Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel Press Conference
Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel
Press Conference – November 18, 2021
San Francisco 49ers
On the fourth-and-six play, I was hoping you could describe if QB Jimmy Garoppolo is throwing to a spot there rather than to WR Deebo Samuel per se. And is that a trust play with anticipation for that ball to be there in that tight window for them to make that play?
“That’s a cool question because that’s kind of how your pass game, you want it to be. There’s a rhythm and timing to everything. And that’s why you’re working on the same concepts from OTAs on, is so that you can have the ability to hit someone out of the break like that. So with Jimmy and Deebo, they’re very comfortable with that particular play specifically. And that’s something that in the pass game you have zoning players and you have two people distributed and you can just read the defender. Jimmy knows that if a guy doesn’t move too far one way, he can deliver that ball. So that was execution at its finest in a pivotal moment, which is a lot of hours put between them and really our whole offense in general. And that’s what it looks like when it’s done right.”
Head coach Kyle Shanahan described having Deebo in the backfield as, one point he said after the game, it was a different way of doing the same thing, which basically was sort of running the ball. Is that kind of the key to running the ball when a team knows you’re going to run it anyway, is to give different looks to accomplish the same goal?
“A little bit, there’s definitely some truth to that. You’re very aware of what you’ve put on tape, the plays that you have done going into that game, so trying to guess what the defensive coaches are alerting their players. But also a big part of it is the LA [Los Angeles] Rams defense. They have the [Denver Broncos head coach] Vic Fangio, [Los Angeles Chargers head coach] Brandon Staley tree that [Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator] Raheem Morris is doing an excellent job with. They have like seven different defensive personnel groups that they’ll play to any one of your personnel groups. When you have multiplicity like that, it’s hard to get 11 players to see it all the same way. So one way that we’ve found to do that as best we can is what if you do the same play with multiple people so that half your team can get organized with all these moving parts and then with the defense it’s not as predictable to them. Some of it had to do with, yeah, it would be cool, but there’s a good portion of it that’s just getting the whole offense on the same page to handle the defensive looks that we’re getting.”
Deebo has said that he learned recently, or in the last couple of years, what he needs to do physically and mentally to be an elite receiver. When did you see that mental shift from him?
“It started in not application, but guys only know what they know. You don’t know what you don’t know. And [Buffalo Bills WR] Emmanuel Sanders coming here for half the season was a big deal for him because he was a guy that’s been in the league for 10 years and understood what it means to be a pro. And the rigors of the NFL season are brutal, they get one true day off. A lot of them have to do things for their body on that day, but it’s six months of grind. So you saw the beginning elements of that and who knows what it would’ve looked like last year, had he not gotten injured. So we didn’t really get a total vantage point of where he was at. This year training camp, August, we saw it in practice. I think he was looking around and saying, ‘Okay, well, who’s going to get everyone going?’ It’s kind of me and since maybe right when preseason games started going and he had a couple outings in the preseason he wasn’t too fired up about, he’s really put his foot on the gas and he hasn’t looked back.”
A staple of your offense has been under center and play action and the quarterback turns his back to the defense. And that obviously causes problems for the defense. It’s hard for the quarterback as well. You guys have gone far more shotgun, almost exclusively the last three weeks. Why the change?
“Well, I think one thing that I know Kyle’s always prided himself on, and we as a staff, challenge yourself to do things that fit your player skillsets and what makes them most comfortable. You try to avoid, ‘Well, we’ve always done it this way.’ So you’re evolving to whatever your player skillsets are. And as you spend more time with them and learn the ins and outs of how they play you recognize, ‘Well, Jimmy’s a lot more decisive in the gun. He likes to see it while he’s delivering tight window throws.’ So how do we implement that more without losing the greatest advantage you have offensively, which is you know the play and they don’t. So minimizing pass exclusive situations, which on first and second down, you can do if you have the threat of run out of gun. And we’ve just kind of evolved. Kyle in 2019, really started noticing that and put pressure on us to evolve our gun run package. And every week you figure out different ways to do some of the same things, maybe a couple of wrinkles. But keep the defense honest without being pass exclusive in any situation other than third-and-six plus, or whatever.”
Has there been a certain tipping point because, obviously, Jimmy didn’t just get here and it’s been a rather stark difference. Was there like a specific– has Jimmy had input on that or?
“No, it’s funny. I’m trying to think, now that you say something and I’ve heard that we probably have been in gun more, but it’s something that we really evolved to implementing a ton of it in the 2019 season and in training camp, almost every play we have under center or in gun. So it also has to do with the running backs. We’ve been playing with younger backs lately because of various circumstances. And the one thing about college football is a lot of it’s out of shotgun. So then you start learning your rookies, which is a constant process. And you’re like, ‘Wow, they, they are a little more comfortable right now doing that.’ So a lot goes into it, but it wasn’t a conscious decision. It just kind of evolves. You’re looking at a play, ‘Okay. What are the ramifications if we’re in gun? Okay, well, they’re the defensive tackles get wider because they are playing pass rush. How do you take advantage of that? Okay we don’t want to do that, or maybe we do.’ It’s something that’s kind of organic. It’s not something that we’re doing just because we made an absolute. It’s play by play really and fitting our scheme to the needs of our players.”
Is there an advantage to running out of the gun?
“There can be there, in terms of, first and foremost, can you have accurate snaps? That’s the first way to blow a play up is if the quarterback can’t handle the football. Typically, there are some disadvantages in terms of where backers can play and whether or not they have to play the front side that much, but that’s something that we’ve put a lot of time in to make sure that, ‘Hey, if they are overplaying our offset gun, how do we make them pay?’ That’s something that is really the lens we approach every play and every scenario is what does the defense do to take this away or make it worse? Okay then so we need to work on something to take advantage of that.”
Jacksonville has been pretty stout against the run. Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry broke a hundred on them and Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor did last week, but he only got like six yards in the second half I think. What do you notice from them in terms of why they’re good at it?
“They’re very well coached. Very prideful defense. You see a team that plays very hard and they’re very sound. That speaks to what you’re referencing. There’s not a lot of explosive runs on them because they were playing a team defense and you can tell they pride themselves on that. So you’re not going to get free yardage here or there, you’re going to have to earn it. So that’s the new challenge this week. There’s always various challenges. They are a great group, a lot of really good players, but man, they do not take downs off and you can tell they do not like run plays going for more than six, seven yards. They tighten up and they really try to make sure that if you’re going to get yards, you’re going to earn it.”