Who is Mike McDaniel? Meet the most interesting coach in the NFL, who has Dolphins rolling

Stay thirsty, my friends.

If Dos Equis ever decides to rehire a spokesman for their beer, they should look no further than Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel. With his unique personality, explosive offense and quirky charisma, McDaniel’s ascent up the NFL ladder makes him perhaps the most interesting man in the NFL.

But McDaniel is a lot more than a pair of black-framed glasses and geeky surfer attitude. The former 49ers offensive coordinator is, as they say, coaching to where football is going. A 3-0 record heading into a matchup with the Bengals on “Thursday Night Football” should provide something of a measuring stick to see how far along the Dolphins are early on this season.

MORE: NFL power rankings — McDaniel has Dolphins humming in top spot

McDaniel’s attitude has already translated to good vibes in South Beach. Take it from a former Dolphins player:  

“(McDaniel’s) all about preaching confidence to a guy and building him up, rather than trying to break him down,” former NFL passer Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “And I think that’s translated well, so far to the field.”

Here’s more about the man who helped turn the Dolphins’ fortunes around:

Who is Mike McDaniel?

McDaniel, formerly the offensive coordinator for the 49ers, has had a very interesting path to get to the highest level of coaching in the NFL.

The 39-year-old McDaniel is a Yale graduate, and first cut his teeth in the NFL as a coaching intern under Mike Shanahan with the 2005 Broncos. The following year, McDaniel landed with Gary Kubiak (longtime Shanahan right-hand man from Denver days) in Houston as an assistant, working alongside Robert Saleh and Kyle Shanahan.

After a brief stop in the UFL, McDaniel returned to the NFL in 2011 with Washington, where he was on the same offensive staff as Kyle Shanahan, Matt LaFleur and Sean McVay. He would follow Shanahan from Washington to Cleveland to Atlanta before being hired again by Shanahan in 2017 as San Francisco’s run game coordinator. 

Even though he held the official OC job for just a year, McDaniel’s head coaching candidacy wasn’t without merit: A disciple of the Shanahan system, he rose through the ranks and helped the 49ers gain ground as one of the league’s best overall rushing attacks.

McDaniel got career years out of Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert in his first year as de facto offensive coordinator in San Francisco, as well as helping Elijah Mitchell become a breakout rookie star.

McDaniel parlayed his 2021 success into a number of head coaching interviews this past offseason: He interviewed with the Vikings as well as the Dolphins, ultimately getting hired by Miami in the wake of the Brian Flores firing.

There is, though, something of a misconception surrounding McDaniel’s coaching philosophy. While some believe he’s an analytics-driven coach, he’s dispelled the notion, saying the numbers are solely a piece of the equation.

“It’s a tool, like anything else, but you use it with every other piece of information to make the best decision,” McDaniel said when he was hired.

Still, the Dolphins’ propensity to go for it on fourth down this year and other similar decisions have painted him with the “new-age coach” label.

MORE: Tyreek Hill praises Dolphins’ Mike McDaniel after fourth-down call in coaching debut

Mike McDaniel’s shower comments

McDaniel is also pretty entertaining in the press room. The coach gained some notoriety for his quirky attitude in press conferences prior to his hiring in Miami, leading to a certain modicum of Twitter fame:

He didn’t leave his quirkiness in San Francisco, but he may have left his bar soap there. McDaniel hasn’t just freshened up the Miami offense, but also may have freshened himself up, as well. In September, the coach detailed his sleep schedule and his showering habits, both of which have changed now that he’s the boss in South Beach.

“I used to be able to really almost push it from game day to Wednesday without showering,” McDaniel told the media recently. “Now that would be obvious. I can’t hide. So you prioritize that (sleep). That’s something that I knew had to be adjusted from the moment I was assembling the coaching staff.”

Well, if Gatorade showers count, then McDaniel might be showering multiple times on Sundays this season.

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