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Paraag Marathe talks with Mark Willard about all things 49ers

On Willard’s podcast “Ballers with Babies” Marathe elaborated on his contract negotiations with Richard Sherman and Jerick McKinnon, and what he learned from Bill Walsh.

Fox Sports radio personality (and friend) Mark Willard hosts radio podcast Ballers with Babies which gives a behind the scenes look into how an athlete’s (or someone in the sports industry) home life and professional life coexist. Willard most recently had President of 49ers Enterprises and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Paraag Marathe on his show. While Marathe had been criticized during the more challenging seasons for the franchise, he is now more famously known for his creative and effective contract structuring which has helped the team prepare for the long haul with a sizable amount of cap space to work with.

There is a lot of talk about Marathe’s family life, including his wife, two daughters and female pet pitbull (yes, he is completely outnumbered at home), as well as an intimate chat about his sister who died due to complications from anorexia in 2005. Marathe, of course, also had some great tidbits from his long career with the 49ers which has been his employer for nearly his entire adult life.

How it all started is very interesting. Legendary head coach Bill Walsh, by then a GM, was very instrumental in guiding Marathe down the path to where he is now. Walsh saw something in Marathe and helped him get a long term position with the franchise after the two met when the company he worked for was hired by the 49ers for a project during the 2001 draft.

What did Marathe learn from Walsh?

What I learned from him then, was how it used to be and how to carry that badge of honor I guess of what a proud franchise we were and try to get that luster back and that’s really what Jed and I set out to want to do back in early 2017 and build that back up.

Marathe has negotiated every player contract since 2004/2005 including former quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s which became well known for the QB “betting on himself.”

We had a good run with him here, and it was unfortunate that it didn’t work out for the life of the whole contract. I really like him, I respect him. He’s a good player and I wish nothing but the best for him.

When Marathe was asked about the team’s approach to Reuben Foster’s situation he reiterated what GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan had said previously.

We definitely stand by him and hope that everything works out for the best. He’s got all the talent in the world and we’re hoping for the best on that one.

On criticism about how the team handled it:

Every situation is different but if you believe in something with conviction, you want to stay true to that and tune out the noise.

Marathe’s direct negotiations with Richard Sherman have become quite famous and he has been criticized for taking advantage of the situation.

I dispute that. I think it’s a really great win win contract. Richard was phenomenal. He was confident, smart, eloquent, knew his stuff, studied every other player contract on the Niners, studied every other cornerback contract in the NFL. It was unfortunate because I think other agents probably viewed it as a threat to their profession that he negotiated his own contract. He actually did a phenomenal job.

It was totally different. There’s probably only 2 other times in my career of negotiating contracts where the player was even there during the negotiation. One was Frank Gore, and one was Justin Smith, but never did a player negotiate a contract start to finish with me. That was a really fun experience, and I came away totally impressed. I will not be surprised if Richard, when he’s done playing, is union president.”

One final nugget that Marathe revealed in the podcast were details on how negotiations with Jerick McKinnon’s agent went down:

I can remember working on Jerrick McKinnon’s free agent deal, that deal was consummated between 11p-3a my time and there was a lot of aggressive, I wouldn’t say yelling, but aggressive conversation between me and the agent.

You can listen to the full podcast here.