Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel Press Conference

Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel

Press Conference – October 7, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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How likely is it that QB Jimmy Garoppolo will play this week?

“Oh man. I wasn’t expecting that one, so you caught me off guard. I’ve been looking for the crystal ball. Don’t have it. What I can tell you is that Jimmy Garoppolo is one of the toughest football players I’ve ever been around. And let’s just say he hasn’t taken the week off at all. Although he hasn’t practiced, he’s done every rep that we’ve done in practice [quarterbacks coach] Rich Scangarello and [offensive passing game specialist] Bobby Slowik. Luckily for the 49ers, they’re really tired because they’ve been grinding and making sure that he’s prepared. And if he’s healthy enough to play at the level that he expects for himself, he’ll do that. But that’s between [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and Jimmy Garoppolo. So really Mike McDaniel is just prepared for everything, so much so that he’s speaking in third person.”

Speaking in the third person is a sign of preparation?

“Yes! I didn’t know that until now, but yes.”

This week has Mike McDaniel installed more QB Trey Lance specific plays into the gameplan?

“No, that’s what you try to do in the offseason is build an offensive system that flourishes everyone. Then you have specific things that are tailored to people’s skillsets, but for instance Trey Lance’s touchdown pass to [WR] Deebo Samuel, that was a play that Jimmy repped all week. So, there’s a lot of overlap.”

The long-one to Deebo?

“Yeah. And you guys have seen some plays, defenses and the way the game flows dictates, how many we’ve run. But we have a lot of stuff up every week that hasn’t been run. So it hasn’t been that different, which is why when Jimmy Garoppolo goes out and Trey Lance goes in, the rest of our players, whether the plays work or not, are decisive and you can tell it’s cohesive because it is one system, so it’s not too crazy abnormal.”

But the game plan wasn’t built for Trey. So is it sort of tough when you have two quarterbacks who do have different skillsets, to try and go into a game and balance that?

“The toughest part was in the offseason, trying to make sure that our system highlighted both players, but also allowed the rest of our players to know what to do. You can’t put in too much offense or two different offenses, otherwise you wouldn’t be good at anything and your players would be spread thin. So that was the toughest part systematically. We’ve gotten used to it where now we go into a game and we have certain plays for Trey every week, but Trey is trying to master the art of quarterback. And so, he’s working at every single play that you see Jimmy run on Sundays. Those are plays that he’s running in his mind and working with Rich Scangarello every day between periods and after practice. So, it’s really not as challenging. It was challenging, but not nearly as much as it was in the offseason.”

Pistol is what Trey mainly did at North Dakota State. And is that, I don’t want to say second nature, but is he comfortable in the pistol formation?

“As far as the techniques and the way we want to run stuff, he had done pistol, but that’s something that our offense has been working on in the offseason and you see Jimmy do it once in a while. And that’s something that you don’t just all of a sudden put in. There’s timing to everything. Every play that we run, you’re trying to be orchestrated correctly. It’s something that we’ve had in our offenses. I remember the first time we ran pistol in Washington in 2013, it was something that you realize that you have to fully commit to and work on it every day for it to be in your offense. So, we have worked on that every day with all of our quarterbacks. If you watch our opening games in Cleveland in 2014 against the Steelers, as a matter of fact, we’re doing no huddle stuff. And [New England Patriots QB] Brian Hoyer is in the pistol the whole time. It’s something that you try to orchestrate, you have different reasons to do it. And so, we didn’t necessarily bank on all the collegiate work, which wasn’t a ton. He was familiar with it but he didn’t live in it. But we really this offseason have to work on that to make sure that everyone’s on the same page and everything times out right.”

A lot of Trey’s drop backs, and it’s understandable in Week 4 of his rookie season, his background, etc. But he just looked kind of frantic and sped up, is that a fair assessment? And obviously, the more he plays will things slow down?

“Reps are important in everything in life I’ve found. But he’s 21 years old and he’s a rookie and like every other position where we’re talking about improvement and growth and we’re never satisfied. You have to get into a rhythm and sometimes you come out, if you’re first possession in basketball, you get fouled and you go to the free throw line, you might hit the front rim. You work through it. That’s something that there were plays that he was very rhythmic and there was plays that the games fast. And that’s the biggest thing, that’s why those reps, I think his first preseason game, I said, I was excited for him to fail. And he kind of gave me crap about that because he was like, ‘dang.’ It’s that you know that there’s going to be things that you’re going to, you just don’t know what the things are until it’s real live bullets. You feel there’s a comfort area in practice, but in real life bullets, there’s things that happen. And then you’re like, ‘hey, we can identify those and work on those.’ And you can actually hear what I’m saying, because now you’ve taken that in and understood directly. ‘Oh yeah, I get what you mean about pass, rush and zoning defenders and how fast things happen.’ So I think during the game he got into a rhythm, the score dictated that you saw a lot of drop back action, which I think is compounding that too. You try not to drop back and throw with any quarterback, every single play. But sometimes the score dictates that. And then, there’s a lot of plays that he looked frantic because there were some pass rush issues too. There’s a lot of compounding variables. I’m sure the next time he plays that it’ll continue to look better and better and better and that’s the whole goal. And that’s what he’s focused on.”

Was the expectation coming into the season to use Trey more like you did in that preseason finale against the Raiders? I know Shanahan said, no, he wanted the Lions to prepare for both and all that stuff, but is there an element of like you expected Trey to play more and then you had to dial it back for certain reasons once the regular season started?

“You really just wanted to give it a try because you just don’t know. You approach everything week by week and you’re trying to win a game and you’re saying, ‘okay, what advantage does this give us, what doesn’t?’ And you’re trying not to predict the future because you don’t know the way things are going to play out with the defenses that you’re going against. So, you want to be prepared if you need to do that. And that doesn’t mean that that’s not going to happen ever again. But we wanted our players to feel that. And we’ve been bit plenty of times. I’m sure you guys are familiar, we have injuries once in a while. And so, we don’t want to sit here, like last year in Week 2 in 2020 or whatever year that was, in Week 2, we lost our starting quarterback. And you see directly how that affects the team. And so, you want the team to be prepared. Kyle is sitting there looking at it like, ‘Hey, we want to give Detroit something to think about. And maybe down the road, I want to do this.’ And you don’t want the first time that you ever do it to be, ‘oh yeah. It’s the game on the line, division game against the Arizona Cardinals. We’re 2-2, they’re 4-0. Yeah. Let’s just try this.’ So, nothing in that game and nothing that Trey’s done has deviated. It’s just been, ‘hey, what gives us the best chance to win.’ I prepare for everything to happen. And Kyle says, ‘okay, we’re going this way.’ And I say, ‘how fast’.”

You talked about the art of quarterbacking that Trey is trying to attempt to learn. In terms of the art of improvisation, off-schedule plays, his skillset, obviously, lends itself to it. How comfortable are you as coaches with him deviating off of everything you guys have planned?

“It’s funny because you, as a coach, you’re kind of a product of your environment. And you get used to plays, needing to be on schedule for them to be good plays. So you adjust as a coach. When you, have a skillset such as Trey’s, you have to remind yourself, ‘hey, it’s okay if it goes off schedule because we’re in a bottom line business and did it get yards or score points.’ So it is an adjustment for us, but it’s a very quick and easy adjustment. You just have to keep reminding yourself because you do usually think through a scope of, ‘hey if number two or three isn’t open, our guy just got hit.  So it better be open.’ And then all of a sudden, you’re like, ‘oh yeah, it’s okay if somebody breaks the pocket.’ So that was an adjustment. We felt it in the game, but then you’re like, ‘okay, we just got a first down.’ So you just end up adjusting to whatever, same as every other position, good, bad, or equal.”

This is not meant as a snarky question, but for my curiosity, how do you recognize, or like the throw back with RB Jacques Patrick, did you know something in his background or did you see him throwing in practice where you say, okay?

“Yeah, when I was evaluating his middle-school tape, I was like, ‘yep.’ No, that’s something that you’re looking at an opponent, you have a reason to do it, and then you say, ‘okay, who can do it?’ And then you kind of do a tryout amongst the position, see who does it the best and then you try to put them in pressure situations in practice and see how they hold up. Kyle’s great at putting pressure on people. And so, we had confidence in it because he made sure that he could throw from point A to point B, which he did. And that was the biggest thing. The end result wasn’t exactly what we’d wanted, but the reason to do it and why we wanted to do it, we were happy with the end result and that was something that we worked on. What you do is you end up doing that early in the week and then rep the play numerous times because you don’t want to do a disservice to all other 10 players and the player himself. You don’t want him to all of a sudden, he goes out there in a national football game and is on Sports Centers Not Top 10, because he triple-bounced it.”

So it took several seasons to get full confidence and command of the offense. Where do you feel Trey Lance is and his progress of getting of the offense?

“I feel like he’s in the boat with a lot of rookies, in terms of you’re looking at him and you’re like, ‘this isn’t the end result.’ I think every day he shows us that he’s wise beyond his years, much more mature than I was at his age. I can tell you that much. Very, very smart. And as far as expectations, we expected him to be a rookie who threw 300 and some odd passes in college. But you know what, in an NFL football game this season, he’s had more two-minute reps than he’s had his entire college career. I’m not sure if you guys know, but he’s really good at winning football games in high school and college, so he was never behind. Just knowing that on the front end, you know there’s going to be a lot of things to grow on. And he knows that as well, which is why when bad things happen he doesn’t blink. He had an incompletion on a four-yard throw and then throws a 76-yard touchdown pass. You know that there’s going to be some hiccups along the road. You accept that. But you just try to do the best you can and continue to improve. That’s the biggest thing, you just don’t want to regress. You want to find a thing, improve on it, fix it, go to the next thing. And he’s hungry enough to keep doing that, which is why we’re pumped to have him.”