Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel Press Conference
Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel
Press Conference – December 30, 2021
San Francisco 49ers
We’ve been hearing from your defensive players and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans about how good QB Trey Lance has looked in practices running the scout team. How does that apply to what you guys do considering he’s running different offenses? What can you kind of take away from that and how does he build by running the opponent’s offense?
“That goes back to the preparation by him and his position coaches, [quarterbacks coach] Rich Scangarello and [offensive passing game specialist] Bobby Slowik. Making sure that you’re prepared going into practice, you review the cards that you’re running so that every single time there’s overlap, because there’s not a ton of secret plays in the NFL. There’s a lot of overlap between what people are running and so when there is overlap, then you apply it in your verbiage and language and use your timing so it’s incredibly valuable. There’s always little details that they’ll have to adjust, but every single time you’re taking a scout team rep, you’re in the huddle, you’re using any sort of verbiage that applies to our offense. You’re telling people where to go, you’re using cadence and then distributing the ball against zone or man defenses. All of that is incredibly applicable to what players have to do, quarterbacks specifically on a down in, down out basis, whether you’re scout team or running practice with the first team.”
We’ve heard a couple players just talk about how Trey’s become a little bit more aggressive in the pocket as a passer rather than run, but how has he changed or how have you helped him just tighten up his mechanics his throwing motion? What has changed with Trey behind the scenes in terms of that improvement?
“Well, it’s just deliberate practice. You’re going each and every day. Trey’s a very smart dude and so he takes coaching very well. You want to be specific because he’ll hear everything you say and he will try to apply it. So, it’s just deliberate practice day in, day out. We have direct coaching points that we’ve over time kind of established as our core fundamental principles. So it’s just really day in, day out saying, ‘Okay, we want you to play with the base better, improve that.’ And so he diligently does it and applies it every time possible. And then it’s a matter of time with every player, every single player, it doesn’t who you are, whether your [T] Trent Williams or a rookie, you’re going to have lapses in technique. And that’s our job as coaches is to always be aware of it, always be present and never miss an opportunity to help a young player get better.”
How have you seen Trey evolve as a leader from really when he first got there for rookie mini-camp to today as he goes in to potentially start on Sunday?
“He’s a charismatic, humble, young kid. It’s like going to a new school. At first, you see glimmers of someone’s personality, but if you have any social awareness, you kind of feel it out and see your place. The NFL season is almost like two seasons of college football. So what’s the difference between being a freshman in college and a junior? I think people really respect his work ethic. That’s earned not given and you feel that as a player and you allow it to all hang out. He’s really just another player on the team and on this team, there’s no room for individuals or ‘I’s. It’s all about what’s the best for the 49ers and the way he diligently tries to work at his craft, I think is very impactful to his teammates. And much like we were talking about with [WR] Brandon Aiyuk, kind of showing his personality. That’s kind of what we’ve experienced with Trey and understanding that players want him to lead and him actually embracing that. And you can hear it in his voice. You can hear it in how he handles his teammates, it’s been cool to watch.”
What have you seen from QB Jimmy Garoppolo throwing the ball on the side before practice the last two days, whether in person or on video? Also, FB Kyle Juszczyk is up for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award and I’m kind of curious what you’ve seen sportsmanship-wise from a guy whose main job is to shove people to the side?
“Yeah. Okay. Well your first question, Jimmy is one of the best throwers on the planet. He’s very gifted in the accuracy and ball placement and he throws really catchable, tight footballs. That hasn’t changed. It’s more about how it responds and how it feels, so that you can have strength in that thumb through the course of an entire game. So it’s looked great, it’s more about how he responds to it and how it feels the next day. That’s why it’s kind of a day-by-day basis with him. That’s been encouraging watching it and you’re kind of playing the waiting game saying, ‘Okay well, Friday, how’s he going to wake up and feel.’ As far as Juice and his sportsmanship, I was kind of giving him a hard time about that today. I think it shows people’s respect for him and how he goes about his business. But it was surprising because it’s not like he gives his opponent an inch really. So I think it’s more about how they respect him doing his job and going about his business and being a higher effort player because he does get a little salty during games. But I think it just speaks to how professional he is and what a great football player he is, doing things the right way.”
How closely did you and Rich pay attention to Trey’s snap to throw speed against the Cardinals in Week 5. And if you did, was that speed what you would expect from a rookie? Do you think that that’s accelerated over time? Where is he on that part of the game?
“To be honest, we didn’t even watch it. No, that is really all we do is pay attention. We try to be detailed as possible as a coaching staff. And it goes across the board from an offensive lineman’s alignment to like, you’re talking about speed to throw. I think the main thing is going through, watching him process and playing in the timing of a play. And that’s something that every rep at every play that you do run, you get better at. And that’s really just him accepting the challenge because we were perfectionists. Just because that that’s our job. Our job is to get the best out of players. So all that is an opportunity to say, ‘Hey this was great, but look at this, you were a hitch too late on this.’ All of that is a huge part of a coach’s job, whether it’s a quarterback or you’re talking about a running back pressing the right hole or taking the right track or you’re talking about a receiver running this depth right. So all of those things have improved from training camp to what you guys saw in the Arizona game and then from the Arizona game to now. We’ve seen improvement the entire time, which can only happen one way and that’s deliberately working at your craft and not ever getting exhausted with the process because it is an exhausting process, but you learn a lot about guys. And I think all of his teammates have learned that this guy is driven and is far from satisfied with his game and will continue to grow.”
TE George Kittle in the game against Tennessee, I think he went three quarters plus without a target. I understand, obviously, that opens some things up for other guys. WR Deebo Samuel goes onto have a big night, things like that, but is that something that concerns you and you kind of make it a point moving forward of like, ‘Hey, we got to at least try to get him the ball throughout a game.’ Or how do you kind of view that when a team is doing so much to take one guy away, even if it is opening things up for someone else?
“There a lot of things that factor into that. Especially, at the tight end position. If teams want to play soft zone and play two-shell defense, the best thing about having multiple players on your offense that can make plays is that you are allowed the liberty to take what the defense is giving you. There’s certain times that he’s left one-on-one on third down a ton and teams are playing a lot of man. That’s when we look at ourselves critically and say, ‘Hey, what are we doing? This guy has a matchup and we’re not taking advantage of it.’ But realistically, if you’re going into a game and on third down two guys are covering George Kittle. Well, yeah, he can probably still make a play, but you’re also adding risk for your whole team. And when you have other playmakers, which we’re afforded you, you can distribute the ball and he does have opportunities. He can make more of them. So there are situations where we definitely are in, hindsight, like ‘Hey, we didn’t take advantage of certain situations with players. This past game, we’d love Kittle to have 250 yards receiving every week. But is that the best thing for the team? And I didn’t really see us as an offensive coaching staff, miss opportunities that we wish we had back. It’s game-by-game. I know it’s fantasy people’s nightmares, but that’s kind of what we do. We try to do our best to take what the defense gives us and get the ball to where the defense is most vulnerable.”