McDaniels is not interested, according to a source I spoke with Thursday.
The 49ers still hope to hire Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, but they reportedly reached out to McDaniels as a potential fallback while the Miami Dolphins became more active in pursuing Harbaugh, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The 49ers have interviewed Harbaugh and Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland led a contingent that flew from Miami to the San Francisco Bay Area to meet with Harbaugh beginning Thursday morning, ESPN Insider Chris Mortensen reported.
McDaniels, 34, is more likely to land as a coordinator than as a head coach this season. Questions about the 49ers' current leadership -- specifically whether the team has a winning mix with third-year president Jed York, first-year general manager Trent Baalke and executive vice president Paraag Marathe -- made the head coaching job there less appealing to McDaniels following a turbulent run with the Broncos, the source said.
For the 49ers, hiring McDaniels as head coach months after the NFL punished him for illegally videotaping a 49ers walk-through practice would seem stupefying, in my view. Of course, we do not know how serious the 49ers would have been about McDaniels, so I'm reluctant to judge them too harshly for merely reaching out. Might the 49ers have been more interested in McDaniels as a coordinator?
At the very least, it's revealing when a recently fired candidate has no interest in the 49ers. It says McDaniels remains confident he'll land a more appealing job once he repairs his image through a successful run as a coordinator. It also suggests high-profile candidates could elude the 49ers, as the case appeared to be during the team's search for a general manager.
Landing Harbaugh would change perceptions. If Harbaugh accepts a more lucrative offer from the Dolphins, however, the 49ers will look like a team that overplayed its hand and misled fans when York said money would be no object.
The 49ers might then have to settle for another tier of candidates. That would not necessarily prevent them from hiring a capable coach. None of us knows whether Harbaugh would fare better than Marty Mornhinweg, Brian Billick, Jackson or any other potential candidate.
We do know the 49ers wanted Harbaugh, however. Watching him take a job with the Dolphins or anyone else would sting.