49ers next GM still TBD after Saturday interviews – The Mercury News
At some point, the wayward 49ers will hire a general manager to not only form a power couple with their next coach but also address a cavernous roster in need of playmakers.
Saturday marked a key step in that direction. George Paton and Terry McDonough had follow-up interviews for the general manager opening, doing so in Atlanta alongside the franchise’s projected coach, Kyle Shanahan.
Although either GM finalist can be hired any time, Shanahan officially can’t sign on until his duties as the Falcons offensive coordinator are completed after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.
Sunday’s Pro Bowl illustrates the 49ers roster’s sad state: the franchise won’t be represented by any player in the all-star game for the first time since 2005. In contrast, the 2012 49ers had 10 earn Pro Bowl honors, although they couldn’t participate because they were in Super Bowl XLVII.
It’s unknown if the upcoming roster upheaval will be controlled by the next GM or Shanahan, assuming he becomes coach.
Paton, the Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager, recently was among six candidates interviewed for the Indanapolis Colts GM job that became open last Saturday. Terry McDonough, an Arizona Cardinals executive, was a late addition to the 49ers’ interview list two weeks ago.
The 49ers ousted general manager Trent Baalke and coach Chip Kelly on New Year’s Day, touching off a four-week search that’s included interviews with eight GM candidates and six prospective coaches. CEO Jed York hoped his next GM and coach would have a history together but noted it wasn’t a necessity.
“They have to have a good respect for each other and a good understanding and know that they have similar visions and philosophies on building a football team,” York said on Jan. 2.
Baalke presided over the 49ers’ personnel department since March 2010 when he replaced Scot McCloughan. Others who’ve held the GM title or wielded personnel control since their last Super Bowl-winning season of 1994: John McVay, Dwight Clark, Bill Walsh, Terry Donahue and Mike Nolan.
Paton (pronouced Pay-ton) recently completed his 10th season with the Minnesota Vikings. He worked under general manager Rick Spielman not only in Minnesota but also on the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins.
Paton got promoted to assistant general manager five years ago, and pro personnel has been his primary focus in the NFL since 2000. He played defensive back at UCLA form 1988-91 and went on to play professionally in Italy and Austria.
McDonough got his NFL start as a 49ers scouting intern in 1989. He has spent the past three seasons overseeing the Cardinals’ college and pro personnel departments, under general manager Steve Keim. McDonough has scouted NFL talent for over 25 years, also worked with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, including on the latter’s 2000-season Super Bowl team.
McDonough is a Boston native, the son of former Boston Globe and NFL reporter Will McDonough, and the brother of Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough.
Among those who withdrew themselves from consideration or rebuffed the 49ers’ interest during a four-week search were Green Bay’s Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst, New England’s Nick Caserio, Kansas City’s Chris Ballard and Seattle’s Trent Kirchner.
When York began his GM search, he noted that the 49ers have several resources to restock their roster, starting with the No. 2 overall draft pick and perhaps nearly $100 million in salary cap space for free agency.
“There are some pieces here,” York added. “I don’t think there are enough pieces here, but there are some pieces that we can build around. But, again, it’s got to be a partnership.
“It’s got to be a collaboration between me, the head coach, and the general manager so that we can get this thing right.”