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49ers to interview Terry McDonough Friday [Update]

The 49ers could land the perfect guy for the job, but the process raises at least one or two questions for me.

Fooch’s update: It would likely appear the timing is coincidental with Nolan and Brandt. I have heard he has been under consideration prior to Nolan and Brandt mentioning him. Additionally, Cam Inman had this to say:

The San Francisco 49ers are adding another name to their list of general manager candidates. Matt Maiocco reported Tuesday evening that the 49ers will interview Arizona Cardinals VP of player personnel Terry McDonough on Friday. The 49ers have interviews also planned next Monday with Seattle Seahawks executives Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer.

This particular addition to the list raises some questions in my mind. It is possible the team has been planning this interview for a while, and it only now leaked out. However, a day ago, former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan declared Terry McDonough to be the best candidate for the job. This followed Gil Brandt tweeting on Monday that he is confused about why McDonough is not among the interview candidates.

I’ve posted Nolan’s full comments below, but essentially, he remembers him from his time in Baltimore. McDonough was eastern college supervisor for Ozzie Newsome when Nolan was an assistant there. He followed his career and thinks he knows how to pick players.

McDonough has extensive experience, first entering the NFL in 1989 as a scouting intern with the 49ers. He worked briefly in the World League, and then joined the Cleveland Browns. He stayed with them when they moved to Baltimore, then moved on to Jacksonville where he worked ten years, including four as director of player personnel. He joined the Cardinals in 2013 as an eastern regional scout, and has worked his way up from there.

It is entirely possible McDonough proves to be the best candidate for the job. But if this interview was only set up this week, this raises questions in my mind as to whether or not Jed York and Paraag Marathe are entirely sure of what they are looking for in this process. Tim Kawakami has written about how they don’t have a significant network of NFL executives to run ideas through, and instead they do it through the national media. In the ensuing days, Gil Brandt mentions McDonough, and then Nolan mentions McDonough, and then suddenly the 49ers are reported to be interviewing him. Am I being a little too paranoid, or does all this timing seem a little too close for comfort?

I said early in this search that even a blind squirrel can find a nut. If the 49ers land a quality person in this search and turn things around, it is hard for me to not think that applies to Jed York’s search. Some will find that an unfair comparison, but the way this has gone in a bit of a shotgun approach raises plenty of questions. The results could very well turn out fine, but the process is not instilling me with a lot of confidence.

Here’s a transcript of Nolan’s McDonough comments (audio).

On best GM candidate:

Well, I’m gonna say this, to go along with what you said. In my opinion, the first guy you should always get is the general manager. Now, when I did it, it was just the opposite. But I learned some lessons from it as well. Hire the general manager first for this simple reason. It’s always players first, always. It might even be first through 10. Players first. Because great players will make a coach look like a hero. But it’s not the other way around. A great coach sometimes, if you don’t have the right guys on the field, you can be as good as you want, it’s hard to get a win on Sunday’s.

In my opinion, a couple guys I think are outstanding candidates for GM jobs, the number one guy I hope gets an interview is Terry McDonough in Arizona. Terry’s not even one of the top guys, let me tell you what, Terry McDonough is an excellent candidate. He worked under Ozzie Newsome for a number of years, with Eric DeCosta back there. He knows how to pick players, which is number one first and foremost. And right now he’s down in Arizona, and he’s done an outstanding job for the last four years. And he’s the right-hand man to Steve Keim down there. Terry McDonough in my opinion, he’s number one on the list. I think Mark Dominik on ESPN, he’s done a good job. I think Brian Gained down in Houston, he’s done a great job.

These other guys, like Riddick and Caserio and Wolf, and there’s a couple names in Seattle, I do not personally know those guys. They might be OK. But I have zero doubt that Terry McDonough would be a great choice.

On why McDonough is not being interviewed:

He is by a couple I think, but I’m not certain. But again guys, the names that get on the list sometimes, they come from strange sources, whether it’s the league list they give you. The thing that bothers me about the league’s list is that they have an agenda. And their agenda is to get their guys jobs. And it’s not necessarily who’s the best guys. They have an agenda. And the worst people to ask are people with agendas. You know, if you can find somebody who doesn’t have an agenda, you can get a good name out of them. But that’s not the case. Everybody wants to get their guy — look, I only know Terry McDonough as an acquaintance, that’s it. And I worked with him one time in Baltimore, and I remember how good he was, and I watched his career, just because that’s kinda what we do. I watch different guys and see how they’ve progressed. But he’s an excellent choice, and in my opinion he’s a no-brainer. And Brian Gaine and Mark Dominik are two guys that are also very good.

But I’m telling you, people get on the list in strange ways. It’s no different than the head coaches. It’s always, I’ll just say this, when you look at a candidate, it’s critical to just say, look at his body of work first. Let me see his body of work, and then I’ll tell you. Because a one-year wonder or a hot name, my god, run as fast as you can from those guys. Because all you’re going to do is crash and burn again next year, as we’ve seen in places as you well know.