49ers' reminded of good fortune after McDaniels' jilting of Colts


49ers' reminded of good fortune after McDaniels' jilting of Colts

The 49ers found their man, but they had to wait an excruciatingly long period of time before it could become official.

Now, every team that chooses to wait to hire a head coach will be tormented by the memory of Josh McDaniels and his broken promise to the Indianapolis Colts.

McDaniels was assumed to be the Colts’ next head coach for weeks. Indianapolis just had to wait until the New England Patriots’ season was over until it could become official.

Two days after the Super Bowl, the Colts announced the sides had agreed to terms with McDaniels to become their head coach. But just hours later, McDaniels bailed out of his commitment and decided to remain with Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

A year ago, McDaniels was a strong contender for the 49ers head-coaching opening. McDaniels and Kyle Shanahan – the offensive coordinators of the Super Bowl teams – were seemingly the only two serious candidates to replace Chip Kelly.

San Francisco executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe set out to find the right tandem of coach and general manager.

After years of conflict and incompatibility among their coach and general manager, York’s goal was modest: Find two people at the top of the football structure who could merely “work together.”

Fortunately for the 49ers, the dalliance with McDaniels never got too far.

The 49ers interviewed McDaniels on the same day he also sat down with Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Rams. The 49ers envisioned a coach-GM team of McDaniels and Patriots personnel executive Nick Caserio.

But Caserio chose not to interview with the 49ers, leaving McDaniels without a logical general manager candidate with whom to work. Shanahan was more flexible with the team’s list of potential general managers and became the coach candidate the 49ers saw as the better fit.

On January 16, three weeks before the Super Bowl, McDaniels officially withdrew from consideration for the job.

All the focus shifted to Shanahan, who shortly thereafter unofficially accepted the 49ers’ unofficial job offer. It was a family decision, and even Mandy Shanahan, Kyle’s wife, spoke with the 49ers to confirm the commitment.

While York and Marathe might have felt increasingly secure they had their man, there was plenty of anxiety with the 49ers’ fan base before the deal could become official.

Eight days before the Super Bowl, the 49ers were allowed to meet with Shanahan again. This time, the entire purpose of the meetings was to find the right general manager to work with Shanahan.

Arizona executive Terry McDonough and Minnesota’s George Paton were the known finalists for the job. But Shanahan, in secrecy, had his preference. The day after Shanahan took part in interviews with McDonough and Paton, the 49ers announced John Lynch as the team’s general manager.

There was never any drama, never any hint at the time Shanahan would get cold feet and change his mind.

One day after the Super Bowl, the 49ers announced Kyle Shanahan as their head coach – not an “agreement,” but an actual signed contract.

One year later, the 49ers have to feel fortunate. After all, the Colts saw how badly things can turn out when trust is placed in the wrong individual.


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”