Former Dolphins running back Matt Breida is a pending free agent, and he’d love to return to South Florida.
Especially if it’s to play for Mike McDaniel.
“It was awesome to play for him,” Breida said of 2017-2019, when McDaniel was run game coordinator in San Francisco.
Brieda began his career with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent.
“He was on the phone with me the entire draft,” Breida recalled. “They wanted me on the team. He wanted me on the team. He’s a players’ coach. Guys relate to him.”
McDaniel was scheduled for his second interview with the Dolphins on Friday. Now offensive coordinator for the 49ers, McDaniel and Kellen Moore of the Cowboys are known finalists.
It’s quite possible the Dolphins’ next head coach will be revealed this weekend.
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Breida noted McDaniel’s intelligence.
“He understands formations and motions,” Breida said. “We had a lot of formations but ran the same runs out of them. He just looks at things differently.”
Breida said McDaniel and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan are in lock-step.
“They’re aligned,” Breida said. “They think alike. He’s one of the best I’ve ever been around.”
Mike McDaniel would bring innovation
It was not lost on Breida how creative and flexible the 49ers’ offense appeared in a playoff run to the NFC championship game.
“It’s not always so complicated,” Breida said. “It’s the players and how they use them. Look at Deebo Samuel. He had been there for two years but they found a way to get involved him in the run game. It’s how you use your players. They know the players’ strengths. Get them in space. Go with power. Being able to motion or move guys around. How many times you seen an offensive tackle like Trent Williams go in motion? How many times? That causes a lot of problems for a defense.”
Every coach has their own way to motivate but Breida says McDaniel uses mutual respect to foster accountability.
“He is able to connect and talk with guys,” Breida said. “He’s not yelling in your face. He talks to you like a grown man or your son. He’s got a lot of guys out there who want to do well and do well for him.”
Mike McDaniel offers good vibe
If the Dolphins hire McDaniel. it would be because they perceive him as an up-and-coming, young (38 years old) offensive mind. They would be hoping he could make Miami’s offense more dynamic, exciting and productive.
But they would also be looking to change the tone in the building. Under Brian Flores, there was an extremely serious and sometimes abrasive Patriots Way-type approach.
McDaniel seems like a guy who likes to have some fun.
“He can be very funny,” Breida said. “You may not always get his sense of humor. But a lot of hidden jokes. Good guy. Good coach.”
Andrew Hawkins calls McDaniel scholar
A former NFL wide receiver who was coached by McDaniel in Cleveland in 2014 expressed his admiration for McDaniel on Friday, too.
“He’s truly a football scholar,” said Andrew Hawkins. “And I know there are a lot of brilliant minds in football. His approach is very, very unique and it’s why he’s able to exploit the norms. A lot of players swear by him. He has a very unique ability of identifying talent. And also knowing exactly how to get the most of out of a certain skill set. Players wear by him because players have had career years with him.”
Hawkins explained that he’s been around too many coaches who are using the same coaching points and talking points used since the 1960’s. He says McDaniel is very detailed and precise but also unique in how he processes ideas and teaches them.
“When I got with Mike, his whole philosophy turned everything I thought I knew upside down,” Hawkins said. “How you get off the line of scrimmage and here are the options. Here are the two techniques every DB uses. And if you do this he takes all the thinking out of it. How you approach catching the football. How to approach running after the catch. I was very very skeptical. But we did it his way and it worked. The way be broke down and explained strategies, it felt very Mr. Miyagi-like. You’re doing this and that and this and that and then one day it all ties together.”
Hawkins believes McDaniel will be a successful head coach.
“If you’re honest with players, that’s all they want,” Hawkins said. “To be honest and to put you in a position to be better. He’s put those guys in a position to be their best. He’ll get everyone pushing in one direction. Make the game easier for you. That’s what guys gravitate to. Kyle Shanahan, that’s his philosophy, too. I’m excited about Mike. When it comes to football minds, he may be the best of the bunch.”