Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel Press Conference
Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel
Press Conference – December 9, 2021
San Francisco 49ers
WR Jauan Jennings has been a very big part of the offense, blocking, passing, etc. over the last several weeks, what have you seen from him that’s helped him to make these strides this season?
“Growth, he’s grown as a player. The thing about professional football is that it is a legitimate transition from being a student athlete, to being a pro. You have guys that you’re playing with that have been doing it for a decade. Where this is what you live and breathe, and there’s an adjustment period. So having the injury last year was tough on him, but what I think the whole team has seen is a guy that’s developing his ability to be a professional football player and approach each week and each opponent in a way that the rest of his teammates can count on. It is a full-time job. These guys get one day off and everything they do between or in front and behind that day off is either to do with their body or to get ready for an opponent. And he’s done a great job taking advantage of an opportunity that he’s received this year.”
When you guys resigned T Trent Williams in the offseason, head coach Kyle Shanahan said something to the effect that you guys had plans to use him in different ways. Obviously maybe throwing a pass here and there is part of that, but in terms of blocking, what is it about his skillset that maybe allows you to do that and how does that kind of manifest?
“Well, it’s about as easy as it gets for a coach. I think if you polled the league’s coaches and players, Trent is a very unique player at his position in that he’s been probably the best athlete for about a decade at the position. He’s one of the only guys that I’ve ever been around that could legitimately play defensive line at a high level as an O-Lineman. Typically, they’re just not that type of athlete. I think coming out, he ran like a 4.7 or a 4.8 and he was 325 or something crazy. But on top of that, what people don’t realize, is that Trent is very mindful about his craft. He is very crafty in the game and it means a lot to him. He’s very prideful and all of that stuff makes it very easy to utilize him at the point of attack. And you start realizing, ‘Oh, we could down block here, pull here,’ which you’ve seen. The football enthusiasts have seen his game grow within our offense a little bit because of that, because we’re all growing together as coaches and players. Unparalleled talent in conjunction with a guy that it means a lot to, that is trying to be the best of the best each and every day. That’s meant a lot for our team and allowed us to do a lot of cool things with him this season and we’ll hopefully continue to do.”
I’m assuming you’ve never been able to say that about a tackle like, ‘We could game plan new things for him to do.’ What is that like for you then? Like how much fun is it to think of things a whole different way based on what he can do?
“It’s awesome for the whole staff. It just opens your mind. You just have different options. ‘Oh, hey, there’s this wide defensive technique or a tight one, if we need to cut a guy off if there’s an extremely good player. Okay. Let’s run right.’ We have that option when we’re playing really good players, which you see almost every week. It is really cool. You feel spoiled because there’s been time between our stints and we’ve had very good players, been very fortunate to have very good players at that position, but there is only one Trent Williams. So you try not to take it for granted because you know your time with him is limited and you want to take best advantage of it.”
On George Kittle’s second touchdown, the one down the sideline, when you guys do your film review Monday where you go over some plays, obviously there was a lot of bad plays to go over, but that was a pretty exceptional one. Just kind of what was the reaction from that? Or what was your reaction when you saw it on film?
“Oh, it was an exciting moment. It was cool to see George feel that he had that extra gear. I think you guys heard it during the week. He took Seahawks week very personal. Wanted to do everything in his power to will us to victory. Wins and losses, they drive our livelihood for sure. But you also are very careful to not only celebrate good plays when you win. You have to have a standard with how you operate. And there’s a lot of things that factor into a win or a loss. So we use those clips, especially that. That was a great team clip. If you go rewatch it, Jauan Jennings and [WR] Brandon Aiyuk both make fantastic plays and Kittle takes advantage of it. That’s the type of team ball that when we win games, we win because of stuff like that. So you don’t lose sight of that at all. Yeah, you always want to win. But the biggest thing is that you use every circumstance to try to make your team better moving forward, because the fact of the matter is, we’re in December and we’re playing meaningful football. And that’s really what you work for from February on. We have everything you want right in front of us, so you don’t let losing lose sight of that. We’re on to the next, we’re playing the Cincinnati Bengals and hopefully we have some more plays like that from George and from his teammates.”
The Bengals, this might get too much into scheme, but how do they usually cover tight ends? And I’m asking that since they’re down a few linebackers. I know linebackers or safeties, a lot of different people can cover George.
“The Bengals, they do a really good job. And one of the things that they do a great job of is there’s not one way that they try to defend things. Their game plan specific. We know that and they have various types of zones and man coverages and situationally, we’ll see both. And it’s just all about the timing of plays called and what our players do within those plays. He’ll have his opportunities to touch the ball in some way, shape or form. I think he’s excited for that. I think they’re very mindful of the fact that he is an explosive player, so I’m sure they’ll have things that we haven’t seen, which is kind of par for the course. And especially with the Bengals, they give stuff to opposing offenses each and every week that’s a little different. And they do a good job up with it.”
The Bengals have been much better against the run than the pass this year. You guys obviously like to use the run to open up the passing game. How does that maybe affect your guys game plan at all?
“They’ve done an outstanding job defending the run. I think they have put in multiple fronts and coverages and their defense plays hard. So you try to go into the game, giving your players the most information and the best information possible. You try to say, ‘Okay, this is what they do,’ and give them tools and the game will play out as it will. If they want to overplay things and overplay the run game, you have to make them pay in the pass game and vice versa. But the biggest thing is that you just get guys to be prepared for who they’re playing against. So they’re not caught off guard in the moment on Sunday, because that’s a little too late. So in terms of preparation, we still have the same amount of runs and passes we typically have in a gameplan. And I think our guys believe that they can run and pass the ball and we’ll try to do both at a high level on Sunday.”
How big of a problem, I guess literally, is Cincinnati Bengals DT D.J. Reader?
“He’s a big, problem.”
Is he actually 347?
“I would check the scales. It might be close to that. He’s just doing a really good job. Whatever he is, he’s a big man that’s in shape. So he’s not a big man that’s overweight. He’s playing at a high level. And he can run laterally and do a lot of things and make plays for them. He is an issue, it doesn’t take long for him to jump off tape and know that you have internal issues that come with that.”
On the tight rope touchdown, it seemed like Jauan was deeper than George, he was open too. What were you thinking at the point, watching up high, as that play is developing? Did you think that that ball should have gone to Jauan or, obviously it worked out great, but what’s the right read on that one?
“No, George was first in progression. They were kind of tight because the weakside defender kind of grabbed George and kind of, in a football legal fashion, kind of grabbed him. And so there was a moment in time where like, ‘Hey, this might be Jauan’s ball,’ but George was number one in progression and Jimmy layered in nice. And the best part of it was both other eligibles that were running routes in that direction. Jauan and Aiyuk, didn’t hesitate at all. They transitioned and tried to block for their teammate, which coach Shanahan does a great job in team meetings and in offensive meetings, making sure that everyone never loses sight of, ‘Okay, George is having success on this play, but look what it took by the whole unit for him to show off his athletic prowess.’ It wasn’t done on his own and we wouldn’t have ever seen the tight rope if both of those eligibles hadn’t immediately transitioned and tried to block for a touchdown that George had about out this much room to get to and he did it.”