The Dolphins have a new head coach! On Sunday evening, the team agreed to terms with San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel, making him the 14th head coach in franchise history. Spending the last five seasons with the 49ers, McDaniel began his coaching career in 2005 and has coached in three of the past six NFC Championship games and two Super Bowls. Here are five facts about the Dolphins' new head coach:
1. A Life in Football
McDaniel concluded his playing career at Yale, but it was his childhood experience that opened a door into the coaching world. As a youth, McDaniel rode his bike to Broncos training camp on the campus of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado. There, he met video staffer Gary McCune, who would later put him in touch with Mike Shanahan, who hired McDaniel as a coaching intern in 2005.
2. Smashmouth Football
The Shanahan tree spans far and wide with the consistent feature of each branch coming from excellence in the run game. In 2006, McDaniel left the Broncos and joined fellow Shanahan pupil Gary Kubiak on the Houston Texans' staff. There, McDaniel worked with the son of Mike, Kyle Shanahan. After three seasons there, McDaniel took a position with the Sacramento Lions, a part of the now-defunct United Football League, before teaming up with Shanahan again in 2011 with Washington.
More recently, the Niners run game has produced four different leading rushers in four seasons. Despite an unusual number of injuries to that position group over the last half-decade, the Niners managed to rank 10th, 4th, 7th and 2nd in rushing in the NFL during that four-year period.
The constant in that backfield, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, holds McDaniel in high-regard.
3. Players' Coach
"Absolute best in the game," Juszczyk said on Twitter when McDaniel was promoted to Niners offensive coordinator. "Nobody gets more out of his players than McDaniel! Most creative run scheme out there!"
Tight end George Kittle once joked about asking for language in his contract that ensured McDaniel couldn't leave for another job.
Back to McDaniel's time in Washington, former wide receiver Pierre Garcon led the NFL in receptions under the watch of the new Dolphins head coach.
"He's very innovative. He can communicate," Garcon said. "Offense is obviously his thing. He creates high expectations for his players. He will put his players in the right position. I know he can communicate well so the players understand what he's asking them to do."
McDaniel had a lasting impact on another wide receiver, Andrew Hawkins, who played for McDaniel in 2014 with the Browns.
"(I would) bet every dollar in my account that no other candidate understands offensive football the way he does," Hawkins said during the 2021 coaching-search cycle when McDaniel was up for coordinator jobs around the league.
4. What Does the Man Who Can Do Anything Ultimately Do?
Coach football, of course.
"I didn't go into college thinking the end game was coaching football," McDaniel said. "But when I started investigating other avenues, it was an easy decision and something I never looked back on."
What's the old saying? Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life?
"I had a summer internship in business. There was some (investment-banking) stuff that I investigated," he said. "And I realized for me to ultimately be satisfied in my career, I had to be passionate about it."
5. Success at Multiple Stops
Over a 15-year career, McDaniel has been with seven teams, two leagues, and coached alongside 118 coaches in the NFL. Among them, the Shanahans, Sean McVay, Robert Saleh, Dan Quinn, Matt LaFleur, Mike Pettine, Raheem Morris, Wes Welker and DeMeco Ryans, to name a few.
In his career, McDaniel has been a part of staffs that have won four division titles and seven playoff games. He's been with clubs who have appeared in four conference championship games and two Super Bowls. McDaniel has been a member of coaching staffs for an MVP season (2016, Matt Ryan with Atlanta), a Rookie of the Year campaign (2012, Robert Griffin III with Washington), and the third-most receiving yards gained in a single season (Julio Jones, 2016 with Atlanta).
Now, he will bring his varied experience with him to Miami as the Dolphins next head coach.