The San Francisco 49ers announced on Friday that they have hired Ran Carthon to serve as Director of Pro Personnel. Anything under GM or VP of Player Personnel is often met with some head scratching. We don’t hear a lot about some of these guys, and we’re left scrambling for information outside of the basic press release details.
It turns out Carthon is well connected in the scouting media world. When the 49ers announced the hiring, several media people had positive things to say:
Carthon seems to have some solid connections among the former scouting community. On May 4, he made an appearance on Daniel Jeremiah’s “Moving The Sticks” podcast, which is co-hosted by Bucky Brooks. You can listen to the whole thing here (scroll down).
The podcast is 22 minutes, and much of the first half is particular valuable in learning more about the work of scouts and the pro personnel director. The 49ers detailed some of his duties here, but it is interesting hearing more about this from the horse’s mouth. He will work extensively with John Lynch, but expect plenty of work with Kyle Shanahan as well. Carthon is going to manage the team’s free agency work, but also deals with advanced scouting reports during the season as the 49ers prepare for each game.
I cut out some of it as there was a ton of banter about scouting. It’s worth listening to that as well, but I removed it from the transcript. There is also a hilariously awkward moment near the end when Jeremiah and Brooks are doing an advertising promo for underwear. It’s honestly worth listening to just for that.
On his role as director of pro personnel with the Rams:
Let me see, let me give you the shortened version. So, in charge of the day-to-day maintenance of the roster. That basically means if a guy gets cut, we have to watch that guy, know who he is, and see what his fit is for our club. We did free agency, the unrestricted free agents, as well as the week-to-week scouting reports for our upcoming opponents for our coaching staff.
On advanced scouting reports:
It’s a lot, and it really varies from coaching staff to coaching staff. Some coaching staffs want very minimal, some coaching staffs want all the information you can give ‘em. But in a sense, we break down the 53 players on the roster, we’ll do a full evaluation. Strengths and weaknesses of each phase: offense, defense, special teams. Players to watch, which are the key players, the players you gotta game-plan around. Players to attack, you know players we’re gonna go after. And then we even break it down and go a step further. Myself and Ray Agnew, who’s still with the Los Angeles Rams, we would watch TV copies of games. See if we could pick up on any little signals, the hand signals, words, and whatever else would help the coaching staff. And we’ll get that information to them and allow the quality control coaches to break it down.
On instances where they’ve gotten terminology from scouting and nothing is changed on game day:
Oh yea. And it’s amazing, but I’ve also had it on the flip side where you felt like you got a bead on it, you’re confident, you print out this whole spreadsheet, “Hey coach, I got it, this is how they defend it,” and then they flip it. You’re looking like, on Monday, like, “My bad.”
Differences between college and pro scouting:
Well, there is a little bit of a divide … We all know that the pro guys do the most work in the organization [laughter over college/pro rivalry in front offices]. And anyway, I always say, all information is pro information. Everything that you guys compile from the road eventually comes to us and when we have to bring a guy in, we go back and check D.J. and Bucky’s character reports, their evals, because it’s now pro information.
Joking about college scouts looking down on pro scouts:
You know what’s funny, is the young guys I’ve been able to groom, I always tell them that before they become an area scout, they should do a year of pro scouting. Just because you get to see what’s playing in the league. If you just go out on the road and always looking for the heigh, weight, speed guy, but then there’s that big ugly who might not be the most dominant athlete, but he finds a way to get it done. You guys know, those guys play in this league, and they play a long time in this league. And you can tend to miss on them because they don’t hit the height, weight, speed requirements.
Jeremiah, Brooks talking about how they first got going and what they needed to know:
My experience was the same as yours. I was a year removed from playing, Atlanta hires me, here’s some guys, watch ‘em, write ‘em up. Now, my thing was, I could tell if a guy can play, this guy can’t play, but the verbiage of it? Didn’t know how to write a report, had no clue. So I made sure once I got in a position where I had guys under me, we had a program that I’ve been running with the Rams for the past three seasons called Breakfast Club. In my office every morning, from Monday to Thursday, 5:30 in the morning to 7:30 in the morning, we’re watching guys together. Get through and that helps me get some college tape done before I have to go out and do my day. We’d watch three games on a guy, and then we’d go around the room and everyone gives their eval. That way we can talk about it, discuss it, “hey, think about this,” what do you mean when you say this, this is not a term we use. We use these terms. So it’s getting everybody on the same path and speaking the same language.
On having it that early in the morning:
Well, we got the name breakfast club because one of my favorite radio shows is called the Breakfast Club. And so, started in St. Louis, and everyone comes in and that’s what I’m listening to, and watching tape. And so the young guys just started to come in and we made it a thing, and then it just became Breakfast Club.
Brooks and Jeremiah talking about developing as a scout
Talking about Jared Goff
On first round QBs and best fits:
I’m gonna take DeShaun Watson. You’re going into a team that has the No. 1 defense in the league, has pieces on offense, and all they’re missing is that quarterback. You know, this kid has won on every level he’s been on. To take away from, a lot of people don’t know this, but during my time in Atlanta as a pro scout, DeShaun was the ball boy, so he got to see Matt Ryan prepare for a season. So he knows what it looks like … he was in high school … And so, he gets that, and he goes into [Bill O’Brien]’s team, and he’s a good guy for quarterbacks dating back to his time with New England. What he did with the young quarterback he had at Penn State, Hackenberg. Hackenberg, some say, had his best season under him. So I think that’s the best fit. Especially for a young quarterback, where it’s not all on you. You can let the defense lead you, and you just gotta be efficient and take care of the football.
On second round receiver he likes best:
I think JuJu. JuJu was a guy I liked, big, physical, strong receiver. Saw him as the quintessential No. 2, but then you’re going into a system where you got AB, you got Martavis coming back. So it’s not gonna all be on him to be the effective guy. He can come in, learn what it means to be a pro and professional receiver, and again, the kid’s only 20 years old.
On third round running backs he likes best:
I agree with that take [Alvin Kamara to Saints is best addition], and the only thing I have to add is, if you look at recently, things got away from that screen game that gave the rest of that league hell. The only time you saw it last year was against the Rams, to impede that pass rush. And they lit us up with that screen game. And that coincidentally was the only game I think that Sean Payton called the plays. Adding Alvin Kamara to that offense, expect to see that screen game back this year.
Offered a brief scouting story, and listened to Jeremiah and Brooks offer an awkward promo spot