New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels recently withdrew his accepted head coaching job with the Indianapolis Colts at the final minute. Considering he was on their radar a year ago, the San Francisco 49ers can feel fortunate things panned out the way they did.
Just over a year ago at this time, San Francisco 49ers fans were awaiting news who would be the next head coach of the franchise.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was one of the final names to replace one-and-done head coach Chip Kelly. And McDaniels seemed like a good hire, heading towards a victory in Super Bowl LI and at the helm of one of the most successful offenses in recent years.
But as he appeared to be the leading Niners candidate, McDaniels withdrew his name from consideration and elected to stay on in New England.
A year later, McDaniels pulled the same trick, only this time to the Indianapolis Colts and after he had officially accepted to be their next head coach.
Who knows the exact reasons McDaniels got cold feet this time. Some reports speculate Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is making attempts to groom his coordinator as an eventual replacement when the former decides to retire. Those same reports note a notable increase in pay for McDaniels, which is always an easy motivation.
Either way, the 49ers are fortunate not to have gone down that road.
McDaniels hasn't exactly had much success outside of New England. To be fair, neither has Belichick. But a shun like this is dangerous around NFL circles, especially considering McDaniels' would-be staff in Indianapolis had largely signed on with the team for 2018. Coaches remember that sort of thing. And as ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck pointed out, all this could seriously damage McDaniels' reputation for quite some time.
If McDaniels winds up taking over for Belichick in 2019, 2020, or at some point beyond, he'll be responsible for creating his own legacy, likely one that doesn't include future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, who'll turn 41 years old this upcoming season.
And if things don't work out, well, those coaching circles will remember.
The Niners, fortunately, didn't have McDaniels officially penciled in as their next head coach a year ago. He was a top candidate, but not the official one. But as Kevin Jones pointed out, the 49ers avoided this last-second change of plans:
Yes, it is funny how things work out.
49ers fans know what happened next. After missing out on McDaniels, former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan got the job, bringing with him a proven offensive scheme and desire to turn the roster over to a youth-first movement. And amid that nine-game losing streak to start his first year as head coach, Shanahan managed to hold the locker room together, as pointed out by Niners first-round draftee, defensive end Solomon Thomas.
Overall, Shanahan's stock is still rising high. In the meantime, McDaniels stock plummets after this latest move. And with all the head coaching controversies in Santa Clara that preceded Shanahan, it's nice to think the Niners "lucked out" by not getting their initial target.
Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to @PeterPanacy on Twitter.