The San Francisco 49ers are on the verge of having the least interesting (or appealing) job search in recent NFL history. In fact, they may have already achieved that honor.
While the other 31 teams were either already set and found their guy (or guys) in a fairly timely fashion, Jed York and Paraag Marathe are still interviewing candidates, and if reports are to be believed that their top coaching choice, Josh McDaniels, has decided to pass in hopes of finding a better gig in the next job vacancy cycle, they are now considered within football as they are outside it.
An ongoing disaster.
Since the end of the season, the 49ers have been without a head coach for 15 days, and a general manager for 17. York and Marathe have shown no particular urgency in filling either job, presumably on the theory that they can wait until February 6, the day after the Super Bowl, if need be.
The problem with that plan, of course, is that for 37 days (or 39) it’s rabbit season/duck season/rabbit season/duck season/York season, and when it’s York season, it’s also brand season.
In other words, the 49ers are currently further from New England, Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Atlanta than any other team, and while nothing really matters in mid-January for 28 of the 32 teams, the notion that a potential head coach would be willing to wait out the current cycle in hopes of doing better next time should be sufficiently galling to a fan base already revolted by its team.
This would all be different if there was a reason to be encouraged by York’s hiring history. Even the one he got right (He Whose Name Must Never Be Spoken, Michigan Division) he got wrong because he hired someone he thought he could tame and failed miserably – a clear vetting problem that lays squarely at the feet of the employer.
So no, York has shown no facility for coaching personnel judgment, and since owners hire coaches (and can’t be dismissed, as a great man once said) this delay does not represent wisdom but an increasing chance of failure.
Which brings us to Kyle Shanahan or Tom Cable, two guys who probably can’t be as picky as McDaniels.
Shanahan, the Atlanta offensive coordinator, has helped the Falcons create the most dynamic offense of the decade, but would be coming to a place where he has zero dynamic players, and therefore would be savaged almost immediately for not “coaching ‘em up,” as Chip Kelly was halfway through his first season, and Jim Tomsula was on the day of his first press conference.
Cable, the Seattle assistant head coach and offensive line coach, comes pre-condemned for coaching the Oakland Raiders in the aftermath of the Al Davis-Lane Kiffin tire fire, as well for as clocking assistant coach Randy Hanson (a lawsuit was settled in arbitration) and for allegations of domestic violence that Davis cited when he fired him after 44 games. He would not be given much benefit of the doubt because his history does not comfort, and because these are angry times in 49er World anyway.
So the speculation drags on, mostly on a low simmer, and it only makes York and Marathe look like the masters of a sinking ship. That isn’t a truly fair characterization, since by rule they have to wait on Shanahan, but when it comes to a 2-14 team (which has won one less game in the last two years in the last year of the discredited-in-house coach with no name) run by the son of a man who had his own organizational issues with the very same franchise, fair has nothing to do with it.
But look at the bright side. This could last another three weeks. At least they’ll know they didn’t get their first choice.