The San Francisco 49ers are midway through their search for a general manager and head coach, and now seems a good time to figure out who we all actually want. Wednesday evening I posted a pair of polls asking everybody who they wanted for general manager and head coach. You can continue voting in those polls, but I thought I would post the results as they currently stand. Here are the results with 3,848 votes for GM and 4,268 votes for head coach.
And let us follow that up with what many of our front page writers and moderators decided on. It sounds more and more like Sean McVay could end up coaching the Los Angeles Rams, so I thought I would get this posted before then.
My vote was for Josh McDaniels as head coach and Eliot Wolf as general manager. McDaniels had a rough road in Denver, but I think if he learned from his failure, that could be huge for him. If he has not learned, this will not work, but failure can be a big help in taking a step forward further down the road. There is concern he has not really succeeded away from Tom Brady, but I think we can raise questions about issues Kyle Shanahan and others have. I was tempted by Sean McVay, but could not quite pull the trigger on a guy who still has a decent amount of inexperience. I can see the argument for going with him, but I couldn’t pull the trigger.
At GM, Louis Riddick is the guy connected to McDaniels, but I’ll happily take an executive from the Ron Wolf tree (figuratively AND literally). Future GMs who have worked with Wolf have regularly gone on to great things. That is not reason enough, but without a lot of information regarding most of these candidates, I’ll take my chances.
Like the readers, Eliot Wolf was the most popular GM pick with the writers and moderators. However, Sean McVay got the slight edge over Josh McDaniels and Kyle Shanahan.
GM: Eliot Wolf is my choice. He comes from an incredible pedigree and he is on the rise. He seems ready to take over and find a place he'll spend the next decade. I strongly want that place to be the 49ers. I doubt he'll get the job and no, I don't expect him to have the kind of GM tree that his father had by the time his career is over, but Wolf definitely excites me for all the same reasons that McVay probably should, but doesn't.
HC: Kyle Shanahan is my pick for a number of reasons. Josh McDaniels may be a quality candidate and he may be ready for another crack at being a head coach, but McDaniels' awful time in Denver behind the scenes sounds a lot too much like Jed York's awful time behind the scenes right now. I just get way too much Jed from McDaniels' initial term as head coach and that may be unfair, but I'm unable to divorce myself from that notion. Shanahan is a quality candidate with proven effectiveness as an offensive coordinator. I don't know much about him personally, but if a new head coach is the name of the game, then Shanahan seems to be the top pick. I don't know enough about Anthony Lynn, I don't think Tom Cable is a head coach, I really dislike the fact that the Miami Dolphins cannot tackle under Vance Joseph and Washington simply has a stink about them and I'm biased.
I like the Eliot Wolf, Sean McVay combo. My second choice for HC would be Shanahan. I am also leery of McDaniels as a result of his history with Denver. McVay is young and has a family history with the 49ers. Most important seems to be the ability for the two to work together. Who would be able to build a more unified front, lacking egotistical battles and drama? That's what I'm most concerned about.
York wants longevity and he wants a clean slate. Not sure if he's sincere about it, but I'll play along. Eliot Wolf is my choice for GM. The guy has been groomed for this job, has been in and out of any situation you can think of both in the draft room and out. Being a second generation exec doesn't hurt. Pair him with Kyle Shanahan and you have a winning formula AND a West Coast offense. Have Josh McDaniels and you could have a recipe for success, but the stubborn fan in me wants a return to legacy with West Coast concepts. Sean McVay is another secondary choice who I'd be fine with, but it'd be based on his attitude and if he can adapt/evolve with his teams. Too many young coaches get caught in stubborness and there's no recourse. Give me Wolf and Shanny and I'll happily give you 3 years of my fandom.
GM: Elliot Wolf. The Packers organization has a long track record of producing great GM candidates, and despite his youth Wolf has a much deeper resume than the other Packers candidate, Brian Gutekunst. Ron Wolf took over the Packers GM position in 1991, and since 1992 the organization has enjoyed 19 winning seasons in last 25 years. With a scouting department that produced Chiefs GM John Dorsey, Seahawks GM John Schneider, and Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie (not to mention former 49ers GM Scott McCloughan), the Packers front office has not only proven highly successful, it's proven to be highly replicable.
HC: This is a much tougher call as, much like in 2016, there doesn't seem to be a slam dunk candidate anywhere in the field of options. Sean McDermott would have been my top choice, but the Bills landed him. I like that Kyle Shanahan has been an offensive coordinator under a defensive head coach in Dan Quinn, meaning he likely had more responsibility and autonomy on his side of the ball. Without a clear-cut favorite, and with the Denver Broncos now out of the picture, Shanahan seems as good as any other option on the board.
GM Eliot Wolf: I must disclose the Eliot Wolf choice has a shade of bias from my part due to the amount of respect I have for Eliot's father, Ron Wolf. The senior was a tremendous GM and I have always been a fan of his drafting a quarterback each year philosophy. The popular idiom "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree", definitely has instilled some hope the common phrase shares a lot of truth in reality. Nevertheless, I am well aware of Eliot's football prowess and the respect he has earned in the scouting community. Moreover, as one that always views football from a "scouts" perspective, I am an entrenched bandwagon passenger behind the philosophy of building the team through the draft. A philosophy Eliot Wolf has fully embraced and the Green Bay Packers have shown success from. Lastly, throughout the years a lot of the draft prospects I have become enamored with during the draft process end up getting drafted by the Packers, so from a personal standpoint, it's a marriage of philosophies.
Head coach Sean McVay: I'm torn between McVay and the favored candidate, Josh McDaniels. Although it would be naive of me thinking all coaches stepping outside of the shade of Bill Belichick's coaching tree bursts into flames like a Minecraft Zombie, it's still difficult to swallow that pill. Obviously, second chance NFL head coaches have found success (Belichick and Pete Carroll come to mind), but it's reminders such as when McDaniels, then Denver Broncos' HC, was caught and fined from the league for recording the 49ers' walk-through, among other issues our friends from the Mile High Report have conveniently reminded us here. Plus, did you know McDaniels has his own website, from proud and ecstatic Broncos' fans no doubt, outlying the wonderful time the fans enjoyed McDaniels' tenure as their HC.
But I digress, I'm here to throw my hat in for Sean McVay. The easy assumption is embracing the same idiom I mentioned about Eliot Wolf, you know the relative closeness of departed apples and trees and such. However, McVay is a darn good offensive mind, and with the bloodlines of the NFL coursing through his veins, along with being mentored by Jon Gruden - I'm sure McVay has a set of PJ's with "Spider 2 Y Banana" monogrammed all over them - and if Gruden had a ‘Gruden Grinder’ coach candidate to honor, I'm sure McVay would be the guy. McVay's youthful age of 30 raises some eyebrows, but like the love from the book Harold and Maude, where love has no bound even if the age difference is 60 years *spoiler alert, the same love of football is equated to McVay with his impressive knowledge of the game and deep immersion and tutelage from respected football minds at such a young age. Moreover, the 49ers nostalgia of the McVay name is also a warm hearted welcome home feeling. So, I'm all for the youth (Wolf and McVay) running the 49ers asylum of a young roster all governed by the relatively youthfulness of Jed York and Paraag Marathe (fighting back my lunch from coming up thinking of the latter two). The youth explosion could hit it out of the ball park, or could end up being a disastrous, yet drama laced remake, of the 49ers version of the Lord of the Flies.
GM: Eliot Wolf - Not only has Wolf grown up in football and learned from one of the best, but he has helped build a strong Green Bay Packers team. The Packers draft well and then develop those players well. The philosophy in Green Bay has been working for long time, and I'd love to see that philosophy make its way to Levi's Stadium.
HC: I've favored Josh McDaniels but I'm starting to lean more towards Sean McVay. I like his ties to the 49ers and more importantly, I like what he's done with Washington's offense and Kirk Cousins. I also like how current and former players talk about how well he knows the game and how he commands respect because of it. So...I'd say McVay or McDaniels. Basically I want a Mc.
GM: Louis Riddick - A general manager needs to be able to build a scouting and football organization, not just be a fantastic scout themselves. Riddick comes across as someone who can build relationships, evidenced by his media counterparts that speak highly of him. This also extends to those like Dan Hatman, someone who is plugged in to the NFL personnel world. His fast rise in Washington and Philly further proves the point. Riddick has the varied experience to handle different situations, and we know Jed needs advisement. He knows what great coaching looks like from a player’s perspective (played for Belichick and Saban) and a scout’s perspective (Andy Reid, Joe Gibbs). He’s worked in the front office with the likes of John Schneider, and knows what a great program looks like. The 49ers need someone with the varied experience to handle an owner that can’t get out of his way, and rebuild some of the frayed relationships in Santa Clara. I don’t think youth or resumes with singular experiences fit that bill quite as well.
HC: Josh McDaniels - He has three things gong for him. The ability to scheme an offense to his roster’s talents, the right mix of experience and youth, and previous head coaching experience. Case in point: Tim Tebow. This guy won a playoff game (!!!) with Tebow at the helm. Tom Brady isn’t his only success. Matt Cassell and Kyle Orton both looked competent under McDaniels. He’s now in his 40s. Head coaches hired in their 40s have a Pythagorean win percentage of .520, the highest compared to any other age bracket. The knock on McDaniels is the poor legacy he left in Denver. But learning from past mistakes is a big marker for success. People said coaches like Carroll and Belichick were a-holes that couldn’t succeed in the NFL after failing. But learning from past mistakes, and having the experience to do so, is worth a lot in the NFL.
GM: Louis Riddick - Somewhat surprisingly considering Jed York is involved with al this, I think you can make a solid case for a number of quality candidates. I’m tossing my name in the Riddick hat. One of the things Riddick brings to the table not many of the other candidates do is varied experience. He spent eight seasons in the league as a player, and had extended front office stints with both Washington and Philadelphia. His vision was heavily shaped by the incredible coaching staff assembled under Belichick in Cleveland. Other top candidates, such as Eliot Wolf, Brian Gutenust, and George Paton, have spent a decade or more within the same organization. While there’s certainly appeal to plucking a candidate who’s been a long-time member of a successful organization, I think there’s value to not only have seen what “good” looks like, but to also see what “bad” looks like so you can hope to avoid some of the same pitfalls bad organizations often find themselves in, and Riddick has seen both throughout his time in the league. Riddick should also be able to excel in one area Trent Baalke failed miserably — the ability to communicate a clear vision and get buy-in from everyone in the organization. But it’s important to keep in mind that if we know little about finding quality head coaches, we know even less about finding quality general managers. We have very little information to go on from the outside, but based on what we do know, I like Riddick (and his reported pairing with McDaniels) just a little more than some of the other guys.
HC: Josh McDaniels - There’s an entire website dedicated to how bad Josh McDaniels was as a head coach in Denver. I’m not here to convince you otherwise. But here’s the thing — we (both inside the league and out of it) are mostly terrible at figuring out who’s going to be a good head coach and who’s not. When I researched head coaching tenures a couple years ago, I found that nearly two-thirds of coaches failed to produce a winning record over their tenure. First impressions are hard to shake, I get it. But the line of thinking that immediately dismisses McDaniels based on what he did in Denver would have also dismissed the Patriots hiring Bill Belichick, the Seahawks hiring Pete Carroll, the Broncos hiring Mike Shanahan, and on and on. That doesn’t mean McDaniels is destined to find similar success, of course, but the list of coaches who failed or had poor reputations in previous stops and went on to find success later is growing almost every year. There’s something to be said for a bright, talented person — which by all accounts McDaniels is — failing, reflecting on those mistakes, and taking steps to make positive improvements. We won’t know for sure if McDaniels has done this until he gets the opportunity, but considering all of the positives he brings from a football perspective, he’s the clear-cut top option for me.
GM: Louis Riddick
HC: Josh McDaniels
This may surprise people but I like them because they have failed before in the same or similar positions. I think you need that experience to navigate this odd, complicated world. Also, I don't think Kyle Shanahan is a realistic prospect -- he'll have better choices. Eliot Wolf and Sean McVay are too young and green, though odds both good will be very good some day.
This Niners job is not an entry level position. It's a cue ball behind the 8 ball, and I think the teams needs guys with a few scars to avoid scratching.
Joe the Wizard
I am going with HC Sean McVay and GM Eliot Wolf. Picking a HC and GM is always a crapshoot but I think those two have the best chance of pulling a quarterback out of their hat.
GM: You mean other than myself? I'm leaning toward Eliot Wolf. There is a reason why the Packers want to keep him, and the Packers are well known for building through the draft. Hopefully Wolf learned a lot from Ted Thompson. (Like ignore Marathe) Though we will have to take a long-term approach to becoming relevant again, this would be the essential piece.
HC: Just PLEASE don't get McDaniels! But since the question is who do I want...
Two choices. I'm leaning towards offensive minds. In my Fantasy GM I hired Kyle Shanahan, and I still like him. Great football mind, players seem to like him, brings out some of the best in his players. But the more I read about Sean McVay, the more I like him. Washington has a great offense and thus shows his technical knowledge. But what is swaying me is pieces being said about him like this.
(This is a quote from Fooch's article "Talking Sean McVay with Hogs Haven as 49ers prepare for Monday interview"): "His players both respect and like him. They believe in him. They feel this way despite McVay's penchant for pushing them to the point of aggravation and beyond when it comes to nailing every detail of every assignment."
Coaching is two major elements. Technical knowledge and player relations (this includes leadership and teaching). He has both of them in spades.
GM Eliot Wolf: The Packers are a franchise with stability and having one of their upcoming execs will hopefully stabilize the 49ers. He has a known NFL pedigree and is young which is needed to rebuild the 49ers since it's going to be a long process.
HC Kyle Shanahan: Need a coach that can help develop whoever the 49ers choose as their QB. He has a proven track record doing that and running an offense
However, I would like Eliot Wolf and Sean McVay to be the next General Manager and Head Coach of the 49ers. I believe that both these young intelligent minds can be a long term tandem that will pull the 49ers out of their tailspin. While both are young, they have years of experience working for minds such as Ted Thompson and Jon Gruden, as well as having been born into football culture with John McVay and Ron Wolf being grandfather and father to Sean and Eliot, respectively. Hiring Green Bay executives have proven to be a wise choice for our friends across the Bay, and both candidates seem to be well respected by their peers. While I do fret about their age, I think that they will be able to grow on the job and learn on the way.
GM: Eliot Wolf - Let’s face it, everything Baalke (poor judge of talent, stubborn, cheap, unwilling to take chances) was we need our next GM needs not to be. I present you with Eliot Wolf. We need someone that has an eye for talent/is a great evaluator of said talent, has a football mind, young and
HC: Kyle Shanahan - Aside from the fact that he’s walked into similar situations in the past (little talent on roster with limited impact players, no QB, and needing tons of help on D) with teams like the Texans, Browns, and Redskins, he’s used to making something out of nothing. Not to mention his offenses have always done well and finished middle of the pack or better. Need I say he’s had Atlanta with one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL over the past few years. That was just as an OC. This guy needs his shot with his owe team and I think he also wants it to show he’s more than just a mind that can orchestrate offenses. with plenty of cap space, full control, and the opportunity to build a team in both his and the GM’s image. Oh, and yeah his last name is Shanahan, so he comes from greatness. Both he and Wolf are young, innovative, football savvy, and know what it takes win. These two would be masterful at rebuilding this roster and I trust they’d pick the right coaches where needed. I think this combination would be one of the best two man teams since Kobe and Shaq, Mike and Scotty, Joe and Jerry even. It would take some good money and pride to be swallowed, but at this point I think York may be willing to do whatever it takes to get back to winning and keep us fans off his backside.
Honorable mention: Riddick (GM), McDaniels (HC)
As far as GM goes, I'm at a complete and total loss. My gut feeling for GM says "find the guy who has been in a decision-impacting position for more than 1 well-drafting team". Unfortunately, this disqualifies effectively everyone ever. Narrowing it down significantly, my filter would be: NOT the "long time heir apparent to an established GM that has held the chair for several seasons, trying to branch out because upward mobility is stunted". This disqualifies Caserio immediately, even IF he had accepted the interview.
Packers executives remain a major question mark, as they're brought up in a system that values drafted, homegrown talent & largely eschews free agency. Considering the 80 million cap space the Niners will shortly hold, I have reservations about the willingness of a potential ex-Packer exec to make meaningful splashes in the free agency market.
Furthermore, Seahawks execs raise a red flag as been having brought up through a system that is overly willing to gamble on free agent talent, while relying heavily on late round/UDFA players. This brings me to question the relative balance of success of the coaching staff versus the front office.
In conclusion, I have no idea who I would prefer as the GM of the 49ers for 2017 and on.
As far as HC goes, my knee-jerk reaction was, and to some extent remains, offensive minded coach. Ultimately, my pick for safest hire would have been Anthony Lynn, considering his long-standing experience with the run game, which would mesh well with our current state of offensive production. The home-run candidate would be Kyle Shanahan, although a several-year guarantee would be absolutely necessary, even if he were to receive a hand-picked QBotF.
McDaniels remains a consummate gamble in my mind, a lottery selection unfit as the 4th HC in as many years.
To conclude, I'm short on ideas & simultaneously thankful I wasn't born into the presidency of an NFL team.