CLEVELAND — Who will serve as the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2020 and will new coach Kevin Stefanski allow that person to be the play-caller for the offense rather than handling himself the dual role of game manager and decision-maker?
Stefanski seemed open to the idea ceding control of the play-calling duties for the right offensive coordinator, but the Browns reportedly are not going to get a chance to bring in two of their leading candidates for the vacancy, according to NFL Network and NFL.com insider Ian Rapoport.
“The Browns have interest in either 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur or run game coordinator Mike McDaniel to come in as offensive coordinator,” Rapoport wrote on NFL.com earlier this week. “However, official requests may not go in because both are under contract and unlikely to be allowed out to go to Cleveland.”
LaFleur is the younger brother of Matt LaFleur, who led the Green Bay Packers to the NFC North Division championship and NFC Championship Game appearance in 2019, his first year as the on-field leader of the team.
Under LaFleur’s direction, the 49ers averaged 237.0 passing yards per game during the 2019 regular season. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 329 of his 476 attempts (69.1 percent) with 27 touchdowns against 13 interceptions.
Protecting Garoppolo was where the 49ers struggled, as he was sacked 36 times for 237 lost yards.
Prior to his tenure with the 49ers, which started as wide receivers/passing game specialist (2017) and continued as wide receivers/passing game coordinator (2018-2019), LaFleur spent time in the Atlanta Falcons and Browns organizations.
Now in his third year with the 49ers, McDaniel has been San Francisco’s run game coordinator for two seasons after serving as a run game specialist in 2017.
McDaniel broke into the NFL ranks as an offensive assistant and wide receivers coach with Washington, and then, joined the Browns as the receivers coach under Mike Pettine in 2014. After one year in Cleveland, McDaniel joined Atlanta’s staff for two seasons (2015-2016) before going to the 49ers.
With McDaniel as the run game coordinator, San Francisco’s rushers averaged 118.9 yards per game with Matt Brieda leading the way with 814 yards and three touchdowns on 153 carries during the 2018 season. Additionally, fullback Kyle Juszczyk earned his third consecutive Pro Bowl nod.
This season, the 49ers averaged 144.1 rush yards per game, which was second in the NFL. San Francisco gained 2,305 yards and scored 23 touchdowns on 498 carries, while averaging 4.6 yards per rushing attempt during the regular season.
In the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers lost running back Tevin Coleman early in the contest, but Raheem Mostert, who was cut by multiple teams before settling in San Francisco, totaled 220 yards and scored four touchdowns on 29 carries.
“The Browns are casting a wide net with no time constraints to hire,” Rapoport wrote. “Cleveland also considered both coaches as possible head coach candidates, but never requested them.”