Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel Press Conference

Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel

Press Conference – January 27, 2022

San Francisco 49ers

Listen to Audio I Media Center

Regarding WR Deebo Samuel, I realize he’s not getting like 20 carries a game, but playing running back in the NFL is not good for your career lifespan. I’m just wondering, did you guys ever have to have like a conversation of here’s what could happen? Here’s what this might look like? Not that you had to get him to sign off on it, I guess, but did you have the conversation to make sure he was up for what might be ahead?

“Well as we talked about before, this is uncharted territory for all of us, the coaching staff and the player. And it’s something that you kind of feel your way through. No, I mean to be honest, Deebo just wants to ball. And he views himself as a leader of the team and he is a competitive guy that really wants to win and he thinks that he can help the team win every time he touches it. I think that one of the things that makes him great is how he’s fearless, but he doesn’t take huge hits all the time. I think that yes, running backs do take shots, but football players, if they play the right way, can take hits in a certain way that doesn’t hurt them. I think he’s built for it. And if you would’ve asked us before we had got to this point with Deebo Samuel, would it be smart to give a receiver you know, 8, 9, 10 carries a game like we have the last couple weeks? Yeah, you’d probably get some resistance, but this is a different player. He’s not a receiver. He’s a football player at the receiver position who also can play running back and we treat him as such and he would have it no other way.”

When you look back at QB Jimmy Garoppolo when he got here in 2017, how have you seen him evolve as a leader?

“It’s been really cool and the whole process, when you get new players, you get a small version of themselves and over time, it’s one of the things that makes team sports and particularly NFL football, so special is you grow together and learn more about human beings. Like most people, you are your best self when you’re most confident. He’s his most confident when he has the most ownership. And he’s been in big situations before and Jimmy’s really cool because what a lot of people wouldn’t know is more than a lot of quarterbacks have been around. He is a football player at the quarterback position. I don’t know the exact details, but I know when he started playing football, he was a linebacker. And on gameday, he has a fire about him that as he is more confident and he expects more of himself, guys feed off that and it’s organic. It’s not, ‘Hey, come on guys.’ It’s more like, ‘Let’s go.’ And guys respond to that and it’s been awesome to watch him through that process.”

Head coach Kyle Shanahan’s talked a lot about how one of the important ingredients in building the team is just getting as many guys as possible who really love football. I’m curious just from a psychological perspective, when you get a bunch of guys like that as individuals, and you put them into a group that forms a team, how does that manifest and help a football team on gamedays?

“It’s addicting. It really reminds you why you got in the business. I almost got chills right now, you saying that because you’ve got a shared passion. A group of men that are relying on each other for a common goal. And when you love football you feed off each other and all of a sudden Wednesday’s install isn’t as hard. You’re tired on a Thursday afternoon and you look over and you see a teammate leaving it all out there. Whether it’s a player or a coach, just straining to be their best selves. It’s impossible for not to motivate you and push you through and this team in particular, win, lose or draw, every week. It’s one of the most memorable teams of my career because we’ve gone through hardships, we’ve gone through successes and we really work the same way every week, week in and week out. And I think it’s critical to a team’s success over the long term, because football is imperfect. Football is like life. It’s about resiliency. It’s not about if you’re going to mess up, it’s about when you do, how do you respond? And that’s all this team does. And it’s to credit the organization to allow that to manifest. For an organization to have one vision, that’s the only way that could happen. And then coach Shanahan and [general manager] John Lynch really emphasizing that because you get what you emphasize and if that’s not an important part of your puzzle, that doesn’t exist. And I think that’s one of the reasons you see energy that’s real, week in and week out. Not just in our wins, but when we lose. I don’t think people are ever left, like, ‘Wow, those guys didn’t try this week.’ We play good football, we play bad football, but it is an enjoyable process and you’re willing to live with any of the results if everyone’s shared in their commitment.”

I think this question is somewhat related to that response, but I remember when OL Colton McKivitz was drafted, the front office saying that he got the rare gold helmet status before the draft. I’m just wondering whether you’ve kind of seen that manifest itself in him and how he’s practiced and how he handled himself in that Week 18 game?

“That’s good intel. Are you in our draft room? Do you have a nanny cam? Yeah, I think you can really see that again, kind of like we were talking about Jimmy. You don’t rush to judgment, you let people’s personalities come out and Colton’s a little quieter, but super dry sense of humor. And very serious about the sport of football. And yeah, I think what you see is that he had really good plays, he had some bad plays when he played. But the biggest thing is he stepped in for as good as a player that exists and we weren’t talking about him. We weren’t worried about him all game. As an offensive lineman, it’s kind of like referees at times, no news is good news. And for us to be able to operate at a high level against, I’m just telling you this is as good of a pass rush and as big of a challenge. If you want to have a heart attack, go line up against all their pass rushers and oh yeah, do it for the first time that you’re playing all year. That’s a tough task. And I think that gold helmet, that person, the human being, you see what people are made of, what they’ve been doing behind closed doors. How they’ve been approaching their craft while they’re on scout team. There’s nowhere to hide in the game of football and we, saw, hey, he’s been taking care of his business and growing, the last time we played the Rams.”

Kyle spoke to us a little bit about T Trent Williams in motion behind the line and how scary he is when he is back there. Deebo Samuel is a guy who loves to have multiple positions. Trent Williams seems like he’s very willing also to step up in different ways. What have you seen from him and how scary is he back there when he is running in motion?

“Have you ever been on the street when a car is driving at you? Yeah, it’s scary. It’s cool, just because it doesn’t exist. I just haven’t seen that and there’s not a man that that moves that fast with that much power. It’ cool to watch how big he is and how fast he is, but when he watched that play specifically, his assignment was to set the edge in the d-gap right between the two tight ends. And there was like a sliver this big, and our tight ends and fullbacks have been doing that for a couple years now. And even they were like, ‘This is his first rep? Wow.’ It tells you a lot about how slow the game is for him and how talented he is at the game of football, not just being athletic. So it is it was a cool thing to be a part of. That’s another reflection of how much our football team likes playing football that when we first practiced that play on whatever it was, Thursday night last week, the defense is watching the scout team defense go, the starting defense is, and we ran the play for the first time and there was probably a buzz for the next five plays. Like, wow. And that’s a testament to our football team in general and how they love to play football, which is why we all get excited to play. Not because we absolutely can predict that we’re going to win this, that or whatever. No, because we know that, what is better than collectively working through months of uncharted, unforeseen circumstances, you don’t know how it’s going end, but you do it together. And you know that everyone’s fully committed to it. So guess what? On Sunday, the Rams are going to get a best shot. They’re one of the best football teams in the world. But how fun is that to just say, ‘Okay, let’s go give it our best shot. And we feel like we can play and beat anybody.’ But guess what? So do the Rams. So it’s awesome to be a part of. It’s the coolest thing in sports and it’s why professional football and specifically, the championship games are so cool.”

Obviously, those guys down there, those coaches with the Rams, they know you. They know kind of how you go through the process with your successful plays, setting up other successful plays. So how far down that rabbit hole do you go of, ‘Hey, this is what we’ve done. The first two games. These are all the things we could do off of it, but they might be thinking along those lines too.’ Do you play that, you know that they know kind of game?

“We know that they know, that you know, that we know. No, it’s a good question because that used to be a bigger deal I think to all of us on both sides. And we do know each other so well, we’ve both been on the same side of the ball. People forget that the defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was a wide receiver coach in Atlanta, under Kyle Shanahan. And I worked with him in the receiver room. So there’s a lot of overlap, but you play enough games that you realize that you can talk yourself in and out, this way or that way. And really, it’s just about getting our players ready to play. And this game isn’t about who’s the smartest or who’s got the best tricks up their sleeve. This is something that both teams have been preparing for the entire season. So it’s about the players going out and playing together. And the third time you play a team and you’re in the NFC Championship, it’s a little easier than it used to be in our careers when we first were playing each other. Now it’s a little old hat.”

When you guys are debating what plays to call, what’s that communication like while you’re up in the box and Kyle’s down on the field when you’re in a dilemma and you’re trying to predict how the defense is going to go. What kind of communication is there between you two and then specifically during that timeout before Deebo’s third down run before the field goal, did you weigh in on that with Kyle as well?

“One of the best parts of working for Kyle for so long is it’s twofold. He expects good information from me. He expects that if I tell him something that it is the most informed information that I could possibly have. But, he also knows, and this is something that he’s very candid about that, ‘Hey, whatever your suggestion is, ultimately, I’m saying the play to the quarterback and I’m responsible for the outcome.’ So it’s an awesome working relationship that’s very healthy in that way, because he knows my intentions, just like any other coach on the staff when they’re suggesting something. And then you’re also trying to just help the team and collectively make the right decision. He’s responsible for every single play call. And guess what, after the game he’s answering to you guys about why’d you do that and never once has he ever said ‘Well, yeah, it was Mike’s stupid idea.’ But some of them were. That’s awesome leadership It’s one of the reasons guys enjoy working here and working for him. Generally, the play calls that work, I only try to suggest plays that work. Again, we’re talking about stuff, but it is his play call, but he looks at it as his and I look at it like, ‘Hey, I better be right,’ because I know that he’s trusting me whenever I do suggest something. All of which are just a communal– we’re just trying to win a game and whoever makes a suggestion, it doesn’t matter. It’s just hard. This business, it’s a hard sport. Not fun when you lose. Really fun when you win, no gray. So we’re just trying to win games and doing whatever it takes. And Kyle’s the best play caller I think that exists and it’s awesome to work for him.”