Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel Press Conference
Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel
Press Conference – September 9, 2021
San Francisco 49ers
“It’s good to be in the regular season again and coaching football and getting ready to play games.”
We’ve been asking head coach Kyle Shanahan a lot over the last couple weeks who’s going to be the starting quarterback. Did you get a sense behind the scenes how he was really amused by those questions?
“Yeah, I’d watch the press conferences, not in person, but I’d watch it after the fact. And I think it came across the same to me. We didn’t really talk about it, but it is funny the little banter you guys have going on. But that’s normal I think.”
How do you, when you start to gameplan for an opponent when you talk about the use of the quarterbacks, how much is it what QB Trey Lance is ready for and how much of it is just the specific matchup against the defense?
“Yeah, I think that’s really all of it in terms of you’re balancing all of that. You want players to go out there when they’re ready and able to perform well, but you’re also putting players in. One week we might run two tight ends, a fullback and one receiver on the field a bunch. You’re trying to create a competitive advantage with your team and quarterback like running back, like offensive line, we look at it all the same. We just happen to have depth at multiple positions including quarterback on this team. So you’re always looking at what’s the best thing for the team and approaching it through that lens and both player and the defensive scheme are incorporated in that.”
How do you start that process of passing along your thoughts to Kyle? How much do you need to know about the condition of the finger and what he can and can’t do?
“You try to approach it like both things can happen. Just like today we have to approach tomorrow like ‘hey, you might have an injury setback’, so you can’t pigeonhole yourself in one direction or the other. You just make yourself really available to do whatever it takes with whatever is available to you. You don’t have a crystal ball to look at injuries. You’re one hit away, one snap away from not being able to play. So you can’t really pigeonhole yourself in any direction. You just try to give the play caller tools in his toolbox and go from there.”
Is it challenging having a player Trey’s ability and your role in sort of drawing up a play or a run scheme based around what he can do?
“Oh, for sure. I think it’s really cool for our entire offensive staff. We all have a lot of history together. And we’ve been on multiple different teams together. Offensive line coach, running back coach, it goes down the line. And it is exciting and fun when you can approach things with more of an open lens and you’re really not hamstrung in one direction or the other. It’s a challenge too because there’s only so many reps for everything. So you kind of have to be smart with what direction you go and how much you commit to one thing or the other. But it’s a challenge for the defense, it’s challenge for the offense, it’s whoever does it better.”
You were a part of that group in 2012 in Washington with former NFL QB Robert Griffin III. Do you go back to that?
“Oh, for sure. That was a big transition in all of our careers because, at that point in time, none of us on our staff had any experience with any quarterback zone-read stuff. At the time of the league, I think we were studying [former NFL QB] Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos that was about the only team that was doing it. And nobody was doing out of the pistol. So at a very cool part of my career, you learned, ‘okay, well let’s think outside the box and do things that make sense and are sound’. And [offensive line coach] Chris Foerster, our offensive line coach, was a big part of that. [running backs coach] Bobby Turner [Jr.], a lot of guys on the staff now were back in Washington in 2012 in that process.”
There are so many more options if you have both Trey and QB Jimmy Garoppolo. How important and how valuable has it been to have C Alex Mack at that center position with his knowledge being able to lock down the offensive line?
“I just love people that appreciate the O-Line and what really goes down there. You’re exactly right. It’s a great benefit to have an experienced and established, quality player at the center position, like any other position. And when you have multiple schemes, the center is the quarterback of the offensive line, dictating all the calls. So when you have confidence in your calls you can get everyone on the same page. And that’s really all you’re trying to do is have 11 people work together in a direction as they best can.”
I think RB Trey Sermon got behind the eight ball just a little bit, he had an injury thing earlier on in camp. How has he come on in the last few weeks and how do you expect to be able to use him?
“He’s been practicing well. And you take rookies one day at a time, across the board. You try not to get ahead of yourself because you want to put them out there with their teammates when they’re ready. So every day we’re evaluating Trey. And Bobby Turner does not let him slip an inch if he’s wrong on a track or whatever. He’s getting coached up and if he’s doing well, we try to give him more opportunities and continue that momentum.”
What do you like about his skillset?
“Really like his vision, he’s a big dude that has good cutting ability, rare cutting ability for a guy that size and I really like him as a human being. The way he approaches professional football as a professional, he’s working on his craft day in, day out. And his goal is the same as ours. We want the final product to be as good as it can be and the only way you do that is if you’re always hungry for him to get better and better and coach him up and see how good he can get.”
One more Lance question. How did he look today in practice? Was he still limited, Lance?
“He’s still limited. He looked good, but we’re very hesitant to get ahead of ourselves, because, like I said, you’re one snap away. You just have to let the week progress and see how it plays out. He looked good throwing the ball today and moving around, but what does that mean for Sunday? We still have a practice to go before that. And hopefully there’s no setbacks and then we’ll move from there.”
The rest of the offense is pretty darn healthy. Might be the most healthy you’ve been since maybe back to 2019. Does that give you all the options possible including assuming Trey is healthy too?
“Oh, for sure. It’s a credit to our medical staff, our organization, and it’s credit to the players because we have been training hard. But we’ve tried to learn from any mistakes we’ve had in the past. There’s a lot of science involved, but [head of health and performance] Ben Peterson leads all this data that he throws at us on bar graphs that we try to absorb, but we take that serious and do our best because you can’t control injuries full tilt, but you can be smart about things. And it has really helped us going into the season having everyone work together.”
There’s been a lot of external chatter about what having Trey involved could mean in terms of your opponents preparing for both guys. Is that something that you guys actively think about? Like in the preseason we use Trey this way and so the Lions Week 1 will have to figure that out? Is that something you guys account for?
“Well, I think as a football coach you’re aware that more scheme makes people prepare for more. But that’s not necessarily why we do whatever. In the preseason we’re trying to get reps and see if people can get better at things. You’re trying to do schemes and give a taste to your team and see how they react. Our biggest motivating factor is simply just trying to do the best football in a cohesive way and making sure that on gameday on one of our 17 ops that we get, that we’re putting our best foot forward and we’re not missing any opportunity to do well.”
Kyle said yesterday, just as far as having a rotation and making sure QB Jimmy Garoppolo can stay in a rhythm as much as possible, but Kyle doesn’t want him surprised during a game? Is that kind of just like, ‘Hey, maybe you tell him before the game, this is our plan. This is the package for Trey?’ Without revealing secrets, can you kind of spell that out as much as possible?
“He’s being flat honest with you. We use the preseason to prepare so that we have every option open to us. Hey, if a guy’s playing well and we can do X, Y, or Z, we’re going to put him in. We don’t want, in the regular season, for that to be the first time that ever happens. Does that mean that’s going to happen this game or X amount, we’re not really thinking of it that way. We’re all contributing and thinking about what’s the best thing for our football team and doing nothing out of sight or out of mind away from that. It’s just all about, ‘okay, how do we win a game?’ Because we’re playing the Detroit Lions this week and guess what? They have good players, play really hard, and want to beat us so we better bring our best foot forward and nothing else really matters to us.”