Dolphins expected to hire head coach this week, with Mike McDaniel seemingly the top candidate

The Miami Dolphins head coaching search is now in its fourth, and likely final, week. 49ers OC Mike McDaniel has emerged as a favorite.

The Miami Dolphins hope to have their new head coach hired by the end of this week. There are increasing signs that San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel will get the job.

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Are Miami Dolphins close to hiring Mike McDaniel?

There were widespread rumors over the weekend that Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has emerged as a late candidate. But our understanding, based on conversations with multiple league sources and fairly obvious contextual clues, is that McDaniel is the focus of the team’s search now that Brian Daboll is unavailable.

McDaniel, 38, could be hired at any time. Had the 49ers beaten the Rams in the NFC Championship Game, he would have been unavailable until after the Super Bowl. But with San Francisco’s loss on Sunday, there’s nothing stopping the Dolphins from offering McDaniel the job — and him accepting it — this week.

McDaniel has a second interview scheduled with the Dolphins Monday. He met with them prior to the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. McDaniel is one of seven known candidates for the job.

The others are Daboll (who accepted the Giants’ HC job last week), Rams assistant coach Thomas Brown, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

Why McDaniel makes sense for Dolphins head coach

It’s our understanding that the Dolphins want to hire an offensive coach, with Daboll, McDaniel, and Moore the three known finalists. While many around the league believed last week that Daboll was the Dolphins’ No. 1 target, their actions suggested they were keeping an open mind — and perhaps even preferred McDaniel.

They were OK waiting until this week to interview their finalists, even if it meant missing out on Daboll. That’s exactly what happened. Daboll accepted the Giants’ job Friday, just hours after the Dolphins made the formal request for a second interview. Miami could still broaden its list of finalists. But as of Monday, it seemed like their choice was down to McDaniel and Moore, with McDaniel viewed by some within the organization as the favorite.

Dolphins management are keeping things quiet

All of this is second-hand, however. None of the principals conducting the search are talking, at least publicly, to reporters. The organization is so determined to keep its work quiet that club personnel are not authorized to announce or confirm interviews.

The Dolphins are one of nine teams that have made a coaching change this cycle. Three have already made hires: the Giants (Daboll), the Broncos (Nathaniel Hackett), and the Bears (Matt Eberflus). A fourth, the Raiders, are expected to announce Josh McDaniels as their pick shortly.

The Dolphins are McDaniel’s only known head coach interview — ever. But the team clearly sees the upside of the Yale-educated former Broncos ball boy who has helped construct an offense that didn’t need elite quarterback play to reach the Conference Championship Game.

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