Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel Press Conference
Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel
Press Conference – January 19, 2022
San Francisco 49ers
You’re often serious in talking football with us, but you also are not afraid to show your personality and humor. I don’t know if you had felt like this was any sort of decision you made, but when you started to talk to us this season for the first time, was it like, ‘Hey, I’m just going to be myself,’ because it seems like you could have opted for a little more conservative approach?
“All I heard when you just said that was that you think that I’m funny.”
“That’s all I heard. No, I think we have a lot of support, there’s a lot of people I’ve worked with that have experience in doing press conferences and then our PR department is top of the line. The key advice that I really received was just to be yourself, so that’s all I try to do. But whether people find that funny or not, there’s probably people both ways, but I’m glad that there’s a piece of my personality that comes out.”
It’s been reported you’re supposed to interview with the Dolphins today, I believe. Have you already done that? And if so or even if not, what has this week been like for you in terms of trying to prepare for a game, but also kind of having that in the background?
“There is something scheduled, it hasn’t happened yet. But like I said before, as a football coach, you feel there’s a level of anxiety if there’s anything distracting you from your job at hand, because you know that it’s hard enough to win as it is. And your teammates are counting on you and so it is been pretty easy, to answer your question, because of my loyalty to my job and my teammates. It really hasn’t been in the forefront of my mind because you work your whole career to be in a position like this in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, one game away from the NFC Championship Game. These are few and far between, so with as many days and hours that we work as coaches, it’s not hard to focus in big moments like these.”
You obviously could have done whatever you wanted to in life, but you followed your passion, which is football in general. Since you’ve been in the NFL, it seems like you’ve developed a passion for the X’s and O’s of the run game in particular. What about that puzzle thrills you?
“Well, really all started in Washington and moving on, we had a tendency as a coaching staff to get fired every place we were at. I just really answered the bell to what [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] needed most and in terms of assistants, you want value. So I was fortunate to be around some excellent football coaches in [offensive line coach] Chris Foerster and Kyle Shanahan and there was an avenue for me to help the team that I was on. So that was really the driving force, but really I was a receivers coach before this and football in general, that puzzle you speak of, that’s a good you use of words, it is intriguing, but it was really more circumstance that drove me into the avenue that I’m currently in.”
Do you use sense of humor in your coaching? Is that part of your coaching style and has it helped you just relate to players over the years?
“Well, I think early in my career when I first started working with Kyle in Houston, one of the things that stood out to me when he was giving me advice when we first started working together, was that it is extremely important to be authentic. The bottom line is players want to succeed as much, if not more, than coaches. They’re living their dream. And if you can show them that you’re a tool in realizing their dream, that’s all they want. So you’re authentic, honest, and you work hard to make players better A.K.A. coaching. That’s all that’s required of the position in our in our chosen field. And that’s really what I focus on is that players and people that I work with know what they see is what they get.”
There’s a lot of great athletes in the NFL, a lot of them can do a lot of different things, but what is it about WR Deebo Samuel that makes him unique that you guys can use him like you do? And when was it that you guys realized, ‘Hey, let’s try using him in this unconventional way for a wide receiver rather than just leaving him as that?
“Well, Deebo has been unique to all of our careers because you’re always trying to define what a football player is and it’s still hard to define, but the game moves slow for him and he’s fearless and he’s fast and he is big and he is hard to tackle. The evolution of how we use him, that’s a product of two things. Him being a really good football player and I think Kyle does an outstanding job of really pushing his staff to open their mind and see what’s there maybe that we haven’t done or really think through the whys of everything that we do. So that combination of a skillset with a particular player and the drive that Kyle’s been pushing on me since the day I started working with him. Those type of things end up rendering the results that you guys are seeing from a whole staff perspective. We’re all committed to utilizing our players the best way we can. And every person on the offensive staff contributes in that direction. It takes a village to do things that maybe haven’t been necessarily done with specific players.”
This is also another Deebo question, kind of related to that. Just thinking about the touchdown run, where it’s slow developing. It looks like nothing is there and then all of a sudden, he’s just cuts back and he’s basically in the end zone. How much of that is coaching in terms of being patient? And how much is it just Deebo being able to identify those cut back lanes? And then do you almost look to create plays where he has more time to sort of survey the field because of his vision?
“No, so on that particular play as coaches, we said score. No, it is really cool to watch him play, it changes kind of your job description a little bit to where you’re trying to give a guy opportunities and not necessarily thinking exactly about defining stuff. You’re more abstract about, ‘Hey, how do we get the ball with space?’ So that is a unique thing that we’ve kind of grown into. But Deebo would make any coach look great. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve never, ever, ever been around a football player that called his own shot. I get in basketball, but when you’re playing with 22 people are on the field, 11 of them are trying to tackle you with every ounce of being that they have. And you just say, ‘Hey yeah, give me the ball, I’m going to put the ball in the box,’ and for him to do it, that was a special moment that only a special player could accomplish.”
When you’re looking back at that first Green Bay game, I asked defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans how much of a self-assessment have you evolved from that point? So same thing for you, I mean, Deebo had two carries for zero yards in that game. How much has the growth been from Week 3 to now?
“Yeah, we don’t seem that smart now, do we? Collectively, that’s the way we look at it though. That’s the way that it’s been ingrained within the entire organization to be extremely accountable and you look back at that and you’re like, ‘Wow, how did that happen? How could we go the course of a game and just not get him the ball, there’s so many ways to do it,’ but it’s a natural progression. But really out of necessity, we found different ways to get him the ball. And to his credit he’s really owning a lot of positions right now. For every time that you guys sit there and say ‘Wow, they move him around a lot.’ No, Deebo is moving around a lot. That means he has to be accountable for every single assignment. Every single thing you guys see him do. There’s no success that comes out of it if he’s not aligned properly, the timing of whatever play it is, isn’t on point. That’s something that you don’t know if someone’s up for the challenge until you progressively get there. And it’s something that I know our whole team is really proud of the way he’s matured and he’s come to his own in 2021-22.”
How is QB Jimmy Garoppolo doing, what do you anticipate him being able to do in practice? And then the other question would be about your running game and whether you think they’re doing well enough right now where they could do another 285-yard output?
“Well, I think Green Bay’s defense might have something to say about. You can tell they pride themselves on being a tough unit that does not want to get the ball ran on them. So I wouldn’t go anywhere close to predicting those once in lifetime type deals, but just the game in general, it’s too hard to predict. If you could refresh me on the first part I got distracted.”
Yeah. What do you anticipate out of Jimmy Garoppolo throwing-wise today?
“Yeah, with the way Jimmy takes care of himself and at this point in the season, it’d be like pulling teeth to get him not to do everything he can to perform at his highest level. So, it’s a bump and a bruise that for him is a big deal, but for the San Francisco 49ers, our fan base and us, we can all count on Jimmy doing whatever it takes so that he can perform at the level he needs to on Saturday. So I’m not too concerned. The practice has yet to happen, but if I was a crystal ball reader, which I’ve declared that I’m not, I would anticipate him throwing it well today and us moving forward from there.”
The first run by Deebo in the game against Dallas, everyone blocked to the right and I think TE George Kittle had a kick-out block and Dallas Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs was left unblocked, but it looked really good. It just had an aesthetically-pleasing look because it was just this entire wall to the right and everyone had their guy. I was just wondering, I don’t know if you ever say, that was done to perfection or if it’s never quite to that level, but I don’t know, was that close?
“Yeah, to be honest, we were hoping for and we were ready for it to be more. You have to credit the Dallas Cowboys defense. I think it was a nine-yard gain that you’re talking about and the safety and the offensive left corner, defensive right corner compressed it a little bit. But that was something that, as a coaching staff, that we had pinpointed that we thought that we might have a chance on that play. And the real credit goes to [OL] Laken Tomlinson and [T] Trent Williams, who did a masterful backside block. I think George Kittle really executed. There were 11 guys executing to the highest degree, the technique that we work on all year. That’s what it takes to be able to do something. When an NFL defense goes into a game and says, you’re not going to run it on us. Everyone better execute, be on the same page. Chris Foerster’s drill work better be on point. All of the things have to align and then Deebo has to feel it, run it correctly. Don’t forget he has to catch the ball when it’s tossed to him. And so you’re excited about that, but as coaches, it’s something that [former NFL head coach] Mike Shanahan really instilled in us early. We’re coaching for every play to be a touchdown. That’s why we’re disappointed a lot. But we were excited that it got some yardage. Those plays are cool, but unless you’re converting on third downs and your defense is playing well, they go in the history books as nothing.”