Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Wednesday, November 30, 2022.
(Your two tackles, how are they doing?) – "They're not tackling anyone. (laughter) Terron Armstead continues to impress me as just an individual and professional and a teammate. I can tell you one thing that I'm certain of; if there's a way that he can be on the field and play in December against a playoff team, he lives for that moment. And as long as there's nothing keeping him from hurting his team or himself, he'll be out there. You can rest assured that he will do everything possible and if he's unable to go, it will be because it would put himself and his teammates in harm's way. Austin Jackson, I would be surprised if he was able to play. I'm not expecting him to be able to play, but like you guys have heard me talk before, my crystal ball is not the clearest so I won't guarantee anything, but me personally, I'd be very surprised if he played."
(A quick follow up to T Terron Armstead – you said that on Monday, he was getting more, I guess more feedback on possible treatments. Did you get any clarity on maybe the timetable in terms of day to day, week to week? Whether he would be able to practice this week? Surgery?) – "So surgery, no. I guess you'd say it's game to game. We're pretty relatively by percentage of, I guess it'd be like two or three sevenths of a week. It's been pretty recent and in the process he has – I can tell by his spirit that he thinks there's a legitimate chance not to count him out for sure. And I'm not sure. I think he was kind of like everyone reading and writing about that question. He really, really wants to help lead this team, which we rely on him to. So he was a little nervous, I think, in the 24 hours after, but in double the time, he's come back with a little pep in his step so we're all excited to see that."
(For first time ever, NBC juggled their schedule, to put more eyes on the Miami Dolphins and I know it's not this week, but just in general, the concept that y'all are on the national radar and been talking about – how do you want everyone to handle what is obviously now raised expectations?) – "First of all, I think of avoiding reality and entering into delusion is dangerous, so I think it's important to recognize that as that's ultimately what you want. But at the same time, when things don't affect what the goals, the mission of a team – if we would have said on April 4 that our goal was to get flexed – see you guys. (laughter) I think you acknowledge it and that's something that the players should be proud of. That means the players have decided that they want to make the most out of all the talent that they have and they're committed to doing so and it's a credit to them for sure. But at the same time, it is next week so if you worry about next week against a team like we're facing, you will be humbled fast. So I think it's important to acknowledge but it's also just something."
(When you prepare your team, you say, "Look how good the Browns are, the Texans" and you show and film and so forth. You have a unique perspective this week knowing inside and out how the 49ers operate. Do you think your players, I don't want to say, listen more to you this week, but understand the unique perspective you have this week?) – "Maybe? I don't know. I think when I'm talking to the players, generally, if I have an opinion on the football team that we're playing, I'm voicing the opinion while I'm showing the tape. So that's the bottom line. This is a bottom-line business in terms of we are what that tape shows. So I think there's probably human nature. They know that I have spent a good amount of time with a lot of those people on that team. But at the same time, that kind of is par for the course in this league case in point. Like right when the game ends, handshakes; every single game, you have two teams battling it out that had prepared to beat the opponent literally all week. And then right when the game's over, you can tell that there's invested blood, sweat and tears, relationships, from players across the board, whether it's high school, college or in the NFL. So it is more often than not a very normal thing. That isn't out of the ordinary at all for our league. It's a small league and I feel like we're talking about people that I've coached with every week. It's kind of the deal and one of the reasons that you guys have noticed that or done that is because that's what happens when you have success, and the 49ers have had success for a while and they expect success, and they don't settle for anything less than as a result. People are afforded other opportunities and Coach Shanahan's tree grows and grows. I think maybe on Monday, maybe they think something of it. But by this time, we're focused on the business at hand and we're really focused on the Dolphins as it applies to the 49ers in that order."
(Is RB Raheem Mostert in a good spot to return in San Francisco?) – "Yeah, I think so. If we had to go above and beyond, I think he could have played and if we would have just completely been adhering to his hopes and desires, he might have played last week. But it was too risky for what he means to the team. So he should be ready to go this week."
(I understand how you met 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, but how did the friendship between you and he grow and this obviously is something that's been for decades now, you've been tied together?) – "I don't know. I'm hard to get rid of. (laughter) I think I recognized him as an ambitious coach that got into it to help players. I recognized in him early that he really could help players grow and live out their dreams. He knew more than anybody that I'd been around about football so you try to be a resource and you try not to miss opportunities, especially ones right in front your face. So maybe he felt bad for me or maybe he recognized that I was listening. Either way, it was a great working relationship that I'm very much grateful, indebted and really don't know where I'd be without it."
(Is it going to be tough for you on Sunday? Not hard, but is it weird?) – "No, absolutely not. The relationships with everyone are real. There are players that I'm not standing here today if they don't do so many countless things. There's working relationships, all that. But that's neither here nor there. The players, the people in the building and the coaching staff; everyone is depending on me to do my job as they're dependent – I directly affect a lot of people in that regard. So it's very easy for me because it's principally, I think the incorrect way to look at it. This isn't a team to service me. Yeah, I have had life before this year, for sure. But wow, I think it's incredibly insulting to so many different avenues, people in the building, the organization, the fans, if I'm worried about, 'wow, this is where I used to stand or there's games here.' Yeah, I mean, of course. But people are depending on me to not lean or think that way because that's an opportunity cost that I'm not worried about the things actually matter at hand and because of that, it won't be hard at all. It is football. They have a very good team, coached very well, and they play really hard. And what a wonderful opportunity for us to go on the road and play a team that you have to earn everything you get. And that's literally why we do it. We don't do it for Sunday night flexes. You do it for opportunities like this because you don't get this far, whether you're athlete, coach or anybody in between. You don't get this far without a competitive nature and burn that this is the only thing that kind of satisfies that. So this is just great football between two teams that haven't lost in a minute and generally when you haven't lost in a minute, you don't want to feel that feeling, so there's a lot of incentive on both sides to make sure that they end up on top. And isn't that why we do football? That's why we follow it. That's why you guys report it. It's not because I say cool things or look cool. I promise you that. It's because you really appreciate in life when things have to be earned not given. And this will be a game that the winner will definitely earn for sure."
(Talking about earning just off of that, what is the value of this game for your team understanding it's late in the season, the opponent you're facing on the road, and most of your roster hasn't played a playoff game? What is the value of that?) – "1/17th. But no, it is, because what are you trying to do? Are you trying to be the best down the stretch? The best version of yourself? Or are you trying to hope? So each and every game you're building from, does that mean you play as well collectively? No, of course it doesn't. But are you continuing to learn and benefit from that and progressing as a team? Because ultimately, at some point in time you play – there's one team that doesn't have to go home – I wouldn't say loser, but a loser. So at some point in time, you're going to have to play teams that are really good. You're not going to be given anything and it's going to be in front of a live audience. And the stakes are going to be all in. You can't get enough of these opportunities, which we're very fortunate to have. You look at it as a tough road trip. I look at it as a necessary road trip. If you're trying to do anything – these are only going to be good things. It will be hard for sure. But nothing that is satisfying is ever easy. Let's be honest."
(A follow up on the road trip, is this a good time where you're gone for so many days, and the players, their downtime when they're not in meetings or practices, whatever that they're around each other too?) – "Without a shadow of a doubt. A huge, huge deal to me. I've been fortunate enough to be a part of some teams, that how tight they were going into it pales in comparison to where they're at after it. It's nice because you don't have anywhere to go. So I think that time is very important. Again, you'll always do more for your teammates than ultimately you'll be able to muster up for just yourself. That kind of burns out. But when you have that extra incentive, maybe you learn about someone's past, learn about a sibling they have, find an interest. All of those things are what's special about a team. And the pillars of a team are always centered around relationships, and relationships grow when you invest in them. So it's a mandatory investment that you don't really have anywhere to go. But generally, and I'm very, very confident, and certain and excited, that this team with this character that cares as much about each other, it will be a wonderful opportunity. And I expect to see the best version of our team camaraderie and really we should see the best face of the team after that experience because it is something that's tangible, for sure."
(WR Jaylen Waddle, after his rookie season, was kind of primed to be a focal point, a centerpiece, of this offense and then you trade for WR Tyreek Hill. How have you seen him respond to adding such another such a high profile player? And how have you seen him bond with Tyreek over the course of the season?) – "You see it is very transparent that he is a team-oriented guy that wants to make plays for the right reasons, which is he really thrives in making plays for his teammates, much like, quite literally, every teammate of his. On offense, there's a lot of contributors that go into his share of targets, which although he's not afforded the most, it is the second most. And in the same way that all the sacrifices that other players happily do, for those extremely talented teammates, you do things to be a part of something, to do something that – you can as Jaylen, a lot of people dream of 100 catches. I mean, cool, but winning. That's the deal. And you win with your teammates, and sometimes that requires some people to be stat selfless. Sometimes that requires people to bear the burden. Those two together help each other. I think our team, I don't think they lose sight of their teammates and what their teammates do for them. We ultimately go as far as your best players take you and this just in, but I'm not ranking players. But they're up there."
(You know that offense pretty well. Since they've added Christian McCaffrey, has the 49ers offense changed much or is it too small of a sample size?) – "I think that's a steadily evolving process. Are there things that they do different? For sure. Just because you have different players and your job is to put them in position to succeed. So what are they good at? I think that's something that they do a great job of. They try to do their best, they have a lot of good players and they do their best to get them all involved in the game because they know that's the best chance for them to win. So there are new things that they are doing, for sure, because there's different players. I can promise you one thing that there's not anybody in that building that's not working for sure. So they'll always evolve. But it's just football."
(One of the themes on your previous stops working with the West Coast, Shanahan, style of offense was yards after the catch. This year, with you taking over the reins, yards after the catch hasn't been at thetop of the league, but the offense has still been successful. I was curious what have you seen from the way defenses have played you that has led to maybe not getting as many yards after the catch?) – "You try to assess the tape and find yards that we left out on the field. I think we're still working at maximizing those, but at the same time, when players put on tape that they'll make plays if you're not backed up enough, or you're not keeping the entire offense in front of you, there's pros and cons with ensuring that there's not big plays. And in that, you're always adapting, and I don't think anything in our game will ever be satisfied with just because you're always trying to get better and not worse. And if you stay the same, you're probably getting worse. But I think it's something that during the season, it's hard to forecast the way things will look, how people will defend you. And that changes game by game. So you have to adapt and there's certain focuses and points of emphasis that we have to really focus on now, just because the different styles that people are playing us. So I think that's a natural constant consequence. I think that's less about oh, those players aren't YAC players that we have in our offense. I think most people would argue that's quite the opposite. And there's plenty of examples to show. I know they are trying to max out all those yards always, but at the same time, there's a component of handling adjustments and you can't fight what defenses want you to do. You have to do your best to take advantage of it. So however that that manifests itself, there are multiple ways, numerous ways, to make cats hairless. Skin a cat. That's it, right? (laughter)"