Terry McDonough

49ers GM finalist: Lynch, Shanahan have matching drives to succeed

49ers GM finalist: Lynch, Shanahan have matching drives to succeed

Longtime NFL scout and executive Terry McDonough, a finalist for the 49ers’ general manager position, was surprised to learn Sunday evening the club hired John Lynch for the position he coveted.

But McDonough said he believes the 49ers hired two individuals – Lynch and presumptive head coach Kyle Shanahan -- who share a similar passion and drive to ultimately turn around the franchise.

McDonough, the Arizona Cardinals’ vice president of player personnel, took part in a second interview with the 49ers on Saturday in Atlanta. He met with CEO Jed York, chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe and Shanahan.

McDonough and Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton were the known finalists for the job to replace Trent Baalke, whose firing was announced shortly after the 49ers concluded a 2-14 season.

Ultimately, the 49ers made the surprising decision to hire Lynch, who served the past eight seasons as an NFL television analyst on FOX after a 15-year NFL playing career. Both Lynch and Shanahan will receive six-year contracts, according to a source.

“You have to admire Jed,” McDonough told CSNBayArea.com on Monday. “Six years is a big commitment. He realized it’s going to take a long time. That roster right now is very thin. I really believe in John Lynch’s intelligence and drive. Their drive matches each other, Kyle and John.”

The 49ers are not allowed to officially hire Shanahan, the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator, until after Sunday’s season-ending game. The Falcons face Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51 in Houston.

McDonough said he recognized similarities between Shanahan and Belichick, under whom he worked as an area scout for four seasons with the Cleveland Browns more than two decades ago.

“Sitting there talking to him, Kyle reminded me a lot of coach Belichick when I interviewed with him back in ’92,” McDonough said. “Same type of look in their eye. The same type of passion. You just know whatever Kyle Shanahan does, he’s going to be successful in life. If he’s given the time there and they bring in the right players, there’s no doubt in my mind, he’s going to have success.”

When McDonough first interviewed with the 49ers on Jan. 13 in Santa Clara, Shanahan topped his list of prospective coaches. When the two men were able to sit around and talk football on Saturday, McDonough said his belief in Shanahan was confirmed.

“I’d heard about his attention to detail and his drive, and he was tireless,” McDonough said. “He’s the first guy in; last guy to leave. Incredibly prepared. A lot of people I know in Atlanta had tremendous respect for him. I like the fact that he had overcome some bad situations in his past and he ended up on top.

“Plus, his offensive game plans and his schemes are phenomenal. We (the Cardinals) had the second-ranked defense in the NFL this year, and he put on a display that day against us (in a game the Falcons won, 38-19).”

Shanahan conducted interviews with Lynch, Paton and McDonough from Friday evening through Saturday. The Falcons allowed Shanahan the opportunity to shift his focus to his next job after a full week of game-planning for the Patriots and before leaving the next day for the Super Bowl.

“You could tell, half his brain was preparing for the Patriots and the other half of his brain was probably realizing he’s about to become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers,” McDonough said.

McDonough began his scouting career as an intern with the 49ers in 1989. He said he felt as if the situation with the 49ers was a perfect fit for him. He said he had a strong chance to get the job after an encouraging final interview.

“It was a total rebuild through the roster and they want to do it through the college draft,” McDonough said of the 49ers. “Paraag Marathe reached out and he could not have been more professional. I did not know him. When I met him, I found him very engaging and really intelligent. He conducted the first interview, and he was incredible thorough. When I was done with that first interview, I said, ‘This is a guy I would want to partner with, along with Jed and whoever the new head coach might be.’

“When I heard it was Kyle, and I met Kyle, I just really believed that was going to be a great job.”

While the future of quarterback Colin Kaepernick was not discussed in the meetings, according to McDonough, there was conversation about the structure of the 49ers' decision-making power.

“They never mentioned Colin to me,” McDonough said. “I just think that Kyle is going to be given the ability to put players in place that fit his system, which has proven to be a successful system. His father ran it. He runs it.”

McDonough said Shanahan spoke about working in unison with the 49ers’ next general manager to determine the moves that were needed to build the roster.

“It was not big at all,” McDonough said about the topic of personnel power. “When we discussed that, I told him every situation I’ve been around, the ones that were good, were when people worked together. It wasn’t an ‘I’ thing it was a ‘we’ thing. He was totally on board.

“The 53 is something that he might have wanted to have on his side of the ledger, but he was totally open to any type of structure, as long as it was in the best interest of winning. That’s what he all about. He talked about ‘winning’ and ‘building’ and ‘team’ and ‘us’ and ‘we.’ There wasn’t a lot of ‘I’ in there.”

McDonough said there was no shame in losing out to Lynch, even though he has no experience working in NFL personnel.

“John Lynch is a guy I actually scouted coming out of college (Stanford),” McDonough said. “If you’re going to lose a competition to someone, you’d want to lose it to someone like John Lynch. He’s a phenomenal human being. He’s highly, highly intelligent and 100-percent class.

“Just knowing John Lynch like I have from afar, he will give all his effort, 100-percent of his effort, into turning the Niners around. I’m a big fan of John Lynch.”

Source: 49ers GM post down to three candidates

Source: 49ers GM post down to three candidates

The 49ers are expected to fill their vacant general manager position early this week, a source with knowledge of the search told CSNBayArea.com on Sunday.

Team executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe, along with presumptive head coach Kyle Shanahan, met with Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton and Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough in Atlanta.

The search also includes a third candidate with whom Shanahan is believed to be comfortable working, according to another source. ESPN analyst Mark Dominik has widely been speculated as an individual who could emerge in consideration for the 49ers’ general manager position. The 49ers have discussed Dominik, a source said last week, but there has been no formal interview.

Dominik and Shanahan overlapped for two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004 and ’05, when Shanahan was the team’s offensive quality control coach. Dominik worked as director of pro scouting for the Buccaneers from 1997 to 2008. From 2009 until he was fired at the conclusion of the 2013 season, Dominik served as Tampa Bay's general manager. The Buccaneers were 28-52 in Dominik’s five seasons as GM.

Paton took part in an informal dinner Friday evening with Shanahan and the 49ers representatives. Paton and Shanahan interviewed at length on Saturday. Based on the extended period of time he spent with Shanahan, Paton appears to be a favorite. Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn worked with Paton with the Miami Dolphins and is believed to have recommended Paton to Shanahan.

Paton is also one of six individuals who interviewed with the Indianapolis Colts to replace general manager Ryan Grigson. The Colts' search ended on Sunday when the club announced the hiring of Kansas City director of player personnel Chris Ballard for the job.

McDonough interviewed with the 49ers and Shanahan after Paton’s meeting ended on Saturday.

The source said the 49ers could have a new general manager in place by the middle of the week.

York announced the firings of coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke shortly after the 49ers’ final game on Jan. 1. The 49ers tied the organization’s lowest win total with a 2-14 record, including a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak.

The 49ers are prohibited from officially hiring Shanahan, Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, until the Falcons finish the season on Feb. 5 against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51.

Shanahan spoke with Paton and McDonough in the face-to-face meetings about how much control in personnel the positions would wield – both contractually and functionally, according to a source.

The source said Shanahan has never insisted on control over the team’s roster but wants a voice in all personnel decisions. The 49ers are expected to enter the offseason with approximately $80 million in salary cap room. The 49ers also have a scheduled 10 draft picks, including the No. 2 selections in each round. The 49ers are also expected to pick up a compensatory selection.

49ers' final two are contrasting GM candidates

49ers' final two are contrasting GM candidates

The 49ers’ general manager search has narrowed to two known candidates who spent the week leading up to their second interviews with the organization in entirely different ways.

Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough was scouting for the upcoming NFL Draft at the Senior Bowl. Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton remained in the office and was not in Mobile, Alabama, according to multiple NFL sources.

CEO Jed York and 49ers chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe had an informal dinner on Friday night with presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and Paton in the Atlanta area. After an evening of getting more acquainted, the conversation was expected to turn to business on Saturday morning.

After the 49ers and Shanahan wrap up with Paton, the men are scheduled to meet with McDonough.

A source said this week that there is a "good chance" the 49ers' next general manager will be chosen from two known finalists but "it's not a lock."

There is plenty for all sides to discuss on Saturday. A league source told CSNBayArea.com that Shanahan has not insisted on complete control over the 49ers’ roster but he wants to ensure a relationship with the general manager in which both men are collaborating on all personnel decisions.

Paton is well-regarded around the league and has turned down opportunities in the past to interview for GM positions with the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. He is also one of six individuals to interview for the Indianapolis Colts job after owner Jim Irsay fired general manager Ryan Grigson last week.

Paton is rarely seen on the scouting circuit, according to league sources. His primary responsibilities while working under Vikings general manager Rick Spielman – they have also worked together previously with Chicago and Miami – has been in the office working on the pro personnel side.

League sources who have spoken with CSNBayArea.com since the beginning of the general manager search are not certain Paton will accept the 49ers’ job, if he is offered that opportunity.

League sources have described McDonough as “fiery,” “opinionated,” and “passionate.”

A Cardinals source on Saturday told CSNBayArea.com that general manager Steve Keim has relied heavily on McDonough for his opinions in free agency and the draft over the four years they have worked together in Arizona.

The source said McDonough is fearless in his evaluations and helped uncover such small-school prospects as running back David Johnson (2015, third round, Northern Iowa), wide receiver John Brown (2014, third round, Pittsburg State) and defensive lineman Rodney Gunter (2015, fourth round, Delaware State).

McDonough has not been involved in contract negotiations, which has been Marathe's responsibility for most of his 16 years with the organization. During the season, McDonough typically hits the road Tuesday through Thursday to evaluate the nation's top college prospects.

“That’s his No. 1 asset,” the source said.

The 49ers currently own 10 draft picks, in addition to one expected compensatory selection. The 49ers, coming off a 2-14 season, own the No. 2 selection in each round. York announced the firings of coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke hours after the final game of the season.

49ERS COACH/GM SEARCH
Wednesday, Jan. 4

Buffalo interim head coach Anthony Lynn (hired, L.A. Chargers)

Thursday, Jan. 5
Green Bay director of football operations Eliot Wolf (withdrew)
Green Bay director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst (withdrew)

Friday, Jan. 6
Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton (finalist)
Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (presumptive coach)

Saturday, Jan. 7
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (withdrew)

Sunday, Jan. 8
Indianapolis vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III (eliminated after first round)

Monday, Jan. 9
Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay (hired, L.A. Rams)
Carolina assistant general manager Brandon Beane (eliminated after first round)

Tuesday, Jan. 10
Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott (hired, Buffalo)
ESPN analyst Louis Riddick (eliminated after first round)

Friday, Jan. 13
Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough (finalist)

Sunday, Jan. 15
Seattle offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable (withdrew)

Monday, Jan. 16
Seattle co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer (eliminated after first round)
Seattle co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner (withdrew)

FOLLOW-UP INTERVIEWS
Friday, Jan. 27

Shanahan
Paton

Saturday, Jan. 28
Shanahan
Paton
McDonough