Mike McDaniel with the 49ers in June 2021.

There’s been a lot of speculation about who would be the next Miami Dolphins head coach since their Jan. 10 firing of Brian Flores (who’s now suing the NFL, the Dolphins, and the league’s other teams). Last week, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the team had selected San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel and Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for second interviews. On Sunday, both ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported that the Dolphins were finalizing a deal with McDaniel, and the Dolphins then confirmed that by officially announcing they’d hired McDaniel less than 20 minutes later:

McDaniel, who’s just 38, had been with the 49ers since 2017, serving as their run game coordinator from 2017-20 and as their offensive coordinator this past season. He did not call plays in that role, with head coach Kyle Shanahan keeping that responsibility himself, but as per Hal Habib of The Palm Beach Post, he did help formulate offensive game plans and made in-game suggestions on plays. Before his time with the 49ers, McDaniel worked as an offensive assistant with the Atlanta Falcons from 2015-16, with Shanahan as the team’s offensive coordinator during that time. His other past NFL work includes time as a wide receivers coach with Cleveland (2014) and Washington (2013), time as an offensive assistant with Washington from 2011-12 (Shanahan was the Washington OC from 2010-13), time as a Houston offensive assistant from 2006-08, and time as a Denver intern in 2005.

McDaniel’s hire is also interesting because of his personal background. He is biracial, and the son of a Black father, something that Zombie Deadspin sadly missed in a piece on him with a subhead of “Please stop and think before you inadvertently dub another young, white guy as the next hot NFL coaching prospect.” As such, he becomes the first minority hire of this NFL coaching cycle. And that’s notable with the guy he’s replacing being the one who’s currently suing the NFL over discrimination in hiring. The Dolphins’ decision to hire McDaniel certainly doesn’t cancel out everything raised in Flores’ lawsuit against either them or the league as a whole, and it doesn’t mean the league as a whole is doing a good job on diversity (especially considering the low representation of minority head coaches even after this hire), but it is notable that at least one minority hire was made this cycle. We’ll see how McDaniel does with the Dolphins.

[USA Today; image from a 49ers video on YouTube last June]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.