McDaniel cracks perfect joke about facing Shanahan, 49ers


Mike McDaniel and Kyle Shanahan will face off for the first time as opposing head coaches in Week 13 when the 49ers host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at Levi's Stadium.

It's a matchup that has been a long time coming, as the two coaches first crossed paths in the NFL on the 2006 Houston Texans. Shanahan was a 27-year-old wide receivers coach and McDaniel was a 23-year-old offensive assistant under Gary Kubiak.

"I don't really look across the sidelines that much at opposing coaches," McDaniel said Monday. "So I don't think, on the field, I will feel anything different than any other game in regard to [Shanahan]. 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."

In typical McDaniel fashion, he couldn't get through a press conference without dropping a light-hearted joke.

"I will not be undertaking any Oklahoma drills as well this week on the field with him."

Both teams are blazing hot. The Dolphins (8-3) have won five straight games and are tied with the Buffalo Bills for first place in the AFC East. The 49ers (7-4) have rattled off four consecutive wins and sit atop the NFC West. 

"I think that's what is exciting is that you have two teams that have won several games in a row," McDaniel said. "They get to play each other, and something's got to give. And that's fun football for everybody."

McDaniel was a budding star on the 49ers' coaching staff from 2017-21, jumping on as the run game coordinator before being promoted to offensive coordinator last season. McDaniel is credited for unlocking receiver Deebo Samuel's potential and turning him into the star "wide back" who gained 1,770 yards from scrimmage last season.

The jury was still out on Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the No. 5 overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, entering this season, but McDaniel has him playing at an MVP level.  Tagovailoa leads the NFL in passer rating (115.7), yards per completion (12.9) and yards per attempt (9.9) to go along with 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Tagovailoa's top two options in the passing game -- Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle -- rank first and fifth in the NFL, respectively, in receiving yards. 

"[McDaniel] is doing what he always does, moving guys around well," Shanahan said Monday. "Using his personnel very good. The quarterback seems to be playing at a very high level. Their receivers are as scary as it gets, and I know just from seeing some of the crossover of that defense and things like that over the years, how active they are, how aggressive they are in their blitzes, how aggressive they are in their coverage.

"To me, it's not a coincidence why that team's playing so well."

RELATED: NFL Power Rankings: Where 49ers stand after win over Saints

Former 49ers running back Raheem Mostert recently made headlines for criticizing San Francisco in the way the organization handled his knee injury last season. Mostert also warned the 49ers that he and Jeff Wilson Jr., another former member of the San Francisco backfield, are going to "go crazy" on Sunday.

For the coaches, however, it's just another game.

"I have a very high opinion of the 49ers franchise and players, coaches, staff members," McDaniel said. "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."

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