Mike McDaniel wanted a day before the narrative changed from Sunday’s Miami Dolphins win over the Houston Texans to the following week and facing his former team, the San Francisco 49ers.
OK, it’s been a day.
Looking ahead, McDaniel will face his longtime mentor, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, and the team in San Francisco, where McDaniel spent the past five seasons as an offensive assistant, rising to the offensive coordinator role in 2021 , before landing Miami’s head coaching job.
“I promise you next week is not going to be about me,” McDaniel said afterward 30-15 win Sunday. “I refuse to let that happen. It’s about the Miami Dolphins and trying to get another win together.”
Rest assured the media will be talking about McDaniel.
Sure, the Dolphins (8-3) looking for a sixth straight win and facing another division leader in the 49ers (7-4), who are atop the NFC West, bring enough juice on their own merit. However, the major storyline for the next week will still surround McDaniel. In his first year as a head coach, he’s looking to beat his former team — along with Niners-turned-Dolphins quarterbacks Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert. That is, if Mostert can play, considering he sat out Sunday’s win over the Texans with a knee injury.
McDaniel’s coaching stock has risen rapidly in recent years in San Francisco. He needed just one year as offensive coordinator to become a head coach. From 2018 to 2020, he was the run game coordinator for the 49ers, and in 2017, Shanahan’s first leading the 49ers, McDaniel held the title of specialist in the running game. McDaniel’s rushing yards ranked second in the NFL in 2019 when the 49ers reached the Super Bowl and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, and seventh in 2021 when San Francisco came within one game of the NFC Championship.
McDaniel and Shanahan were on the same coaching staff for a total of 14 seasons.
Before Shanahan brought McDaniel with him to San Francisco, Shanahan employed him in various jobs when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. In 2015 and 2016 with the Atlanta Falcons, McDaniel was an offensive assistant. With the Cleveland Browns since 2014, McDaniel served as receivers coach. At Washington, McDaniel was the receivers coach in 2013 and an offensive assistant the previous two years, while Kyle’s father, Mike Shanahan, was the head coach. McDaniel was also an offensive assistant early in his career in Houston from 2006 to 2008, as Shanahan initially won his first offensive coordinator title in 2008 after one season each as receivers coach and then quarterbacks coach.
Whose familiarity with the other will win out at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday?
But beyond the McDaniel-Shanahan story, the 49ers game will be about McDaniel for another reason.
It’s about what he can come up with offensively against a stout San Francisco defense coming off a New Orleans Saints lockout featuring the Dolphins star. left tackle Terron Armstead prepares to miss time.
The Dolphins offense, dominant in the first half against Houston and for nearly all of its previous three wins over the Browns, Bears and Lions, was knocked out in the second half against the Texans with Armstead out of the lineup because of a pectoral. tension.
Of course, Miami had built a 30-point halftime lead and could afford to take their foot off the accelerator, but once Brandon Shell was on the left side for Armstead with Austin Jackson in his first start since Week 1, staying at right tackle, Houston had five sacks and four sacks on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in the limited action he saw while Armstead was sidelined.
The defense, which was strong throughout the win, will be crucial against a fierce 49ers pass rush led by 11 ½ sacks from former St. Thomas Aquinas Nick Bosa.
Armstead’s strain, as NFL Network reported Sunday night, isn’t as bad as a tear, but it should be enough to keep Armstead out at least against the 49ers and probably a bit longer.
The Dolphins will also monitor the condition of Jackson, who left Sunday’s game late with an ankle injury after a two-month recovery from a high ankle sprain.
It’s starting to get tough again for Miami as the calendar turns from November to December, starting with six games against teams that have a combined 38-29 (.567) record, with four on the road. During the streak, the Dolphins have faced five teams that now have a combined record of 15-39-1 (.344), with three of them at home.
This story will be updated.