The Pittsburgh Steelers rode running back Le’Veon Bell all night long on Sunday, and he carried them to victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Steelers held off the Chiefs last minute attempt at a two-point conversion and won by a final score of 18-16. The Steelers will advance to face the New England Patriots in the 2017 AFC title game.
This result could bring a potential curve ball for the San Francisco 49ers GM search. The 49ers had asked the Chiefs for permission to interview Chris Ballard for the job. Initial reports suggested Ballard turned down the interview, but we later learned the Chiefs had actually blocked the interview. There have been rumblings the Green Bay Packers might pursue Chiefs GM John Dorsey as a replacement for Ted Thompson, and that might have gotten the Chiefs a little skittish about their in-house talent.
However, now that Kansas City is out of the playoffs, they cannot block Ballard from interviewing for the 49ers GM job. He can still turn down an interview, so if the Chiefs give him a pay raise, title change, or something else, maybe he chooses to stick around. But if he is interested in interviewing with the 49ers, it could happen. And considering Pro Football Talk’s sources said he was the runaway first choice for the 49ers, it will be something to track.
The 49ers technically could also interview Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub. He got a couple interviews during the Chiefs bye week, including Denver and San Diego. The 49ers did not interview him, but if they think a Ballard/Toub connection might now make sense, it is certainly something that could develop in the coming days.