Sure, Mike McDaniel seems cool, but he’s not worthy of a head coaching gig yet

Sure, Mike McDaniel seems cool, but he’s not worthy of a head coaching gig yet


Mike McDaniel is the latest coordinator to be dubbed a football genius.

Mike McDaniel is the latest coordinator to be dubbed a football genius.
Image: Getty Images

Be careful what you tweet for, people of the online realm. Mike McDaniel, the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator who has gone viral for his “adorable” news conferences featuring references to Mike Jones and engaging answers, is ticking off all the boxes to be the next trendy, young, white guy who takes a head coaching position before one of the many deserving Black candidates.

I can’t predict the internet, so don’t blame me for what trends, but if you haven’t seen any clips of McDaniel, who looks more like Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo than a football coach, he’s kind of entertaining upon first watch.

I viewed that a few times and failed to catch what prompted the Mike Jones outburst, so maybe I’m missing the context and it was as clever as it’s purported to be, but it seems a little forced. Forgive me if my initial reaction isn’t, “Holy shit, look how funny and smart this guy is.”

The current coaching trend is leaning toward “brilliant, young offensive minds,” white guys like Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan, Kliff Kingsbury, Zac Taylor, Matt LaFleur, Kevin Stefanski, Matt Rhule, Brandon Staley, and Nick Sirianni. Add in that McDaniel went to Yale, and it’s blood in the water for NFL teams looking for a coach.

Again, I’m not the curator of the internet, but I’ve yet to see stories about Byron Leftwich or Eric Bieniemy with headlines like “49ers Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel is the Most Interesting Man in Football” or “Mike McDaniel is a football assassin disguised as a hipster.”

Look at the caption on this tweet:

I don’t know who Andrew Hawkins is or how much weight should be put behind him saying, “I promise you there is not a brighter football mind in the League,” but it says a lot about the power of internet groupthink that a Black guy with “A call for justice shouldn’t warrant an apology” on his profile backdrop would tweet a statement like that.

Again, if I could hand select what gets posted to the internet, I would, but I don’t, so I’m making sure you know I wasn’t one of the many extolling the brilliance of a McDaniel, who already had an interview for the Dolphins head coaching vacancy basically a year after being promoted to offensive coordinator.

He might be brilliant, he might be the next Josh McDaniels, but he’s not more qualified than any of the Black coaches who just got fired — including Brian Flores — or the longtime coordinators who can’t seem to get hired.

The Texans may be the most egregious example of not giving a Black coach a fair shot, eyeing Josh McCown, who moonlighted as a high school football coach for a year, to replace one-and-done David Culley, but McDaniel is a perfect example of how qualified Black candidates get overlooked.

Is he young? Yes.

Has he ever come in contact with Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay? Yes.

Have people on the internet called him brilliant? Yes.

Is he a media darling? Yes.

Is he white? Yes.

Is he a good head coach? Hell if I know.

You could say Black candidates should be more entertaining with the media, that a little charisma goes a long way. How affable you are in a news conference shouldn’t matter, and there are a million problematic things with telling a Black person that they need to shuck and jive for a job.

I know McDaniel is just being himself — which honestly isn’t as interesting as Twitter would lead you to believe — but being yourself is all it should take for Black coaches to get a shot, as well.





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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.