And his latest addition on the evening of Thursday, February 10 just hours after wrapping up his first introductory press conference is a popular 49ers member…who happens to have ties to McDaniel’s newest team the Miami Dolphins.
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First reported by longtime NFL writer and Outkick NFL senior reporter Armando Salguero, 49ers wide receivers coach Wes Welker is soon to be joining McDaniel’s first staff.
And for Welker, the two-time All-Pro is soon to be returning to the place where some of his NFL beginnings took place — with the Dolphins.
Jeremy Klamp of Dolphins Digest even posted a throwback picture of Welker in a Dolphins uniform:
‘Big Poach’ by Miami
News of Welker’s departure sent ripple effects in the Bay Area, especially from those who cover the 49ers.
David Lombardi, who covers the team for The Athletic, called the move a big pilfer by the former 49ers offensive coordinator.
“Big poach for Mike McDaniel,” Lombardi tweeted on Thursday night. “Just this week, Deebo Samuel gave big credit to Wes Welker for coaching him into stardom.”
But Welker isn’t the only key departure for S.F. and add-on for McDaniel at Miami.
“The 49ers must also replace TE coach Jon Embree,” Lombardi tweeted.
Embree coached George Kittle throughout his entire NFL career and made all of his Pro Bowl appearances under Embree’s tutelage. Welker, arguably, had a profound impact on a once struggling unit.
Under Welker, the 49ers saw Brandon Aiyuk go from the doghouse to putting together a career-best season in receiving yardage (826) and average yards per catch (14.8) per Pro Football Reference. Aiyuk wasn’t the only one who flourished under Welker, though.
Jauan Jennings became a late bloomer for the 49ers, including catching two touchdown passes in the comeback win in Week 18 over the Los Angeles Rams 27-24 in overtime. Of course, who can forget the season Deebo Samuel had? Not just in the backfield, but his team-high 77 catches, 1,405-yard and 6 touchdown season which led to Samuel’s first Pro Bowl nod?
The 49er receiving core even wore specially designed shirts bearing their position coach’s name:
Welker, after a season away from the NFL following his last stop with the St. Louis Rams in 2015, dove into coaching in 2017 by joining the Houston Texans as an offensive and special teams assistant in 2017-2018. But for the next three seasons, he coached up the 49er wideouts under Kyle Shanahan — heading to two NFC championship games together including winning the conference title in his first season in the Bay Area.
Who Could Replace Welker?
Already, the next 49ers WR coach has huge shoes to fill, noted below by Lombardi.
But, per Matt Zenith of On3sports, the Dolphins interviewed New Orleans Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson — which was before the Welker news.
Perhaps the former Tulane head coach could be a gain for Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers. If not him, there’s another Ex-head coach who has a background in receivers who is available: David Culley.
Or, Shanahan could aim to lure in someone who is a fast riser in the WR coaching ranks — like Chris Beatty of the L.A. Chargers who squeezed out another 100-catch season out of the aging Keenan Allen and produced a career-year from Mike Williams.
Another strong possibility is Keith Williams of the Baltimore Ravens, who served as the passing game coordinator for the team but before joining the Ravens, worked as a personal WR coach for Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams — the latter he once recruited to Fresno State when Williams served as the school’s receivers coach. Williams also has lots of Bay Area ties, having coached at Solano College (2000), San Jose State (2001-2004) and San Jose City College (2005-2008).
McDaniel, again, is off and running with putting together a 49ers-esque staff in South Beach.