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.

Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season


Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season

Frank Gore is returning home to, in all likelihood, finish his professional football career.

Gore, 34, signed a one-year contract to enter his 14th NFL season with his hometown Miami Dolphins, the team announced Friday.

Gore grew up in Coconut Grove, Florida, and attended Coral Gables High School before playing collegiately at the University of Miami.

He played the first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. Gore ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,026 rushing yards – just 75 yards behind No. 4 Curtis Martin.

After rushing for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns with the 49ers, the club declined to offer him a multi-year contract following the 2014 season. Gore played the past three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Gore remains one of the most popular players in 49ers history. When asked recently if he would be willing to “retire” as a member of the 49ers after his final game, Gore reacted enthusiastically about the possibility.

1, Emmitt Smith 18,355
2, Walter Payton 16,726
3, Barry Sanders 15,269
4, Curtis Martin 14,101
5, Frank Gore 14,026

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”