Whenever times get tough, people look for answers. More specifically, they look for an answer. They look for one thing or person that they can point to as the reason why things are going so poorly. In the case of the 49ers’ offensive struggles, that thing appears to be the absence of Mike McDaniel on Kyle Shanahan’s staff. Yesterday on 95.7 The Game, however, Peter King pushed back against that idea.
“I think Mike McDaniel was more of a Deebo whisperer than a quarterback whisperer. I think Mike McDaniel was hugely instrumental in changing the direction of Deebo Samuel’s career. I don’t necessarily think that he was as important as say, Kyle Shanahan was in working with the quarterback...My gut feeling is that Kyle Shanahan probably had as much to do as anybody with the play of Jimmy Garoppolo last year during the season. So I understand the thought about missing Mike McDaniel and all that, and it’s a valid thought, but I’m just not sure it’s real.”
There has been a marked difference in the effectiveness of Samuel as a running back this season. This year’s yards per carry of 6.5 is technically higher than last year’s 6.2, but that number is hugely propped up by one explosive 51-yard carry against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. Without that one play, Samuel’s yards per carry in 2021 drops all the way to 3.75.
However, pointing to McDaniel’s absence alone for the offense’s struggles would be a gross oversimplification. The 49ers made nine new hires and five title changes to their coaching staff this offseason. Not all of those were on the offensive side of the ball, but most were. For example, Brian Griese had never been a quarterback coach before this season, and he also had virtually no interaction with Jimmy Garoppolo before Jimmy returned to the team late in the preseason. It is going to take some time for all of these new coaches to get acclimated to their new positions and to get on the same page with each other.
“I just think part of this is adapting to a new coaching part,” King continued, “Adapting to some new players, and adapting to a team that thought he was gone forever. I’m not making excuses; I’m just saying I don’t think that this one game should be the be-all-end-all that you think of when you think, “Oh boy, we’re screwed with Garoppolo now.”
The good news is that if Jimmy does nothing else other than eliminating just some of the turnovers, the 49ers will have a shot to win every game. Whether he’s capable of doing that on a consistent basis will be something we’ll find out over the course of the season.
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