Patriots' Day could be pivotal in 49ers' coach-GM search

Patriots' Day could be pivotal in 49ers' coach-GM search

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.

49ers interviews
Wednesday
Buffalo interim head coach Anthony Lynn (coach)

Thursday
Green Bay director of football operations Eliot Wolf (GM)
Green Bay director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst (GM)

Friday
Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton (GM)
Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (coach)

Saturday
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (coach)
*New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio (GM)

Sunday
Indianapolis vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III (GM)

Monday
Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay (coach)
Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott (coach)

Tuesday
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.

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Report: 49ers free agent ILB signing with rival Seahawks

Michael Wilhoite has spent his whole five-year NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers.

But now the free agent inside linebacker is reportedly switching sides in the NFC West rivalry. Wilhoite is set to sign with the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. 

Terms of the deal are unknown at this time. 

Wilhoite, 30, played in all 16 games last season for the 49ers, starting in only six. In 2016 he recorded 55 tackles, 30 less than 2015 in four less games, and forced one fumble. 

After earning a promotion from the 49ers' practice squad in 2012, Wilhoite's career in the Bay Area comes to an end with 268 tackles and three interceptions in 65 games. 

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NFL owners mull cutting regular-season OT to 10 minutes

NEW YORK -- NFL owners will consider proposals next week to cut regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10; eliminate players leaping over the line on kick plays; and expansion of coaches' challenges and what can be reviewed by officials.

In what promises to be a busy annual meeting next week in Phoenix that will include discussing the Raiders' potential relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the 32 owners also will vote on changing the mechanics on replay reviews and other items intended to reduce downtime during games.

The Eagles proposed four rules changes, including abolishing the leaping techniques that league football operations director Troy Vincent said Thursday "don't belong in the game."

Seattle and Buffalo co-authored a proposal allowing a coach to challenge any officiating decision, whether a foul is called or not.

"That is a significant change to our current replay rule and it is something that will be on the floor and will be debated next week," NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said.

Another major change would be the reduction of overtime in-season; the extra period in the playoffs would remain at 15 minutes. The powerful competition committee, of which Vincent and Blandino are members, believed it's a player safety issue, noting that number of snaps for games going to OT - especially deep into the overtime - is excessive. Especially if a team has a quick turnaround.

"We don't know where a team is going to be playing the next week, it could be four days later," said committee chairman Rich McKay, president of the Atlanta Falcons. "We felt we should put an end to it. We don't think it will lead to more ties. Could it? It could, but we are not concerned with that."

As for changing the format of overtime to ensure both teams always get a possession - a popular topic after how the Super Bowl ended - Blandino said the league's wants to keep the element of sudden death in the extra period.

The "leaper rule" has taken some priority among competition committee members, the players' union and coaches. Vincent said coaches have begun scheming how to defense it, which can "create a real safety issue."

"It is really in the best interest of the game" to outlaw leaping on kicks," Vincent added.

McKay noted that the NCAA is in the process of passing a similar ban on the technique.

During the meetings that run from Sunday to Wednesday, the teams will be shown plays the competition committee believes should result in suspensions or ejections. Game officials already have had the leeway to eject players, but it rarely has happened; there were three in 2016.

"They don't happen very often, let's give the players credit," McKay said. "We have 40,000 plays in a year. We'll show a tape that will have four or five plays that would warrant suspension. This is not a widespread situation."

Added Vincent, a former NFL defensive back: "When you see the plays, they are catastrophic. We had two players who did not return for the season. They are high-impact plays that belong out of the game. It will be a real point of emphasis this season."