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49ers in Five: How important was Mike McDaniel to the offense?

Joe Staley: “He’s incredibly important. He’s the Wizard of Oz.”

Now that the Miami Dolphins have officially hired 49ers Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel to be their new head coach, Kyle Shanahan has a huge hole to fill on his staff. When Joe Staley joined Niners Nation last month, he explained just how important McDaniel was to the 49ers’ offense.

“He’s incredibly important. He’s the Wizard of Oz for the run game, and not just for the run game, for the offense. His genius comes into the construction of a lot of the plays. The utilizing different people’s skill sets in different situations.

He has been by Kyle’s side since they really stated this whole journey together. I think he doesn’t get enough credit. His input is really trusted from Kyle, and his input and his ability to craft a lot of the plays is something that doesn’t get enough attention.

It’s like, you get a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle and he can piece everything together really, really quickly, and understand the overall concept. Whereas Mike McDaniel is the one that’s back there making the picture. He’s the artist that’s constructing this jigsaw puzzle and then gives it to Kyle and says, ‘You’re welcome.’ Then Kyle just kind of puts it all together with the passing game coordinator...and that brain trust works really, really well together.

It’s not downplaying Kyle’s ability to construct plays because he definitely does that as well. Kyle is the master play-caller that holds the key to everything, but McDaniel is the guy that really, really understands and can dial in a run game.”

The good news is that this is still Kyle Shanahan’s system, and while things are inevitably going to change, the basic structure of the system is always going to be somewhat stable as long as he’s the head coach.

The bad news is that Shanahan is now in uncharted waters. As Staley said, Mike McDaniel has been with Kyle for years, and was a trusted confidant when it came to the offense.

The true impact of this move likely won’t be known until we know how many coaches Mike McDaniel takes with him, and until the rest of the offensive staff is replenished (beyond Anthony Lynn). Kyle Shanahan made a fantastic choice when he chose to elevate DeMeco Ryans to defensive coordinator after Robert Saleh left. Hopefully he’ll make another now that Mike McDaniel is going to Miami.

Hear more about McDaniel’s departure and the rest of the coaching vacancies the 49ers have to fill in today’s 49ers in Five podcast.