Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Friday, December 2, 2022.
(49ers WR Deebo Samuel and RB Christian McCaffrey are both kind of iffy. We're not sure what's going to happen with those two guys injury-wise. How does either one being in their backfield at times, how much of an impact does it have on your preparation?) – "I think first of all, they're as good as it gets in terms of people with the ball in their hands. I think statistics reflect that and I think you have to approach a game plan with 100 percent certainty that they're going to play. So yeah, they affect the way you play football because you should be mindful and be deliberate in your approach on how you defend really elite players. I don't know Christian (McCaffrey) at all personally. I've just watched him play and marveled at a lot of stuff that he could do. I do know Deebo (Samuel) and know him well enough that I'm assuming that him and Kyle (Shanahan) are in cahoots and trying to hustle me. And again, we've gone over when my birthday is. (laughter) I think both those guys are elite players because amongst talent, they also have a drive to play and I would be very surprised if both weren't out there on Sunday."
(We haven't seen either T Terron Armstead or OL Austin Jackson practice either of the last two days. Are you ready to rule out one or both for Sunday? And what did you think of the 13 snaps you got out of DL Justin Zimmer last Sunday?) – "Okay, so I'm not going to rule out (Terron) Armstead. I think we can rule out Austin (Jackson) for the game and then as far as old, old new Dolphin 'Zim' (Justin Zimmer), I thought it was awesome. I think it is one of the more challenging things that are underrated. Players aren't robots. They are human beings, so what that means is they have they have families, they have a residence, they have relationships. They have relationships with teammates, so I think one of the things that is very exceptional is when you see a guy like him, or you know, a guy like Bradley Chubb just went through it and Jeff Wilson; but to be able to perform on a new team and in a new scheme with very little prep time is very, very admirable because there's a lot of human elements that I don't think people necessarily account for that are obstacles, as well as the opponent. You're trying to perform. The game tape survives time so you want to put your best foot forward, and you want to do right by your new teammates who you're just making an impression on. So I commend his effort and I think really, the three latest contributors that just joined our team all have exhibited exceptional and unique attributes to be able to be a big part of the team and perform with their teammates counting on them. So it was a good first impression for him for sure."
(And with T Terron Armstead, do you plan on seeing him out at practice today?) – "I plan on having plans and I plan on being prepared for everything. He has a diligent process that I'm not quite sure if he's going to be – he'll be out there but I'm not sure if he's going to be out there while you guys are. Regardless, nothing will change. We're going to see how he is and adjust on game day, but we'll give him his time. He's earned and deserved it."
(Limited today?) – "Yes."
(Going back out there, the extra time you guys have to prepare – how do you get the guys prepped mentally? Maybe for that extra time they're not used to.) – "No, I think you just acknowledge it and then you adjust your schedule, so that they can get the proper amount of rest. That's key because time zones are real and that's why you go out on a Friday, as opposed to the day before the game, to get yourself acclimated as best you can. And I think you, really, realistically, the work day on Friday is the same. Nothing changes. You just don't get your time with your family or your free time. That's spent traveling in an airplane. Then on Saturday, you make a schedule, so that they're able to get the same routine stuff done. Specifically, we'll adjust for the clock and start things in the evening a little bit sooner to kind of, step by step, acclimate ourselves, but with the intent of getting guys to bed early … So we're trying to adjust that and get our rest and get to bed and adjust as fast as possible, but you also just – I think it's an opportunity if you use it correctly to take a step forward as a team because there's a lot of stuff going on. You have in the NFL world, there's so much investment required by coaches and players alike so that when the workday is over, which the workdays end sooner at the end of the week, you take advantage of the time that you're usually off going your different directions and you can spend time together or you can spend time viewing the game plan. All of these things can turn into a great opportunity to gel even further as a team and be your best prepared for game day."
(Is it more of a challenge going east to west or west to east? Or does it not matter?) – "It's just a challenge. I think if you're not mindful and if you're not really – if you just pay it no mind, it can really have an effect on the body, and the body is a huge part of a player's game and how they perform. So I don't really – I can't recall the east to west as much, seeing how it was a while ago for me. I think the last time that I was going through that was I think maybe 2015 or 2016 with the Falcons going to California. I just know they're both challenging and I have enough memory in the memory bank for that. The three hours is the most, but no one really cares on Sunday. So you have to figure it out."
(What have you liked from T Brandon Shell and T Greg Little in terms of if they had to fill in? And also the right-left aspect for each? How comfortable are you with either one's flexibility?) – "Well, this – I know what you're doing. This week we're going to try – we're going to play nine guards. It's a new package we're putting out there, so make sure you let (49ers Defensive Coordinator) DeMeco (Ryans) know that. (laughter) But in terms of how they play, I've been very happy with them. It is a tough task to play tackle in this league and I think it's a credit to them how they've played. I'm sure the average fan hasn't really noticed or known how much they've played because on the television copy or in the game, you're following the ball a little bit. Generally, you see a lot of offensive negative highlights from linemen and not positive, because you assume their job is to block and they're supposed to get it done. So the fact that we – after games that they've played, the majority of the season, which they've gotten a ton of time, both of them, the fact that we're not singling them out as a reason for this, that or the other, you don't just fall into that. Typically, that is the case that you end up creating a storyline when your starting tackles are injured. At this point, they've just really done their best to keep the offense moving forward and have been huge contributors to (be) really where we're at, sitting at 8-3. I've been very impressed, and I make sure as much as I can to let them know, because it's a tall task that not everyone undertakes."
(So, nine guards. Which ones are lining up out wide? Are you making one an eligible receiver?) – "I can't give you that. Then they're going to know our plan. So I'm going to keep that tight to vest, just because that is in the best interest of the Miami Dolphins. (laughter)"
(Do you expect QB Teddy Bridgewater to be available on Sunday?) – "He's working through it. We'll see. He's been getting – he's still on top of the gameplan as much as he always is, if not more, but he's balancing his time spending more time than he ever has in the training room, trying to get right. But we'll see how it responds. I wouldn't – I'm ready for either. The team is ready for either, so we'll see. But I couldn't really say either way."
(With OL Liam Eichenberg, after this game, he'd be eligible to return. Where is he? Is he close to being able to make that return?) – "He's – I don't really totally know at this point the exact date. I know he's working hard. He left – he got injured when his game was as strong as it's ever been. He was making some plays, doing his job well. I think he's very confident and because of that, I think we'll see him sooner than later. As far as that's next week or the following, I don't know."
(Is CB Byron Jones going to travel to the West Coast?) – "No, that wasn't the plan. He's focused on getting right … Just when you guys don't expect it, that's when you'll see him. You know what? He actually told me he's only going to come back when you guys stop asking me. So it's kind of on you guys. (laughter)"
(You got any plans for your downtime in California, the little bit of downtime you may have?) – "No, I really – I'm surprised you guys haven't yelled at me yet, but I say the words 'deliberate' and 'being present' a ton, because that's the ideas of emphasizing something. I try to live what – I try to practice what I preach, so I really haven't even thought past practice. I have thought to what time I have to get myself to the airport to fly out. But I haven't really even thought about that. I know that tonight I'm going to be able to get some sleep and tomorrow we're going to walkthrough as a team, then I have a team meeting that night. Outside of that, I really haven't put it together. I'm a terrible person to make plans with, because while being present, I'm not checking my phone ever."
(We'll ask you on Monday. We'll follow up on Monday.) – "Yeah, I'll let you know. I'll give you the 'deets,' for sure. (laughter)"