Football Mike McDaniel is a football assassin disguised as a hipster

Football Mike McDaniel is a football assassin disguised as a hipster


I don’t know Mike McDaniel, but I love Mike McDaniel. While everyone has been fawning over Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, wondering when he’ll return to head coaching, the hipster McDaniel has been chilling on the West Coast, leading the 49ers offense, and creating one of the most unique brands of offensive football left in the playoffs.

It’s put a spotlight on a man almost nobody knew about aside from 49ers fans, and he is an utter delight. Mike McDaniel isn’t used to being the focus of media attention, and he greeted it this past weekend with joy and self-deprecation.

The reason I love McDaniel is because he’s just so damn normal. The NFL is full of these figures who believe they have to be imposing to get their point across. Dudes who have watched way too many George S. Patton speeches and think they need to emulate actual generals, not football coaches. McDaniel is here being awkward, and goofy, weird, and funny — and it all works. He’s absolutely uncompromising in his approach to being himself, and it’s so damn much fun.

McDaniel took over as offensive coordinator this season after spending three years as the 49ers run game coordinator. Despite having an incomplete roster, with, less face it, a lot of holes on offense, McDaniel has created one of the scariest big-play offenses left in the playoffs by making Deebo Samuel a focal point.

Samuel, who had two decent, but unremarkable seasons prior to 2021, exploded with McDaniel at the helm. The offensive coordinator saw his skills and decided to move him away from being simply a wide receiver, reimagining him as an all-purpose weapon teams are struggling to cover. While much of the national focus was on Jimmy Garoppolo this season, Samuel finished with over 1,400 receiving yards and 365 rushing yards, including eight rushing touchdowns. Without a doubt he was one of the best offensive players in the NFL this season, and a lot of that is owing to the faith McDaniel placed in him.

McDaniel’s path to the point of being considered a potential head coach has been one of the most remarkable steady rises in recent memory. McDaniel didn’t come from a playing background, or even a coaching one, nor did he benefit from nepotism. Hell, he has a degree in history from Yale — not exactly the kind of football resume you expect.

Starting as an intern with the Denver Broncos in 2005, McDaniel slowly rose his way through NFL ranks. He was an offensive assistant with the Texans and Washington, before becoming Washington’s wide receiver coach in 2013. He then took the same job with the Browns, before leaving to become an offensive assistant with the Falcons — then finally landed with the 49ers.

The common thread through all this is Kyle Shanahan. Everywhere he went, McDaniel would follow. The 49ers coach clearly noticed something in McDaniel, and the two shared the same perspective on football. Traveling from team to team, McDaniel kept getting better — until now. In one year he took a team languishing in offensive mediocrity, and brought them into the Top 10 in the NFL in yards, while also lifting them from being the 21st scoring offense in 2020, to 13th in 2021 — all with largely the same roster.

It’s unclear whether he’ll be hired in a head coaching capacity this year, or whether he might need to wait a little longer — but it’s coming. Mike McDaniel has quickly shown he’s one of the brightest young minds in the NFL, and carries himself completely differently to anyone else. He is the face of modern football, like it or not, and the results are speaking for themselves. The 49ers are playing inspiring football, everyone is buying in, and a playoff shocker isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

Get ready NFL fans, because Mike McDaniel will take over a team soon. The question is: Are we ready for him?

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