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John Clayton explains why he thinks George Paton would potentially turn down 49ers

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George Paton and Terry McDonough are the final two candidates for the 49ers GM job. ESPN’s John Clayton had an interesting comment about Paton.

Everybody and their brother has an opinion on the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts general manager searches, and now we can add ESPN’s John Clayton to the mix. He had some thoughts on George Paton, who he says he has known dating back to Paton’s time with the Miami Dolphins from 2001 to 2006.

Paton interviewed with the Colts on Thursday, and will have his second interview with the 49ers on Saturday. If Clayton had his way, Paton would not take the 49ers job. However, Clayton thinks the Colts job would be worthwhile because of a couple factors.

Here is a transcript of Clayton’s comments regarding Paton from Colts.com. I’ve got a few thoughts about it after the transcript.

[H]e’s very picky and choosy about going places, because I think he feels so comfortable with his job in Minnesota, that he’ll turn down, maybe offers, and turn down opportunities unless he thinks it’s perfect. And so what you have to wonder, and of course, in San Francisco, it’s down to two guys, Terry McDonough and George Paton. I would tend to think, knowing George, that he probably wouldn’t take the job.

And the reason I say that, is going to be the configuration of the job in San Francisco. It appears that Kyle Shanahan’s going to get a five-year deal to be the coach and almost the general manager of the 49ers. I think he’s going to get authority over everything because he’s in a position to do this. He’s got maximum leverage, he’s coming off a phenomenal year. It could have been Josh McDaniels doing it, but Josh didn’t want to wait that late. So I think that, if you’re George, you sit there and say, “I’m comfortable being number two in Minnesota and waiting for the right opportunity, but do I really want to be answering to Kyle Shanahan and not having the power?” I think if offered, he may turn it down. But again, that’s me thinking the thoughts of someone that I know, but I can’t answer the questions for him.

Now, I think it’s different deal with Indianapolis, because what you’re now looking at is that rare opportunity to go to a franchise that has a good owner, that’s going to spend what’s necessary to do it, and you get a franchise quarterback. I mean you get Andrew Luck in his prime. And so that’s why, I think that, if he’s going to be the guy that gets offered, that could be the one job that could get George out of Minnesota.

I watched the video, and Clayton made a good point about the franchise quarterback. However, to call Jim Irsay a “good owner” at this point in time strikes me as a little odd. If you want to think he is better than Jed York, I think even that is debatable, but there is room for that discussion. But I just don’t see how Irsay is a good owner given how he has handled his coach and GM situations. But maybe Clayton just has sources to protect otherwise.

I can see why someone would consider turning down the 49ers GM job. By all accounts, Kyle Shanahan is going to have a significant say in the roster. My guess is that means control of the 53-man roster, but we don’t know for certain. But if he does have that kind of control, the general manager is not a normal general manager. He is more similar to something like what Scot McCloughan was in the early days of Mike Nolan. He is dealing with a lot of the day-to-day and nitty-gritty stuff, but he does not have final say.

It is possible Paton or McDonough ends up being fine with that, and things go from there. Or, they have issues with it and the 49ers end up re-opening their GM search process. We’ll find out more this weekend or into next week.