Mike McDaniel is leading his first NFL team back home to San Francisco. The Miami Dolphins will play his former team this afternoon.
McDaniel doesn’t approach games as “must-win” contests. They are all those kinds of games and he wants his players to prepare each week, for that week. The fact that McDaniel, a first-time NFL head coach or any head coach at any level doesn’t play into it…but there is no way that it can’t.
Today, McDaniel takes on his family. In essence, his brother in Kyle Shanahan. This isn’t about rivalry, this is about one family taking McDaniel under their wings and helping him see where his future should be.
Earlier this week, Good Morning Football took a deep look at what this game means for McDaniel on that personal level and why the history with Kyle Shanahan is as much about his father too.
If you skimmed over that video, you should go back and watch it. It is very intriguing and really drives home the point of Miami vs. San Francisco today.
For some of us, the Dolphins and 49ers rivalry is a bit different. We are older fans who remember the Dan Marino vs. Joe Montana Super Bowl. Marino’s only trip to the big game. It was, like today, an almost unstoppable offense against one of the league’s best defenses.
The Super Bowl prompted a PEPSI commercial with Montana buying Marino a PEPSI, Marino said, “Next year, I’m buying!”
The 49ers and Dolphins are also about Don Shula and another great coach, Bill Walsh. The two didn’t battle each other often but they were linked for their ingenuity and contributions to the growth of the game.
There is also the little things like Stephen Ross flying to Stanford to woo Jim Harbaugh only to lose him to the 49ers who took them to the Super Bowl.
None of that matters today, not to Mike McDaniel. McDaniel is looking to get his team to 6 straight wins. He wants to end the day back on top of the AFC East and back in the 2nd speed spot. He is focusing on his game plan to expose weakness in the 49ers number one ranked defense.
For McDaniel, today is a game that will settle in later when he is back in his hotel room and the team has stopped working pre-week prep for the Chargers, and then, maybe. Maybe more likely the next time he shows up for dinner with the Shanahans in the off-season or a mid-week phone call from Kyle or his dad, Mike. And then, again, maybe.
Regardless, somewhere, in his busy mind, part of him knows that this game, in his first season, is special.