The Miami Dolphins decided that one of the youngest candidates to be their next head coach also was the best candidate, choosing San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel on Sunday.
The Dolphins are expected to hold a news conference this week to introduce McDaniel.
McDaniel, 38, becomes the fourth consecutive hiring by owner Stephen Ross with no head-coaching experience. The others — Joe Philbin, Adam Gase and Brian Flores — all were gone in less than four seasons. None won a playoff game.
Although McDaniel did not call plays for the 49ers, he did help coach Kyle Shanahan formulate game plans, made suggestions on plays and is considered one of the bright young, creative offensive minds in the league.
McDaniel helped the 49ers reach this season’s NFC Championship Game, boasting the league’s seventh-ranked offense and 13th-ranked scoring offense.
Mike McDaniel will be charged with improving anemic Dolphins offense
McDaniel’s first task, after assembling a staff, will be to add life to a Miami offense that ranked 25th in yardage, 30th in rushing, 17th in passing and 22nd in scoring. The majority of the Dolphins’ candidates were offensive coaches — a clear sign that Ross wants to field a more entertaining team in 2022.
McDaniel just completed his fifth season with the 49ers, having served as their run-game coordinator (2018-20) and run-game specialist (2017).
Before that, he spent two seasons coaching receivers for the Atlanta Falcons. He also coached Cleveland’s receivers in 2014 and spent three years with Washington.
Former John I. Leonard standout Pierre Garcon, who led the NFL with 113 receptions for Washington in 2013, called McDaniel “probably the smartest one” of his position coaches.
From 2009-10 McDaniel coached running backs for the United Football League’s Sacramento Lions.
With McDaniel leading the 49ers’ rushing attack, San Francisco averaged 127.4 yards per game. Elijah Mitchell was San Francisco’s top rusher at 207 carries for 963 yards (4.7 average) and five touchdowns, but he played only 11 games. Raheem Mostert suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener.
Mike McDaniel helped set up his mom with Broncos videographer; they got married
McDaniel, who is bi-racial, grew up in Colorado, son of a single mother. He used to bike from Greeley, Colorado, to spend his summer days collecting autographs from Broncos players. Along the way, he formed a friendship with Broncos videographer Mike McCune.
One day, McDaniel brought his mother, Donna, to camp and introduced her to McCune. Eventually, she married him.
Later, McDaniel received an academic scholarship from Yale, where he earned a degree in history. He interned in investment banking even though he knew that wouldn’t be his career path.
“For me to ultimately be satisfied in my career I had to be passionate about it, and unfortunately there wasn’t much that I was passionate about besides football,” he once told Sports Illustrated.
If not banking, what?
When McDaniel was in the seventh grade, he wrote inside his Little League helmet, beside NFL decals, “I will make it.”
“I was very specific with my word choice,” he told The Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, Calif. “I was consciously not writing ‘play,’ because I was smart enough to know. But I made a decision when I was very young that I wanted to be a professional football coach.”
How did McDaniel know he wouldn’t cut as an NFL player? He was just a 5-foot-9, 175-pound backup receiver at Yale.
McDaniel isn’t shy about joking about his size, especially when surrounded by 320-pound players.
“You go to these new teams, and I always get a kick out of the first time that we’re around the players, and I start talking to an offensive lineman about technique,” McDaniel said. “And the look they give me is priceless. Because I get it.”
The Dolphins’ other finalist, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, was the youngest candidate at age 32.