The 49ers’ search to piece together their next coach-general manager combination is in Day 3.
Team executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe interviewed Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton in the morning. York and Marathe are scheduled to travel to Atlanta in the afternoon to meet up with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
The key day of the search will take place on Saturday, when the 49ers are scheduled to be the last of three teams to interview New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Widely considered the hottest of the NFL coaching candidates, McDaniels is scheduled to have three-hour interviews with Jacksonville, Los Angeles and the 49ers. He will have one-hour breaks between those interviews, a source told CSNBayArea.com.
The Patriots’ playoff schedule dictates that the interviews will last an hour less than typical. Because New England opens its Super Bowl quest on Saturday, Jan. 14, coach Bill Belichick requested his coaches conclude all their interviews in time to get back to work full time on Sunday to begin preparations on a normal seven-day work week.
The 49ers have received permission to interview Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, a source said. But it’s still unclear whether Caserio will take part in an interview for the 49ers’ general manager position or whether he is content to remain as the Patriots’ top personnel executive.
One league source described any talks that take place with the top candidates: “You’re not interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you,” he said.
If Caserio remains with New England, it does not appear to be a deal-breaker for McDaniels, who could be comfortable working with ESPN analyst Louis Riddick or Green Bay director of football operations Eliot Wolf. The 49ers interviewed Wolf and Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst on Thursday.
McDaniels declined to interview for the 49ers’ vacancy in 2011, shortly after he was fired as coach of the Denver Broncos. He agreed to interview with the 49ers two years ago but ended up remaining with the Patriots while then-general manager Trent Baalke chose Jim Tomsula over Adam Gase.
So what makes the 49ers’ situation more attractive this time?
The 49ers have completely torn down the football structure at the time. Baalke was fired, along with coach Chip Kelly. So a top-coaching candidate, such as McDaniels, will get an opportunity to start building with a GM with whom he is comfortable.
Moreover, the 49ers will have an expected $80 million in salary cap room – nearly twice as much as the No. 2 team among those with coaching openings – and 10 draft picks, including the No. 2 overall selection.
NFL rules allow teams to conduct only one interview with an assistant coach before the two-week break before the Super Bowl. If an assistant coach has already interviewed with a team, he may have a second interview no later than the Sunday preceding the Super Bowl. The league’s anti-tampering policy states that no contact agreement can be agreed upon until after the conclusion of the coach’s season.
Buffalo interim head coach Anthony Lynn (coach)
Green Bay director of football operations Eliot Wolf (GM)
Green Bay director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst (GM)
Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton (GM)
Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (coach)
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (coach)
*New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio (GM)
Indianapolis vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III (GM)
Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay (coach)
Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott (coach)
Carolina assistant general manager Brandon Beane (GM)
ESPN analyst Louis Riddick (GM)
Next in line
Miami defensive coordinator Vance Joseph (coach)
Seattle offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable (coach)
Seattle co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer (GM)
Seattle co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner (GM)
*-The 49ers have received permission from New England to interview Caserio, but it’s uncertain if Caserio will take part in the interview.