It appears Josh McDaniels will have his next chance to be an NFL head coach in the coming weeks, and this time it seems like it’s an opportunity he wants to pursue.

McDaniels, the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots and former head coach of the Denver Broncos, is scheduled to have head coaching interviews Saturday with the Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers. It is the Patriots’ bye week as the AFC’s top playoff seed, and McDaniels is permitted to participate in head coaching interviews under league rules.

It remains to be seen if McDaniels will continue to pursue vacancies. He’s been seemingly indifferent toward head coaching possibilities in previous years, sometimes interviewing and sometimes declining. But he has expressed an interest in being a head coach again under the right circumstances, and this could be the time.

McDaniels’ first NFL head coaching opportunity went very badly. He was fired by Denver in December 2010 after a record of 11-17 in less than two full seasons.

McDaniels failed to make things work with quarterback Jay Cutler, who was traded to the Chicago Bears. He was fined $50,000 by the NFL in 2010 for failing to immediately report an infraction when a video employee improperly videotaped a portion of a 49ers’ walk-through in London the day before the teams played there. But mostly McDaniels simply failed to win.

He has rehabilitated his coaching reputation, though, in his second stint as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator under Coach Bill Belichick, working with quarterback Tom Brady. He is, at age 40, older and presumably wiser now.

Yes, it is easier to look good as an offensive coordinator when working with Brady. But Belichick and McDaniels did their most extraordinary work this season when Brady was serving his four-game Deflategate suspension. The Patriots went 3-1 with backup Jimmy Garoppolo and then, after Garoppolo got hurt, rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett filling in at quarterback.

The Patriots are the top seed in the AFC playoffs and could be en route to yet another Super Bowl with Belichick and Brady. Garoppolo’s value has soared. He could get the Patriots a first-round draft choice (and perhaps another pick) in an offseason trade that would result in him being a starter elsewhere, maybe in Cleveland. And McDaniels could land his next head coaching job.

The complication is interested teams would have to wait until the Patriots’ season ends to officially hire McDaniels. That might not be until after the Super Bowl. But McDaniels is in high demand and it’s possible a team will wait to get him.

The trend a year ago was for teams with head coaching vacancies to hire or promote offensive coordinators. If that continues, McDaniels and Kyle Shanahan of Atlanta, who oversaw the league’s top-scoring offense, could have their picks of jobs. Shanahan is scheduled to interview with the Rams, Jaguars, 49ers and Broncos on Friday and Saturday, two each day.

The Rams, Jaguars and Niners had a combined record this season of 9-39. There are reasons those coaching jobs are available. But they are not necessarily hopeless situations.

The Rams have quarterback Jared Goff, the top overall selection in last year’s draft, tailback Todd Gurley and the lure of the Los Angeles market.

The Jaguars have a patient owner in Shahid Khan. They have a young quarterback, Blake Bortles, who showed signs of significant progress last season before regressing this year, and talented youngsters on defense.

The 49ers are a once-proud franchise that now provides a blank canvas. They are starting over with a new, to-be-hired general manager as well as a new coach, and a new quarterback is sure to arrive soon after. If one can overlook the dysfunction of recent years that led the team’s chief executive officer, Jed York, to have to remind everyone during a news conference this week that owners cannot be fired, there are possibilities there for the right, very confident GM, and the right, very confident coach.

One of those situations could be the one McDaniels deems sufficiently attractive to leave the comforts of working with Belichick and Brady and give head coaching another shot.


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