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McDaniel reveals why 49ers' offense has no standalone plays

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49ers' Kyle Shanahan

Coach Kyle Shanahan allows for the involvement of a number of assistants on his 49ers staff to have a voice in the operation.

But there is a rigid criteria simply to have a play included in any given game plan.

Offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel disclosed there must be a purpose behind everything installed to face each opposing defense. So, even if a play fails in the first quarter, it could set up a more effective play later in the game.

He said Shanahan has taken that approach since early in his NFL coaching career. Shanahan served as offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans, Washington Football Team, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons before becoming head coach of the 49ers in 2017.

“The idea is to have no standalone plays in a game,” McDaniel said on this week's episode of the "49ers Talk" podcast. “What that means is, OK, let’s remove the success or failure factor. That play should influence the defense in one way, shape or form for another play.

"Even if a play doesn’t work, showing them the presentation of that play should make them worried about something that we have to play off of that.”

The 49ers use a dizzying variety of formations, shifts and motions to test defenses. And there are counter moves that can be run off every play the 49ers call during the course of a game. The 49ers’ rate of 73 percent usage of shifts and motions last season was the highest in the NFL, according to Next Gen Stats.


McDaniel was promoted to offensive coordinator in mid-January. McDaniel becomes the first individual to hold that title since Shanahan has been with the 49ers.

Previously, McDaniel was the 49ers’ run game coordinator, while Mike LaFleur was 49ers passing game coordinator. LaFleur left the 49ers in January to become Robert Saleh’s offensive coordinator with the New York Jets.

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McDaniel has worked 13 seasons with five different teams under Shanahan, and he said he sees this step as a natural progression in his career.

McDaniel, who turns 38 this week, said Shanahan creates an environment in which the coaches are constantly challenging themselves to gain more knowledge and information.

"One thing that's always hit with me is that there's a lot of people around the NFL that talk about what they know,” McDaniel said. “And, really, our culture and the way Kyle has always gone about things is that it's not about what we know. It's about what we don't know.”

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