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)
Friday, Jan. 27
Saturday, Jan. 28