The San Francisco 49ers tweeted on Wednesday that the team had interviewed Buffalo Bills interim head coach Anthony Lynn. He was the first candidate on the 49ers’ interview schedule for either the general manager job or the head coach job. He will be followed by two Green Bay Packers executives on Thursday, and then a Vikings executive and Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan on Friday.
One recurring question has been why the team is interviewing any head coaches before they get to the general managers. The team scheduled out 11 interviews initially, with almost a rotation between coach and GM candidates. They have five coaching candidates and six general manager candidates.
Former Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns executive Joe Banner made a good point as to why teams try and hustle through the coaching hire. He spoke to the issues surrounding hiring coordinators.
First HC hires will have huge advantage in hiring top Coordinators. Limited pool, it will matter.— Joe Banner (@JoeBanner13) January 4, 2017
Teams cannot turn down an interview request for a coordinator or position coach to interview for a head coach position. However, they can turn down requests for a position coach or coordinator to interview for a coordinator role. That removes a lot of quality names, and leaves team scrambling for what they can find among free agent coaches, and of course the college ranks.
The 49ers are in a bit of a tough position because of their decision to fire both the GM and head coach. They are the only team looking for a general manager, while also joining the other teams looking for a coach. I am curious how exactly the team is structuring questions to cover the fact that Jed York will be hiring both candidates, rather than the GM hiring the coach.
This is where it gets tricky with who is actually involved in the process. How many football minds that actually have extensive knowledge about coaching philosophy and the like are consulting with Jed and Paraag? I actually don’t think it’s the end of the world to be interviewing head coaches without having a GM in place, but that is predicated on the idea that you can develop a coherent philosophy that will work between the two.
If the 49ers end up with Nick Caserio or Louis Riddick and Josh McDaniels as their head coach, this is not a huge deal. Caserio works with McDaniels, and Riddick and McDaniels are friends. But other than those groups, I am not sure how exactly they will figure out this puzzle. They’ve got this 100-piece puzzle, and it feels like they have randomly split the pieces in half, and you’ve got 50 pieces on one side, not all of which might go together, and then 50 pieces on the other side that might not all go together. It’s not the best analogy, but hopefully you get where I’m going.
It is entirely possible this process works out fine, and the 49ers find two guys that work well together. But in some ways, the process feels a little like guess work. I’m not in the room so I don’t know the exact nuances of it all. But from the outside, it just strikes me as a little awkward.