Today Josh McDaniels took his name out of the running to become the 49ers’ next head coach. According to a source who spoke to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, the job was “(McDaniels’) if he wanted it,” and he had a “change of heart” during the interview process.
It was reported by multiple outlets that McDaniels had a close relationship with ESPN’s Louis Riddick, who was thought likely to come aboard to work with McDaniels and serve as the 49ers’ next general manager. As a result, McDaniels’ announcement took Riddick’s name out of the running for that position in Santa Clara as well.
Riddick appeared on ESPN’s “Russillo and Kanell” show today, and here’s what he said about McDaniels’ decision. I added extra emphasis to Riddick’s quotes that caught my ear.
Russillo: “We know that you’ve been linked to San Francisco for the last couple weeks, interviewing. They’re now the only team that’s still looking to get that coaching position filled. McDaniels pulling out. What are you allowed to talk to us about?”
Riddick: (five-second pause) “I think for Josh … and myself, and I think for anyone who’s looking at roles like this, you want to make sure that your comfort level for your family, for yourself, professionally — especially when you’re the head coach — there are things he’d like to do differently, thinks he’d like to have in place, a comfort level that he’d like to be at as far as himself and his family, in order for him to take that next step again, and kind of get out from under the umbrella of Bill and New England.
“And if he doesn’t feel it, or for whatever reason it doesn’t seem like it’s the right time for him, then you know he’s not going to go. And that’s kind of what he alluded to today. And that’s something that him and I have talked about. I’ve known this about him that he wanted to make sure that he had absolutely everything in line and in place the next time he decided to go ahead and take that move. He decided that right now wasn’t the right time.
“I commend him for it, because he’s in a position where he can be choosy. Where he can pick and choose where he wants to go. He’s got a great job under a great coach with a great quarterback, and another quarterback behind him who’s going to be great, too. So you understand why he did it that way. I can relate to that.
“I know I’ve been in organizations already where the people I worked for are less than desirable. OK? And I don’t want to go into any situation — and I’m not saying, this isn’t making any kind of reference to San Francisco. It’s just that you understand that you have a very good idea of what you’re looking for moving forward. And if it doesn’t line up for you, your family, and for your long-term, then you bow out and you look for the next opportunity, if and when it ever comes down the line. So, you give Josh the benefit of the doubt. You give him more than the benefit of the doubt. He has the right to do what he wants to do, what makes him happy. So that’s what he’s doing.”
Riddick tried to veer away from the cliff when he said “this isn’t making any kind of reference to San Francisco.”
What’s also interesting is that Riddick was so positive about the opportunities presented by the 49ers a couple of weeks ago.
Right now I think the most appealing job is the one where you’re going to be able to go in and start fresh with a GM and a head coach, and where they’re really gonna let you build it, and put in the foundation, and then let everything build and rise from there. Which to me, even though it’s a daunting task given the fact that personnel-wise this roster has been depleted, I like the situation that is coming to bear in San Francisco. I like what Jed York is trying to do as far as saying, hey look, I tried to piece-meal this thing together over the past three years.
I think he will need to be patient, he already said he will be patient. He will give, whoever is given that position, the support and the time to get that done. So, I think in that way, when we come full circle with it, it winds up becoming a very attractive situation, as long as he makes good on everything he said he would.
Now he’s saying McDaniels can be “choosy,” which implies that the 49ers’ situation isn’t an optimal choice.
McDaniels can talk about family all he wants, and I’m sure that in a perfect world the McDaniels clan would live in the same house forever and their kids would attend the same schools, etc. But c’mon. McDaniels took a job in Denver seven years ago, and the Bay Area is a great place for rich families. If the job was close to perfect in McDaniels’ mind, he would’ve taken it, and it sounded like Riddick would’ve happily followed if the opportunity presented itself. Now both men seem pretty happy that they avoided a landmine, and for the 49ers to have their top choice turn them down indicates that they remain a lower-tier franchise in the eyes of some NFL people.