The San Francisco 49ers have formally fired their head coach and general manager, and as mentioned earlier, names of candidates for various positions are starting to leak out. We have seen some GM candidates, and we are also getting head coach names. The latest comes from Tom Pelissero, who is reporting the team are among the teams reaching out to New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Fooch’s update: Patriots/NFL reporter Ben Volin confirmed the news.
I am not entirely sure what this says about the process if they are considering interviewing GM and head coach candidates at the same time. It is possible they might look at McDaniels in a role similar to what they gave Mike Nolan back in 2005. It also could be that they might want to just get interviews happening so they don’t fall behind teams interviewing coaches but not GMs. Of course, if you don’t know what philosophy your new GM is installing, interviewing coaches could be counter-productive. It is also possible the organization is planning a quick GM process, and want to have the notable names available for interviews if the opportunity arises.
My biggest concern is we see something similar to what Woody Johnson talked about a couple years ago during the Jets hiring process. The Jets owner said he thought he would ultimately be the one who hires the coach, “but I will certainly listen to the new general manager." He added:
"Ideally, you'd like to hire the general manager and then the coach. It depends what the environment looks like today, like who's available and what are the circumstances of that availability, whether the competition (of another team wanting the candidate) is a factor. So I'll kind of play it as we see it today, what it looks like as it unravels."
There are various limitations to factor in, but I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I would prefer to see the 49ers hire someone to run football operations, and then that person handles all the specifics, including the GM, the coach, and so forth. Worst case scenario in my mind involves Jed York continuing to play a significant role in the coach hiring process. He is entitled to do it, but I just don’t see how it turns out well. It would feel like just another repeat of the existing process that has led to three years of problems, and plenty more before Jim Harbaugh arrived.