Coach Kyle Shanahan calls the 49ers’ offensive plays, but he might no longer be able to call the shots for his two top offensive assistants.
Shanahan elevated Mike McDaniel and Mike LaFleur to “coordinator” positions following the 2017 season. A year later, Shanahan denied Arizona and Green Bay from interviewing McDaniel and LaFleur, respectively, from interviewing his assistants because he viewed those non-playing opportunities as lateral moves.
As part of the NFL’s newly adopted procedures in diversity, equity and inclusion, teams will no longer be allowed to deny assistant coaches from interviewing with a new team for a “bona fide” offensive, defensive or special-teams coordinator positions.
In order for permission to be automatically granted, the position cannot be "shared,” in which there it is a co-coordinator position or another coach or consultant on staff has any coordinating responsibilities.
A coordinator position is defined as job with responsibilities that include leadership of all meetings, reporting directly to the head coach and playing a role in the development of the game plan. The new role does not require game-calling duties during games.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would make the final, binding resolution if there is any dispute, according to the procedures the league approved on Tuesday.
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McDaniel, the 49ers’ run game coordinator, and LaFleur, the passing game coordinator, have major roles on Shanahan’s staff. Their influence has been particularly noticeable to the players during the team’s virtual offseason.
“They’ve been extremely involved and both of them could run their own offense right now -- probably could’ve years ago,” 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk said.
McDaniel, 37, and LaFleur, 33, have pre-recorded approximately 30 videos of 15 minutes apiece in which they install the team’s pass concepts and run game, Juszczyk said. Then, Shanahan takes the groundwork laid by McDaniel and LaFleur and goes into even greater depth with the nuances of the play.
Juszczyk said he anticipates a time in the near future when McDaniel and LaFleur are traditional offensive coordinators.
“I truly believe both of them are so capable and so ready to run their own offenses,” Juszczyk said. “It’s going to be a bummer for us when we lose one of them. They’re going to be really hard to replace because they’re really so valuable and important to this offense and contribute so much to what we do as a team.”
The league also announced enhancements to the Rooney Rule, in which teams will now be required to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coach vacancies; at least one minority candidate for any of the three coordinator vacancies; and at least one external minority candidate for the senior football operations or general manager position.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who was a finalist for the Cleveland Browns head-coaching position this year, is expected to be one of the top candidates for any openings after the 2020 season.