The San Francisco 49ers general manager search is down to two people, with Minnesota Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Arizona Cardinals VP of player personnel Terry McDonough. There is some thought that Paton is the favorite, but considering there are only two known candidates left, the 49ers are in a similar position to their head coach search, on a tight rope without a net.
It is possible the team wraps things up with Kyle Shanahan and either of these two candidates, and the 49ers are ready to go by the end of next week or at least after the Super Bowl. However, if they bring Shanahan and the two candidates together and it does not work out, the 49ers might need to figure out an alternate arrangement.
Pro Football Talk offered up a potential alternate arrangement in Atlanta Falcons director of football operations Nick Polk.
As 49ers' G.M. search shifts and morphs, keep an eye on Falcons director of football operations Nick Polk.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 20, 2017
A Falcons executive is an obvious mention given Shanahan’s two years with the club. But would there be anything behind this other than the obvious connection? Here’s what the Falcons website has to say about Polk’s work with the team:
Nick Polk enters his seventh season as director of football operations in 2015. He spent five seasons as the club’s director of football administration and enters his 12th year overall with the team. He works closely with General Manager Thomas Dimitroff on all contract proposals, negotiations, and salary cap management. Polk also helps coordinate the Falcons compliance with the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and labor related issues. Aside from his football operations duties with the Falcons, Polk was responsible for all aspects of the football operations of the Georgia Force, namely; scouting, player selection and development, coach, and player contracts. The Force won the Southern Division title, the National Conference Championship and advanced to Arena Bowl XIX in 2005. Prior to arriving in Atlanta, Polk served as the director of football operations for NFL Europe for three years where he directed all of the NFL Europe League Football Operations.
Polk does not have much scouting experience with the Falcons. He would not be the first GM to come from a non-scouting background, but it would certainly make his staff that much more important. It is important to have good scouts and good managers of those scouts, but you could argue it becomes even more so with a non-scout moving into the GM role.
Again, this appears to just be a connection PFT is making based on the Falcons background. We’ll have to wait and see what the coming week brings and whether or not more names will be necessary.