This may not be the most popular idea out there, it may even be the least popular. But as the Harbaugh hunt seems to have hit rocky shores courtesy of the Miami Dolphins and a bucket load of cash, it would only be prudent to consider other options.
To call McDaniels a 'other option' would perhaps be doing my opinion on him somewhat of a disservice. My initial hopes for a new Niners coach were directed firmly at Jon Gruden. Next on the my list were Charlie Weiss and Brian Billick. Since the Harbaugh train left the station I must admit I have been intrigued by the prospect of what he might bring. However, upon further consideration I have come to the conclusion that if Gruden is not interested then Jed York needs to do all he can to get McDaniels before he ends up somewhere else.
A big part of my belief that McDaniels is the man for the job is due to what someone on here yesterday called a 'man crush'. The context of the 'man crush' was in relation to Nate Davis and fans' hopes of glory for practice squad players. My man crush however is for all things Belichick.
I know the whole Belichick coaching 'school', 'tree', 'branch' etc. is looked at by many as somehow being a dirty word unworthy of mention. With the history the 49ers and the Bill Walsh coaching tree that has spread its roots deeply and firmly around the NFL, it is understandable that some Niner fans would find the prospect repugnant.
We are at a crossroads with the 49ers as a franchise. The culture of losing and under achieving is taking a firm grip on the Franchise, It is no longer the 1980's (as Singletary and his stoneage tactics so dramatically illustrated), Whilst a version of the West Coast system still exists in the NFL it is no longer the system it was 20-25 years ago. There is a new system out there. A hybrid west coast/spread offense that replaces a large part of the run game with short passes, and THE best place to find this system is among any of Belichicks offensive coordinators. Weiss has worked wonders with KC this season, yet for some strange reason is now heading back to the College ranks. That leaves Josh McDaniels as the only viable option to install the required offense that will make the 49ers great again.
For someone yet to turn 35, McDaniels already has a very good looking CV. Not only does he have the extensive experience of working with Belichick, he also served under Nick Saban during his time at Michigan State.
His experience within the Patriots system was not limited to the Offensive side of the ball. He spent time as a defensive assistant and positions coach between 2001 and 2005, thus giving him a reasonable insight into what is expected on the other side of the ball. As OC and QB coach, his record is quite simply astounding. As the offensive architect of the Patriots record breaking 2007 season it would be easy to detract from McDaniels acheivment and give all the accolades to Brady, Moss, Belichick etc. I'm sure however, if you ask any one of these guys where a large part of the credit is due and they will point you in the direction of McDaniels.
Outside of the 3 Super Bowl rings and the juggernaut '07 season, perhaps McDaniels greatest work to date was the way in which he coaxed a 11-5 season out of a backup QB that hadn't started a game in almost 4 years. Even though the Patriots missed the playoffs that season, it is a wonder they came as close as they did to making it. Downgrading from Tom Brady to Matt Cassell and finding a way to win 4 more games than this years NFC west winners is very impressive.
The lessons McDaniels has hopefully learned since his Denver departure will have sunk in. The record he accumulated while in Colorado was disappointing to say the least. Not all of the blame can be directed at McDaniels. The Broncos are a franchise similar to the 49ers; Both have had success in the last 20 years, both can attribute that success directly and indirectly to Bill Walsh, both have been led by HoF QB's that have left behind ridiculously high levels of expectation for any who have followed them, both have made questionable personnel and draft decisions, both have had a terrible talent base at one time or another, and more recently, both have struggled to find a new identity amongst the high expectations of an impatient fan base used to success. You may presume that this would equate to McDaniels likely failing in a similar fashion to that in which he failed with the Broncos. I beg to differ though. the 49ers are further down their road of failures and have struggled longer without any real identity, the Broncos are only part of their way down that road.
Right now, Josh McDaniels would be a perfect fit for the 49ers. He would bring a modern offensive system, a proven track record of grooming QB's and a swagger and arrogance that the 49ers have not had in a decade. Whilst some find his personality grating and offensive, I personally find it to be something I want to see in my Coach and my team. I don't want my Coach thanking an opponent for teaching us a lesson, what the hell is that all about? I seem to recall George Seifert had all the personality of puddle, Im sure Walsh, while the legend was he could walk on water and turn it to wine, pissed some people off along the way.
As for the Belichick man crush, well as I have said, i have one too. I can forgive him that. And if cutting all the sleeves off of my sweaters will get the 49ers into the playoffs then that is something I am willing to consider.