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Why Packers could reject Eliot Wolf Lions interview last year, but can’t reject 49ers interview

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The San Francisco 49ers are set to interview Packers executive Eliot Wolf. Green Bay rejected an opportunity last year, but this year is different.

The San Francisco 49ers are set to interview Green Bay Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf and director of college scouting Brian Gutekunst on Thursday in Wisconsin. The two interviews look to be the first two the 49ers will conduct in their search for a new general manager.

The Wolf interview is particularly interesting because a year ago, the Packers did not let him interview for the Detroit Lions general manager job. What exactly changed so that Wolf is now able to interview for a GM job?

In speaking with Packers writers, it is my understanding that the Lions job technically did not have final say on the roster decisions. Instead, someone else would have had that job, even though Wolf would have held the GM title. A similar situation exists in Miami where Chris Grier is the GM, but Mike Tannebaum has final say as executive VP of football operations.

NFL interview rules require that anybody in a high level position (GM, president) must be granted the right to interview for a position with high level responsibilities. As I understand it, since Wolf would not have had the final roster say, it technically gave the Packers a loop-hole to not let him interview. Additionally, for the third straight year he was given a title promotion and raise.

The 49ers GM job has plenty of question marks amidst the 49ers ugly three-year run. ESPN’s Louis Riddick suggested it could be the most appealing, but he also cautioned that it would only be so if Jed York followed up entirely on what he said on Monday.

If you are Eliot Wolf and you are really looking to move into this kind of position, even if there are questions about the 49ers job, it is currently the only one available. And even if there were more available, there are only 32 of these jobs. Even the worst one is still a good opportunity. And again, the 49ers hold the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and whole ton of cap room. Barring restrictions from ownership, there is still some decent potential with this job.