The 49ers’ coaching search is down to one candidate.
And that candidate, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, is scheduled to meet Saturday with two 49ers’ general manager candidates before he takes off for Super Bowl 51 the next day. The 49ers are prohibited from officially hiring Shanahan until after the Falcons' final game, Feb. 5.
A source close to the 49ers’ search said there is a “good chance,” the team will hire Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough or Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton.
But, the source told CSNBayArea.com, “It’s not a lock.”
On Jan. 2 while discussing the decision to fire coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke after the 49ers’ 2-14 season, CEO Jed York said he wanted to match a coach with a general manager from outside the organization to change the culture of the club.
York and Paraag Marathe, the 49ers’ chief strategy officer and executive vice president of football operations, interviewed nine candidates for the general manager post. Only McDonough and Paton remain from that original list. But others could be considered for the GM job if there's a question of chemistry with Shanahan.
Shanahan has never worked with McDonough or Paton. Moreover, Shanahan has minimal or no history with either man, according to sources.
McDonough and Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, have spoken often through the years. McDonough is believed to have told the 49ers his No. 1 choice for a coach with whom to be paired was Kyle Shanahan, based on his offensive mastery. McDonough played a role in building the Cardinals’ defense, which has ranked in the top five the past two seasons.
After going 13-3 in 2015, Arizona was one of just two NFL teams that ranked in the top 10 on offense and defense this season. Super Bowl-bound New England was the other.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn appears to be a common thread between Shanahan and Paton. There were reports two years ago Quinn and Paton were attempting to land together as a coach-GM package deal. Quinn and Paton worked together with the Miami Dolphins.
Paton, who has turned down GM interview requests from the New York Jets and Miami in recent years, is also a candidate for Indianapolis' opening, the Colts announced on Wednesday.
Paton has been situated mostly in the pro scouting side during his NFL career. He has worked closely with Vikings general manager Rick Spielman the past 10 years in Minnesota and previously in Chicago and Miami.
In the event Shanahan and the 49ers do not find a match in either McDonough or Paton, ESPN analyst Mark Dominik could become involved.
Dominik has been out of work since being fired as Tampa Bay’s general manager in 2013. The Buccaneers posted a 28-52 record in five seasons while Dominik was on the job. A source told CSNBayArea.com the 49ers have discussed Dominik, but no official interview has been scheduled.