The San Francisco 49ers are still licking their wounds after an impressive season ended unceremoniously in the NFC Championship Game. Kyle Shanahan's squad won four out of their last five games in the regular season to clinch a playoff berth, and then pulled off big upsets over the Dallas Cowboys and No. 1 seed Green Bay Packers in the playoffs before being defeated by the rival Los Angeles Rams.
There's plenty to take away from the 49ers' 2021 season, but two major storylines were the emergences of offensive weapon Deebo Samuel and offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. It was always understood Samuel was a dangerous receiver, but he took his game to another level this year. Not only was he catching the ball, he was running it as well. The former South Carolina star became the first player in NFL history to record 1,400 receiving yards and 300 rushing yards in a single season. He had more receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns this past season than he did in his first two seasons combined.
McDaniel played a major role in San Francisco deciding to move Samuel around in the offense, and it's something the 49ers did more of as the year went on. Despite serving as an offensive coordinator for just one season, McDaniel found attention on the coaching carousel. His offensive ingenuity and personality made the 38-year-old attractive to teams looking for new leaders, and he found a new home as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Examples of how Samuel was used and the career numbers he put up were certainly included on McDaniel's resume. On Wednesday, Samuel joined CBS Sports HQ to talk about his journey to the NFL and the 2021 season. He also spoke about Coach McDaniel, and how maybe he helped him land a new gig.
"I won't take all the credit," Samuel said with a laugh. "But what me and Mike talked about at the beginning of the season, you put in the work, you get paid, I get paid -- in the humblest way. I talked to him for the past two days, I love that guy to death, he's one of the best coaches I've ever been around. He's not just a coach, but he's a mentor, a leader. He's a guy that I would love to be around outside of the stadium."
McDaniel is a coach who has always been held in high regard by Shanahan, as evidenced by him taking the assistant with him wherever he's gone. He's innovative in how he wants to spread the wealth on offense, and has commanded respect with how successful he's been in different roles. The Dolphins have found the man who will usher in a new era of football in Miami, and Samuel says it was a great decision.