fifth in total offensive DVOA, fifth in pass DVOA and fifth in run DVOA.
Was that all due to McDaniel? Maybe some. But it’s hard to say all.
The likelihood is that McDaniel will be given every opportunity to prove that he is a great head coach. Too bad Flores and others like him around the league aren’t afforded the same opportunity.
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