Mike McDaniel looks more like a hoodie-wearing, Silicon Valley tech bro than a football coach, but the Miami Dolphins hired the wunderkind from the San Francisco 49ers to become their next head coach.

Mike McDaniel Miami Dolphins head coach San Francisco 49ers OC
Mike McDaniel, the former San Francisco 49ers’ offensive coordinator, chats with a player during warmups at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Image: Michael Zagaris/Getty)

McDaniel is a Yale graduate and former Ivy League football player who the Dolphins hope can become their version of Sean McVay. The Dolphins and McDaniel agreed to a four-year contract.

McDaniel, 38, spent one season as offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers under head coach Kyle Shanahan where he was regarded as a highly-touted rising star in the coaching ranks. The 49ers went to the NFC Championship Game this season, but lost to divisional rival the LA Rams.

Shanahan hired McDaniel as the 49ers run game coordinator in 2017. McDaniel spent four seasons in that role before Shanahan promoted him to offensive coordinator in 2021.

Last season, the 49ers lost both of their coordinators to the New York Jets when the Jets hired San Francisco’s defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as their new head coach. Saleh then hired the 49ers OC Mike LaFleur to become the Jets’ signal-caller. When both Saleh and LaFleur bolted, Shanahan didn’t think twice about tapping McDaniel to become their new OC.

The Dolphins are +4000 odds to win Super Bowl 57, according to a look-ahead line on the NFL futures board via DraftKings.

Controversy in Miami

Although the hiring of McDaniel should be big news in South Beach, it barely blipped on the radar because of the current scandal involving former head coach Brian Flores and team owner Stephen Ross.

Flores is suing the Miami Dolphins, the NFL, and numerous teams for racial discrimination. Ross fired Flores after consecutive winning seasons. Flores refused to lose games on purpose and help the Dolphins tank, which drew the ire of Ross. Flores also claimed that Ross offered him a bonus of $100,000 for every game that the Dolphins lost. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is investigating the tanking matter, but it feels like it will be another scandal that the league will quickly sweep under the rug. Flores put a promising career on the line to make a stand with the lawsuits.

McDaniel identifies as biracial with a black father and a white mother. He’s now one of four minority head coaches in the NFL along with Mike Tomlin from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ron Rivera of the Washington Commanders, and Saleh from the Jets.

Kellen Moore, the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys and a former NFL quarterback, was on the shortlist of potential candidates to become the next head coach of the Dolphins. However, McDaniel edged out Moore.

McDaniel becomes the 11th head coach of the Dolphins this century. The Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since the 2000 season. In the last 21 years, the Dolphins posted just seven winning seasons, with Flores securing two in a row, but they bubbled the postseason both times. The Dolphins went 10-6 in 2020, and 9-8 in 2021.

McDaniel is of no relation to Josh McDaniel, who is the new head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

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