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Paraag Marathe discusses 49ers GM/HC hiring process

The 49ers longest-tenured football operations employee chatted with Matt Maiocco recently. Here are some of his thoughts on how the 49ers hiring process went.

The San Francisco 49ers executive vice president of football operations, Paraag Marathe, has been a lightning rod of criticism in part because he is not heard from publicly all that frequently on football matters. We hear rumors and reports about his involvement in certain aspects of the organization, but we rarely hear from the man himself.

Earlier this week, Marathe sat down with Matt Maiocco for a wide-ranging podcast. They spoke for just over 40 minutes, and covered just about every topic imaginable. He spent the first eight minutes discussing his life up to joining the 49ers. He followed that up with comments on his game management information and his work in the booth under head coach Mike Nolan. They then got further into analytics and the resource he provides. They got into the more controversial areas, including his perception based on Pro Football Talk’s previous report that he was viewed by some an impediment for finding quality interview candidates. The interview wrapped up with him going into detail about his recent New York Times feature about how he lost his sister to anorexia.

The 49ers made a couple high profile decisions over the past month, hiring John Lynch to serve as general manager and Kyle Shanahan as head coach. There have been questions about Marathe and Jed’s involvement in football decision-making, and that was viewed as the biggest football decision to make.

Marathe did not really address the notion that hiring the coach and GM are the biggest “football decision,” but he did offer some insight into how the interview process went. He talked about the broader topics they discussed, focusing on leadership, what made the men tick, and how they viewed things like collaboration. Marathe is effusive in his praise of how things have changed through the first couple weeks of having both men under contract. He talked how “inspiring” it has been around the office since hiring the two men.

We’ll have more from the podcast, but for now, here is that segment. I recommend giving the entire podcast a listen here.

On he and Jed’s involvement in compiling the list of candidates and that being the biggest football decision:

Certainly Jed led this process. And he had talked a lot about looking for the coach and GM and how important that is, and finding the right pairing. And we were looking for two leaders that believed in a strong culture, believed in a unified vision, and collective responsibility. And so, it wasn’t just the interviews, there was a lot of background research and work, and talking to a lot of folks in the industry. One thing, having been here for such a long time, having been in the NFL for such a long time, I’ve got a lot of relationships throughout the league to lean on, and to ask about candidates and people. And so, it was really just trying to find that right mix for what Jed was looking for.

On how they interview GM/HC candidates, line of questioning, what they’re looking for:

It was like Jed talked about. It was trying to find out what kind of leaders they are, what makes them tick, who are their mentors, who do they lean on for advice, how do they lead, do they believe in a unified vision and partnering with a general manager or head coach, and how do they not just the what but the how they’re going to go about getting there. And a lot of it was about leadership and culture, and I think nothing speaks better to the process than the quality of the two men that we hired. I can’t tell you just in the last two weeks even how inspiring it’s been to be at work just seeing these two guys working together, and how they’ve transformed the building.

On Xs and Os discussions in the interview process:

Look, we’re not asking them if they have two-a-days in training camp, or they do padded practices on the third day, or the second week, or the first week of training camp. It’s a lot about what makes them tick, and what kind of leaders they are, and what their vision is.

On what separated John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan:

What separated them, I think that they’re just two really, really strong-minded people with clear visions for what they want it to look like. Looking for a strong partner, which they found and have in each other. And believe in culture and believe in the path to get there. And I feel like, and obviously the football acumen speaks for itself, each speaks for themselves in the football acumen, which was there. And I just feel like they are two types of guys that have tremendous will. They’re the kinds of guys that are going to succeed or die trying.