Mike McDaniel has been practically a son of Mike Shannahan and everything he believed in when it came to running the ball. Mike Shannahan passed down that knowledge to his real son Kyle and he shared it with Mike McD. It’s very similar to when the Pilgrims came over to early America except it was less talk about the virtues of the ground and pound running game and more here’s a blanket that I promise is good to use.
A true philosophy that I believe Mike McD(this is the name we’re trying to have be his nickname) will try and install is the zone blocking scheme. It’s not ridiculously different than what the Dolphins have been attempting to do for years, but I think that Mike McD will have more success in installing it compared to everyone else who has tried here.
The zone blocking scheme is predicated on athletic, nimble lineman who can get out in space and do well in that space. Specifically, the guards and center have to be able to be quick enough to combo block onto the second level(the linebackers) in this type of scheme. The tackles have to be able to get out in space and reach block a defensive end or outside linebacker as well.
This is interesting to think about because I’m not 100% convinced we have that at the moment on the roster. For example, Big Bob Hunt is listed at 327LBs. Daniel Brunskill, who was the 49er’s right guard last year, is listed at 257LBs. That’s a big difference. I’m not saying that Robert Hunt can’t move well in space, but I don’t think it’s a forgone conclusion that he’s the starting right guard next year for this particular offense. I’d say he probably will be but I think it’s worth saying. Naturally, decisions like that will be made in the next few months.
What I don’t know either is if Mike McD will be installing an offense that fits the strengths of Tua Tagovailoa, assuming he is the starting quarterback in 2022 or the offense that he has been most associated with? I suppose the easy answer is to say it will be a little of both but even saying that means that Tua will be under center much more than he was last year. Here’s a really good stat. The 49ers led the league at 57% of their snaps being under center. The Dolphins were at 31%. You’d think, based on everything we currently know about how Mike McD this will increase a little bit right?
I believe we’ll also be seeing not just a classic power-I, smash-mouth approach every week but a running game that is a bit innovative in its approach. We’ve seen the clip of Trent Williams, one of the best offensive tackles in football, against the Packers in the divisional round. Here it is again.
It’s going to be awesome to see stuff like that from time to time. That’s where the big brain of Mike McD, a guy who sees all the angles, comes into place. He uses a ton of motion and puts traditional positions in untraditional circumstances using what they do well to benefit the play. Like when he runs toss but he tosses the ball straight back and runs counter toss. That’s innovative and he does it for a reason. When the QB does his toss motion that tells the linebackers to flow the way he opens up but McDaniel will toss it and go straight ahead or the other way, away from linebackers.
It’s like Mike McD is trying to outthink the game by doing fairly obvious things. The difference is Mike McD doesn’t care if it looks weird or doesn’t work. He’s always trying to put the team in the best position to succeed. I care about that.
Everything I’ve heard and read about McDaniel is that he uses his player’s strengths to help mold his strategy. I don’t think it takes a member of Mensa to understand that he sold Grier and Ross on the fact that he can the most out of Tua. How that will look remains to be seen but I don’t have many doubts saying that a strong running game that uses athletic lineman opening up lanes where the running back makes once cut and gets upfield will be a big part of the offense going forward which is to say that the pure RPO offense that we saw last year is out the window. I think that’s the way to go.