Mike Nolan endorses Terry McDonough for 49ers' GM job

Mike Nolan endorses Terry McDonough for 49ers' GM job

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who hired Scott McCloughan to handle the team’s personnel department in 2005, has a clear top choice for San Francisco’s vacant general manager position.

And one day after writing about Arizona Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough on social media and talking about him on KNBR, McDonough has landed on the 49ers’ list of candidates.

The 49ers plan to interview McDonough for the vacant general manager post to replace Trent Baalke, multiple sources told CSNBayArea.com on Tuesday night.

“He was groomed under (Baltimore general manager) Ozzie Newsome and (Baltimore assistant general manager) Eric DeCosta, as well as (Arizona general manager) Steve Keim,” Nolan told CSNBayArea.com on Wednesday morning. “He will follow their example. He will not meddle in coaching. He will focus on getting players.”

More than half of the 49ers' starters from their three consecutive teams that advanced to the NFC Championship Game under coach Jim Harbaugh were acquired under Nolan and McCloughan. Nolan was fired during the 2008 season. McCloughan and the 49ers parted ways just prior to the 2010 draft.

The 49ers hired Nolan after he served three seasons as Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator. Nolan played the key role in hiring McCloughan, who was the Seattle Seahawks director of college scouting. Nolan and McCloughan did not know each other before working together for 3 1/2 seasons.

Nolan overlapped with McDonough for two seasons while both men worked for the Ravens in the early 2000s. Nolan said he has spoken with McDonough on “limited occasions” through the years but has closely followed his career and has spoken to people he trusts who speak highly of McDonough.

Around the league, McDonough is known as fiery and opinionated but universally respected for his ability to evaluate talent.

“He has good people skills and most of all can set his ego aside when it comes to doing what's best,” Nolan said. “In other words, conflict is a good thing as long as there is compromise.”

McDonough completed his fourth season with the Cardinals and his third in his current position, in which he oversees the college and pro personnel departments while assisting on the negotiations of player contracts. He began his career as an intern with the 49ers in 1989.

The 49ers have already interviewed Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst of Green Bay, Minnesota’s George Paton, Carolina’s Brandon Beane, Indianapolis’ Jimmy Raye III and ESPN analyst Louis Riddick. The 49ers are also scheduled to interview Seattle co-directors of player personnel Scott Fitterer and Trent Kirchner.

CEO Jed York and Paraag Marathe, the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and vice president of football operations, are conducting the team’s interviews for the coach and general manager positions. 

"We need to make sure that the head coach and the general manager know each other, have a good understanding for each other," York said last week.

Among the most logical coach pairings with McDonough, according to league sources, would be Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay.

Mike Nolan praises 49ers exec Paraag Marathe: 'Son of a gun is good'

Mike Nolan praises 49ers exec Paraag Marathe: 'Son of a gun is good'

Jed York and Paraag Marathe were a part of the team that interviewed Mike Nolan in January 2005.

On Tuesday morning, the former 49ers head coach was asked if York and Marathe need to simply "get out of the way" and let the football people make the decisions in Santa Clara.

[RELATED: Nolan: Problem with 49ers systemic, 'they love you, then they hate you']

"After they pick a guy, definitely. But in the process, they're the ones making the decision," Nolan said on KNBR 680. "They've done this a few times. Everyone is very hopeful that they get it right, but obviously they've failed a few times so they're saying, 'You've screwed this thing up a few times, so please get out of the way.'

"I believe they're asking the right questions ... they need to make the best decision based on all the information. They're gonna get all the information, believe me. I have all the trust in the world. 

"I think Paraag, personally, I think he's one of the best at the job he does ... as far as the cap and contracts and really putting together all the information -- I'm just telling you, the son-of-a-gun is good. 

"I have absolutely zero questions in my mind how good he is. But the two of them have to put their heads together and pick the right guy."

[REWIND: Nolan: 49ers chose 'safe' Smith over 'cocky, arrogant' Rodgers]

York and Marathe need to pick more than just one guy, as the 49ers are in the market for a head coach and a general manager.

"I think they're headed in the right direction, they're just gonna have to pull the trigger on the right guy."

Nolan believes the 49ers should hire the GM first and the head coach second.

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan supports Trent Baalke over Chip Kelly

Former 49ers coach Mike Nolan supports Trent Baalke over Chip Kelly

Mike Nolan coached the 49ers for three full seasons before he was fired after Week 7 in his fourth year at the helm.

On Monday morning, he was asked about the situation in Santa Clara and if he would make a change at head coach or general manager.

"It's sad that it's gone to where it is," Nolan said on 95.7 The Game. "They're beginning to look much like when I took the job over in 2005 ... and there really was not a lot of good personnel on the team.

"The difference though that is better and will continue to be better, they will be (in) a much better cap situation going forward than we ever were back then ... but the losing I should say is really killing them.

"The personnel is not as bad as they're playing and that's the thing that really gets under your skin as a coach because you're frustrated by what's going on ... the thing that I have thought most of the season when people were talking about changes as the losses started to mount up, was not to change it. Because I know Trent (Baalke) personally, and Trent does a good job with personnel and that's his primary job.

"But for a lot of strange reasons -- guys retiring, guys quitting a couple years ago, just a lot of weird things that occurred -- their roster has kind of fallen off a little bit, but it is still a much better roster than some of these other teams that are not winning."

After winning their Week 1 game against the Rams, the 49ers have lost a franchise-record 11 straight games.

Chip Kelly is under contract through 2019 and the team owes Jim Tomsula $7 million over the next two years combined.

Baalke's contract runs through 2018.

"It's about players first and I think they have the right guy in place to pick the players but unfortunately for Trent, I think the choice of Tomsula hurt him and currently right now with Chip Kelly it's not helping him either," Nolan added. "They do not have a bad roster.

"Obviously they need a quarterback. They could be a .500 team in my opinion if they get a quarterback as near as next year even ... they got a tough decision to make at the end."