What could have been in Denver

December, 7, 2010
12/07/10
12:30
AM ET
There is no doubting that Josh McDaniels was a hot prospect when Denver chose the then 32-year-old to replace Mike Shanahan in January 2009. He was sought after and if Denver didn't hire him, another NFL team would have snagged New England’s offensive coordinator.

But some questioned the hire, because the Broncos really needed help on defense. Shanahan left Denver in fine shape on offense. Originally, the plan was to keep offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, who had a good relationship with 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, and pursue a defensive coach.

Three of the seven people interviewed for the opportunity to replace Shanahan were defensive coordinators who are now NFL head coaches. Among the runners up were Steve Spagnuolo (now St. Louis’ coach), Raheem Morris (Tampa Bay’s head coach) and Leslie Frazier (Minnesota’s interim coach). All three have done well in their head-coaching roles.

The other coaches who interviewed for the job were Dallas interim coach Jason Garrett, former Denver assistant and current Houston offensive coordinator Rick Dennison and Miami assistant head coach Todd Bowles.

In the end, Denver went with McDaniels and will have to live with the idea that it let successful coaches like Spagnuolo, Morris and Frazier get away. If Minnesota doesn’t promote Frazier to the permanent job, it would not be a surprise if Denver takes a serious look at Frazier if he’d be interested in the job.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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