Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Monday, November 28, 2022.
(There was an NFL.com report that T Terron Armstead does not have a pectoral tear. It's a strain and he will return. From the timetable you've been given, what you're willing to share with us, do you think within the next two to three weeks it is realistic to see Terron on the field again?) – "I definitely wouldn't put that past him, but we are gathering information, seeking all specialists and kind of letting the injury settle a hair so the information can be a little more concrete and a little clearer. We're evaluating some options with him in terms of how to treat it and stuff. But you know how I feel about Terron. He's the consummate pro. So I would be really foolish to go ahead and stamp an exact timeline because he's – you just never know, it might be right around the corner."
(Is there confidence though that T Terron Armstead will play again this year?) – "Yeah, I'm confident that he'll play again, as with the information presented. Hopefully, there's nothing worse or more disparaging in the next couple of days."
(With T Austin Jackson, any update as to whether this could again be a long-term ankle issue?) – "We're still gathering information on him, too, but it was the same ankle. It was not the same injury – percentages in playing football and it was kind of a weird, freak thing that was pretty violent. So we'll be hanging out down in the training room. I'm going to put an office down there just so I can get my information quicker."
(I know you don't want to make this week about you, but of course you're going to get those questions about facing the 49ers and the friendships you have there and the experiences there. What do you think that will be like for you as you prepare for a big game against the team you've coached with just last season?) – "I will do everything in my power to make it another game, because I think that should be the objective of any head coach is that you make it about the players. I really stray away from making anything about me. I just don't believe in it. I have a very high opinion of the 49ers franchise and players, coaches, staff members. I have a lot of love for anybody that I worked with, especially for that extended period of time. So those relationships and people will always matter to me. But in terms of this week, it will be odd for a second, for sure, to be in a different locker room, or pulling up on the bus in a weird area, or being on a different sideline for a second, I'm assuming – just odd as in abnormal. But after that, my obligation is to serve each and every player and coach and try to get the best out of them. Nowhere in that equation has anything to do with my past history and travels, so that's why I don't – when I say it's not about me, I really, really mean it. I do understand that there is – I do understand where people are coming from in thinking it's that way. That's just me personally and just a philosophy that is strong and near my heart."
(What about facing 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, him being on the other side after how many years you guys have been together and the familiarity aspect?) – Well, I don't have that much – I don't really look across the sidelines that much at opposing coaches. So I don't think, on the field, I will feel anything different than any other game in regard to him. I owe a lot to him in general. I will be forever grateful, and I think he's always been one of the best, if not the best, offensive coaches and head coaches that I've ever had experience being around. I will not be undertaking any Oklahoma drills as well this week on the field with him. I think he would – it is definitely about some players. It's a tough test, and that's the bigger deal – No. 1 defense in the league, an offense that does a great job getting yards, getting it to all their unbelievable talented skill position players and a special teams (unit) that has definitely – Ray-Ray McCloud is an issue that you have to handle. So that's the bigger thing is that we've been progressing week by week, and in the NFL, if you're aspiring to do big things, you have to play big time football in December and January against big time teams. So that's something that I think our team will be excited for, and I know the 49ers will be excited to play football like they always are each and every week."
(Postgame last night, QB Tua Tagovailoa alluded to WR Jaylen Waddle's attention to detail. I know you were very excited about him when you got here based upon the tape, but I'm curious if you can recall a moment where you realized it's not just the physical talents with Waddle, but he's wired the right way too?) – "Right after the break – over the break, I was interested. I love the way he worked in OTAs, and I was very, very high on him coming out of college. It was obvious in OTAs that I really liked the human being and definitely believed in him. Really, coming back from summer break, you don't have any time to learn, and you don't assume anything – I didn't know how he was going to come back, because that can be a very huge time for a young receiver, especially in a new offense, is what do you do between OTAs and training camp to prepare yourself for an NFL season. I was as encouraged by him as any other player in terms of how he came back ready to play, so it was obvious early. And as we've gone on, very talented players aren't always that hungry to be coached. You have a lot of success as a very talented player, and a lot of times, I've experienced players feeling as though coaching is an insult. He is quite the opposite. He keeps learning each and every week, and he is not – it's always a guy has a chance to be really, really good and chase greatness in this league if you have a ton of talent, but you're constantly hoping that yesterday's version was the worst version of yourself that you'll see moving forward, that you're constantly getting better. And that's something that he has proven to his teammates that he's a really good player. We have to rely on him to make plays for us to play the style of football we want to play, and his teammates rely on him and trust him. I know that each and every week, he's going to put his best foot forward to be the best version of himself. Yesterday offered a great opportunity for him to improve. There was some stuff in the game that he'll tell you that he definitely could have done better and some situations that he encountered that was the first time in the offense that he encountered this season. So there's timing nuances and route-running nuances that he's going to continue to progress, and that's why the Dolphins got a good one him.
(You mentioned big-time teams. It's no secret the next three road games obviously are against playoff caliber teams. The offensive line and the potential uncertainty there. And you've had to deal with this throughout the season as far as the effectiveness of keeping QB Tua Tagovailoa upright, giving him time and help, going into this big three game stretch, potentially some shifting there, and also just the challenge ahead of you got three big time games on the road coming up in this team in this middle of this playoff race.) – "I'm very steadfast and consistent with this one where I hope that no player on our team or coach has any clue who we play after the next opponent only because to the point that I try to get people not to even know our schedule, because I don't think that is how you win in this league. You just worry 100 percent about the challenge at hand, and you better versus the 49ers or they'll quickly humble you. And then you just learn from that game and you move on to the next. And I think that is as simple as it sounds, I think that is a concrete formula to allow win, loss, tie – to give yourself the best chance to put your best stuff out on the field. And anything that short-changes that is an opportunity cost that I try not to do. I think the bottom line is in December and January, meaningful football is the starting point. You want to be in those months playing meaningful football. And when you are in those months playing meaningful football, it is something unlike any other style of football that exists. The beginning of the season pales in comparison to that environment. Each and every week will have implications on playoffs that will help determine seeding and whether you're playing home or away, and whether you can continue playing with the team that you're on. Our team really likes to be around each other, has a lot of love for each other, and wants to see us take this as far as we can. And the biggest thing to do that is to go ahead and strap up for the most exciting football that that exists, which is real ball in the 12th month of the year."
(You've already touched on how odd it's going to be going back to Cali, but do you look forward to the chess match? Are you going to look forward to the chess match that you're going to have with your former mates when you go back to San Fran?) – "I'm excited for the players to play against each other. Again, one thing I do know, in all three phases, the 49ers will have a good plan to go against us. I know that's what they do. And we will have a good plan as well. And either way, exactly the details of each and every plan, the players will decide on the field. The players are the ones that have to execute each and every thing whether you're offense, defense, or special teams, and those are the players that are tackling, catching, running, hitting, throwing. I think that's what is exciting is that you have two teams that have won several games in a row. They get to play each other and something's got to give. And that's fun football for everybody. What I do notice, on both sides, I'm very confident that both teams will give it their best shot, which is no other way you want to watch December football than that."
(How concerned are you about facing DE Nick Bosa if either of your tackles should miss the game, or for that matter, if both of them are in the game?) – "If Nick Bosa has a pulse, you're concerned. If he walks past you in the in the parking lot, you're concerned. He's one of the better players in the entire NFL. You could easily argue, many people have, and I think a lot of teams that have played him have, that he's the best pass rusher in the NFL. You always will encounter really good players, or elite players, on really good teams. That never fails. And so you always have to get used to playing teams with exceptional players. He's going to make his plays. You try to do your best to minimize those with various things. Every little detail, you have to be mindful of where he's at and, and how he's going about his business, regardless of who's there. I think from an offensive staff perspective, you have to do your due diligence to try to minimize him as best you can, knowing that you're never going to stop him and he lives and breathes pass rushing. When I was around him in San Francisco, he would do pass rush moves on sanitizer. Like the little pods? Like, if you see like an object like this podium, he would do a pass rush move on it. (laughter) So that's just who he is. But there's always going to be challenges and I'm excited to go ahead and have our team go against really quality players and give it our best shot and see what we got."
(T Kendall Lamm, what can you tell us about what you like about him?) – "First and foremost, nouns as last names go a long way with me. (laughter) He's made a footing in this league. I've known of him when he's come out, and then playing at this level, he's done a good job. I think the more NFL game experience that you have on your NFL team at the offensive line position is critical, just because it's not something that you want to come off as a reserve or off the bench and enter in your first situation. It's not ideal at all. He's a good player and I'm happy to have him around."
(It wouldn't be a Monday if we didn't ask about Byron Jones.) – "Right? It wouldn't be, right (laughter) There's been some good communication and he's absolutely going to play when he's able to. And when that is – (you guys) broke it, broke my crystal ball. (You) broke it. (laughter) It's the same story as last. And I will keep you abreast. I think everyone agrees that's been the formula that has kept us winning is that question on Mondays, so make sure they keep coming. (laughter)"
(I want to ask you about the receiver position in general. How have you seen that position evolve in importance over the years and how does having a player like WR Tyreek Hill sort of factor into that perspective?) – "I guess the receiver position has always been unbelievably important because you look at a receiver and their average yards per catch is generally longer than a first down, which means they move the ball when they are involved. I think during my career, you've seen different applications of utilizing the receiver position in the areas of the run game, pass protection, the other phases, to try to stay ahead of defenses. I think that's something that's growing to a degree, having receivers do some things that normally tight ends do. I think that's different. And I think, in general, people have found ways to get receivers the ball more, henceforth I think the receptions a year record has gone up. I can't remember what it was when I first started. But it was incrementally, you've seen people get bigger and bigger numbers at that position. So when you are able to find ways to get people to ball more, they can be a bigger part of the offense. And I think that when push comes to shove, with the amount of talent at the quarterback position in this league, where guys can place the ball down the field and really tight windows, there is no coverage or defensive philosophy or matchup that can replicate having an elite player at that position. And Tyreek Hill is somebody that defenses have to account for on every play. Just by that, he can not only make plays for you, but he affects every other player on the field. When you talk about people affecting whether it's a coverage check or if the safety is cheating to his side, you start being on the minds of every offensive player or every defensive player and coach, and you have indirectly affected the game in an unbelievable way. So he is a big time player for us, but he affects the game specifically more than the stat sheet can really do justice because every play he's in the game, you'd be hard-pressed to think that in a majority of those, the defensive coordinator would be calling the exact same call if he didn't exist, or they wouldn't be emphasizing it. It's kind of like talking about Nick Bosa in that regard, where you're very aware of where he's at, and I think that is a huge deal but even bigger deal when he's a captain voted by his peers that continues to progress and evolve as a leader, and as someone that dictates and sets the tone for the way your team approaches football. And when your highest paid player on your team doesn't blink at doing the dirty work, the residuals are profound for sure."