The San Francisco 49ers interviewed ESPN analyst Louis Riddick on Tuesday, and if the interview went well, it is entirely possible something gets worked out sooner rather than later. Riddick has made it clear on ESPN he would be interested in the job if Jed York follows through on his commitments to the rebuild.
Prior to Riddick, the 49ers interviewed five GM candidates before Riddick, and will interview three more starting with Terry McDonough on Friday. But Riddick is a candidate that is on everybody’s radar, in large part because he is on ESPN.
Former Philadelphia Eagles scout and Bay Area radio host John Middlekauff has a podcast with Guy Haberman. Middlekauff and Riddick worked for the Philadelphia Eagles at the same time, and so it was fitting that Middlekauff would offer up his thoughts on Riddick. He offers up some questions, but primarily focuses on why he is a good option to be a GM. He states near the end that Riddick could very well be a big miss, but he thinks Riddick’s experience and personality are good fits for the job.
The thing that stands out most when you meet the guy, and are around him every day, is he’s really, really, really bright. Really, really smart guy. And the really, really smart people that I have been around are just creatures that don’t need that much sleep because their brains are always moving. I’m telling you, Guy, I still talk to him at like 9 o’clock our time (PT), midnight his time, and eh’ll be watching tape, he’ll be doing something. I mean he eats, breathes, and sleeps it. He’s exactly why I knew right away when I worked in the league, “I don’t think I’m ever gonna be GM. I don’t like football enough.” Like football, he grew up in a family where his cousins when he was growing up in the late 70s, early 80s, were in the NFL. I mean he’s an NFL lifer. He played for the Raiders. I think that was Gruden’s first year.
So, this guy is just a, he’s a unique blend because he’s a former player, but when he played at Pitt, he was an academic All-American. So he was really really smart. I think he’d tell you, he probably underachieved in college. Like if you meet him, he’s a 6’3 safety. I mean, he’s how they used to look. They looked like f—ing linebackers. He’s like Bill Romanowski size, only he played strong safety.
And then he got in the scouting world, he came up with [Washington], he was basically the second in command there. He came to the Eagles, was basically second in command when I was in Philly. And things, I think it’s hard, it’s easier the position I was in, that when you get second and third command, there’s a lot of egos in a lot of these NFL rooms. And the way the thing with Philly shook out was not all his fault. I mean he was clearly our most talented/dynamic guy. Like I was around Ryan Grigson. He never worked in the office, but he’d come in the office periodically. And you saw his reports. The difference between Louis Riddick and Ryan Grigson, if I was an owner and had to choose between the two of them is like the difference between Steph and like a D-league point guard. They weren’t even in the same f—ing realm. I mean they were in different universes.
But, Ryan Grigson became a GM. I saw first-hand, everyone I was around said, “Ryan Grigson became a GM for the Colts?” Like it was jaw-dropping. It was jaw dropping when he get the interview, Guy, let alone he got the job. I mean, like, my god, he’s gonna get Andrew Luck, he’s gonna have a job for life. And clearly his resume speaks for itself. If he wasn’t BFF’s with the owner, how does he keep a job?
And I’ve been around, Phil Savage was one of the highest regarded guys before he went to Cleveland, and it screwed his career like it does everyone else. But, he was Ozzie Newsome’s right-hand guy forever. Howie Roseman is one of the more bright, dynamic young guys, and Louis is, Louis has it all. I mean, Louis is a general manager. And I went on with Lund last week on KNBR. And right before me, typically when you’re doing a terrestrial radio interview, sometimes they call you — and I always hate this as an interview, a guy that’s getting interviewed, when they call you way early and you’re sitting there on hold — but I got to listen and Brent Jones was on with him. And Brent Jones ended with, he asked, “what do you think of Riddick?” And he was like, “You know, I played with Riddick.” They were in a training camp, because I think Louis was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers. And Brent goes, “the one thing I struggle with is, why hasn’t he been in the league? He’s making 150k for ESPN.” And I think, Brent, this isn’t ’97, he’s making a lot more than [that] — a lot of people stay in these jobs because they work three days a week, I do the draft and stuff, I probably make more than half a million bucks, at ESPN, and I get to see my kids all the time.
On questions about Riddick not being in NFL now, and if TV translates to being good at job:
And that’s one thing I would be worried. Let’s say you get a cushy media job, and let’s say, on the high end, he’s making 700-800k, maybe more. Let’s say $1 million, works three days a week, does Sportscasters, every week does Mike & Mike on Mondays, does with Scott Van Pelt, does the draft now, does the Senior Bowl, starts playing a huge role in all their NFL stuff. No one’s willing, if you’re the pro personnel guy and they’re gonna pay you $250,000, and then you’re gonna work seven days a week, like I would be concerned with media guys, like how much do you really love football? Because some guys just get the itch. Clearly Tom Coughlin was so f—ing bored last year, would have probably paid to be on the field last year. Would have paid teams, give me a friggin role, I want back in. That’s who Tom Coughlin is. He never would have done the media, that’s not him.
The one thing I will say about Louis, the thing that I’d be least worried about would be the work ethic, and how hard he is going to grind and transition back. Because I think his approach is this — he just has strong opinions, on TV he stands out. Mark Dominik for example, I listen to Mark Dominik, he’s been really cool on our show, but he never really says anything. Like Louis just will say things. But I know for a fact, Louis is grinding on football, on football, all day every day. Reading it, and taking that.
On what a Louis Riddick team would be:
I think he’ll have a lot of adaptations with the coach. And in terms of why I think him and Josh are such a fit, I think he likes bigger players. I think he has a more traditional view. Him and Trent Baalke have worked together. I think they would share similar views. Where I think Louis would be stronger is I think Louis would have a better feel, or a different feel, because, Trent’s drafted a lot of good players over the years. He sucked the last couple years, but he drafted some impact All-Pros. So clearly he knew a little of what he was doing. I almost feel like Trent lost touch with what made guys tick. And I think Louis is really good with that. The one thing I saw is, every night we’d have dinner at the facility. And we would lunch, too. Guys we’d eat a lot with were guys like Shady McCoy and Brent Celek. They would always be around, and they were personalities, they would sit with whoever, and you’d eat a lot with them. I think his ability to talk with players, like at the Combine, sit down with them and really kind of, not from a straight-on business standpoint, “we might draft you, I need to ask the questions,” but also kinda a feel standpoint.
Like one thing Andy’s good at is Andy can kinda get a guy to relax a little bit. And you almost get better answers, more true answers when you can make the guy feel a little more at home. You just get a better feel for him. Than a guy, you just don’t have a good feel for the guy you’re interviewing, he gets stiff, and then you don’t gain much out of it. Because one thing that’s clear about the NFL is that your talent really matters, but there are a lot of other aspects that determine whether you’re gonna be good or bad. From a work ethic standpoint, from an intangible standpoint, from a locker room standpoint. And that’s clearly what the Niners need, some influx of talent, the right type guys; they need to get back to getting the guys they used to get, the Frank Gores, the Joe Staleys. All those guys weren’t top ten picks, right? They were second, third, fourth.
Give Reggie McKenzie a lot of credit, he’s gotten a lot of just impressive guys. And I think Reggie has that, in fairness, Reggie’s personality is a little quieter than Louis’, and you and I have talked about this on podcasts before, definitely off broadcast. Like, if you watch Reggie at a college game, or interact in a practice, like he’s very, very comfortable around players, former players, like you watch Reggie interact with Lo, he’s kind of in his element. Like I feel Reggie’s kinda strong if you put him at an all star game and he’s just sitting down with a third round pick. The kid’s just gonna feel comfortable around big Reg. And Howie, for example, and maybe he’s better at it now, that’s not gonna be his strength. Like, Reggie’s sitting down with DeShaun Watson. They’re gonna have a pretty real conversation, don’t you think? Reggie and DeShaun? Once you say, this is the GM of the Raiders, he played in the league for a while. And his kid plays at Tennessee, you played him last year.
That matters. And it’s hard to find a great blend of that. Not many people, it’s just, that’s what separates people. And we’ll never know, Louis could f—ing royally miss. I also think the other thing that would give them a big advantage, that if Josh and Louis come in, Louis and Josh have been talking for a while now. Like I’m thinking, a couple years. They would be on the same page with what they’re looking for as a player. And clearly, Trent and Jimmy T and then clearly Chip, that was, what would you say, half the battle? Josh Garnett with Chip Kelly. What are we doing here?