Paraag Marathe

Lynch, McDonough On 49ers’ GM Job

The 49ers’ Sunday decision to pluck all-time great NFL safety John Lynch from the broadcasting booth and hire him as their general manager elicited stunned responses from those who follow football. It turns out not even Lynch expected to land the job.

John Lynch (featured)

“Two weeks ago I never thought I’d be doing this,” he told reporters, including Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, on Monday (Twitter link).

Lynch didn’t even conduct an interview with the 49ers, who reached out to 11 other candidates after firing ex-GM Trent Baalke at the outset of January. But Lynch managed to secure a six-year contract to end up in San Francisco, and he revealed that he negotiated his own deal, tweets Cam Inman of the Mercury News. Lynch added that will report solely to CEO Jed York. That means he won’t have to answer to executive vice president of football operations/chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe, whose status as York’s right-hand man caused some issues during the 49ers’ GM search.

In his new position, Lynch’s goal is to emulate the success close friend and fellow Stanford alumnus John Elway has enjoyed as the Broncos’ GM since they hired him in 2011.

“I strive to attack this job in same way he has,” said Lynch, who will interview Broncos director of college scouting Adam Peters to become the 49ers’ player personnel director (Twitter link via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).

Of course, the main figure Lynch will work with in the Bay Area is soon-to-be head coach and current Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The 37-year-old recommended Lynch to York, per Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area Newspaper Group (Twitter link), and there’s clearly a mutual respect between the pending GM-head coach tandem.

“I thought he was the catch of this head-coaching cycle,” opined Lynch (via Branch, on Twitter).

Cardinals VP of player personnel Terry McDonough, who was a finalist to become San Francisco’s GM before Lynch swooped in, offered even loftier praise for Shanahan on Monday.

“Sitting there talking to him, Kyle reminded me a lot of coach Belichick when I interviewed with him back in ’92,” McDonough, who then worked as a scout with the Browns, told Maiocco. “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.”

McDonough noted that the Lynch- and Shanahan-led 49ers will have their work cut out to improve a two-win roster. However, he believes the organization has the right people in place – including the “very engaging and really intelligent” Marathe.

“That roster right now is very thin,” he said. “I really believe in John Lynch’s intelligence and drive. Their drive matches each other, Kyle and John.”

Continued McDonough: “John Lynch is a guy I actually scouted coming out of college (Stanford). 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.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers Prepared To Restart GM Search

The 49ers’ GM search enters its fourth week, and the team’s finalist contingent is unclear after two prospective members — since-re-signed Packers execs Eliot Wolf and Brian Gutekunst — dropped out of the running recently. The team is prepared to reopen its search if necessary at this point, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets.

Although a report hinted at this on Sunday, this runs counter to the 49ers’ initial plan of sticking with their list of initial candidates. Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Cardinals VP of player personnel Terry McDonough continue to reside as the de facto finalists after the Jed York-led nine-man search. New candidates could include Falcons director of football operations Nick Polk or Jaguars director of player personnel Chris Polian. La Canfora mentions former Browns executive Morocco Brown, who worked with Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland, and Redskins exec Alex Santos as options if the 49ers indeed reopen this search.

In addition to York’s involvement in the search, outside trepidation regarding executive Paraag Marathe‘s influence has served as a factor during this lengthy process as well, La Canfora notes.

La Canfora also passes along that Shanahan would likely receive control over the team’s 53-man roster if he’s hired to become the next head coach as expected, describing the upcoming scenario as the new GM essentially reporting to the coach. This also contradicts a previous San Francisco direction, with word coming out the Atlanta OC was comfortable working alongside a GM and didn’t need control over the roster.

The 49ers are now potentially competing for executives with the Colts, who fired GM Ryan Grigson over the weekend. Indianapolis is eyeing internal candidate Jimmy Raye III, whom the 49ers interviewed but didn’t categorize as a finalist, as an early frontrunner for the job.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching Notes: 49ers, Rams, Bears, Bills

The fact that Kyle Shanahan is the only head coaching possibility remaining in the 49ers’ once-deep pool of candidates gives him significant leverage, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Along with helping the 49ers pick their next general manager, which he’ll do next week, Shanahan is expected to become the highest-paid rookie head coach of all-time, according to Florio. Moreover, Shanahan – not his GM – will likely have final say over the roster and draft in San Francisco.

One problem the 49ers have encountered during their head coaching search is the amount of influence that CEO Jed York’s right-hand man, Paraag Marathe, has over football matters, relays Florio. While it won’t bother Shanahan enough to avoid taking the job, Marathe’s presence could become an issue down the line, Florio suggests.

In the improbable event Shanahan turns the Niners down, it would be catastrophic for a franchise whose reputation has been in serious decline since it parted with Jim Harbaugh a couple years ago, observes CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. The 49ers have fired their post-Harbaugh head coaches, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly, after one season apiece and a combined 7-25 record. And those two were not coveted around the NFL when the 49ers hired them. Rather, the team had to settle in each case, and things could get even worse this year if Shanahan stays in Atlanta and San Fran has to go back to the drawing board as February approaches.

In other coaching news…

  • The possibility of longtime NFL assistant Aaron Kromer serving as Rams head coach Sean McVay‘s offensive coordinator is “getting stronger,” tweets Jason Cole of Bleacher Report. McVay wants someone with an O-line background to fill the role, and Kromer has plenty of experience in that regard. He has overseen the lines in Oakland, New Orleans and Buffalo, and has also been an offensive coordinator in Chicago.
  • The Bears will hire Curtis Modkins as their running backs coach, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN (Twitter link). He’ll replace Stan Drayton, who left after Chicago’s season ended to take a job at the University of Texas. Modkins, who was the aforementioned Chip Kelly‘s offensive coordinator in San Francisco in 2016, has also coached running backs in Kansas City, Arizona and Detroit.
  • The Bills have named Kelly Skipper their running backs coach, per Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Skipper previously held those roles in Oakland and Jacksonville, two places where he worked under then-offensive coordinator Greg Olson. The connection is notable because Olson is the only known candidate for the Bills’ O-coordinator job.

49ers Name Al Guido Team President

FEBRUARY 18: About two and a half months after the 49ers’ front office reassignment was initially reported, the team has confirmed new titles for Al Guido and Paraag Marathe. According to a press release, Guido will be the club’s new president, while Marathe is now the Niners’ chief strategy officer and executive VP of football operations, as well as a managing partner in the investment entity created by the Yorks.

DECEMBER 5: York addressed the moves in an email to his staff (published on 49ers.com), discussing Marathe’s new role in the organization:

“Paraag has chosen to take a leadership role in the organization’s new ventures efforts. As you know, Paraag has been the lead in our partnership with the Sacramento Republic FC soccer team and was instrumental in developing and launching VenueNext. We anticipate great things to come from our new ventures wing as it continues to grow.

Despite how some have chosen to portray this transition in the media, I want you to know that Paraag has been and will continue to be an instrumental member of this organization. Without his contributions over the last 15 years, the successes achieved by this organization would not have been possible.”

York also discussed how Guido would take over some of Marathe’s previous responsibilities:

“With Paraag focusing so much time and energy on new business opportunities, Al has taken the lead on the day-to-day business operations of the team and Levi’s® Stadium.”

DECEMBER 4: 49ers president Paraag Marathe has been reassigned from his current role with the team, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. According to Maiocco, Marathe will remain with his current title and job description for another couple months, but after the Super Bowl, he’ll take on a lesser role with the Niners and will become more involved in outside business ventures, including the Sacramento Republic soccer team.

Following his reassignment, Marathe will remain involved with the Niners to some extent. Per Maiocco, he’ll continue to manage San Francisco’s salary cap and will still be the club’s top contract negotiator. However, most of his new job description will focus on the 49ers’ outside business interests.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), the decision to change up the roles in the 49ers’ front office happened months ago, but the team wanted to make it through the 2015 season before instituting those changes. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, meanwhile, reports (via Twitter) that the reassignment was Marathe’s decision, since it gives him a chance to do more things and to be an equity partner in the York family’s ventures.

Of course, Schefter’s report would be a little easier to believe if the Niners hadn’t painted Jim Harbaugh‘s departure from the franchise last winter as a “mutual parting.” An NFL source tells Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News that one of the reasons Marathe is being deposed from his team president role is that he’s “believed to be the source of many recent leaks to national reporters, most notably the reports discrediting Colin Kaepernick.” Keeping that in mind, it’s easy to be skeptical about the report from Schefter, a national reporter.

In any case, according to Kawakami, no 49ers executive has been more polarizing than Marathe during his long tenure with the club, and he’s also one of owner Jed York‘s closest confidantes. As such, his reassignment represents something of a “sea change” for San Francisco’s front office structure.

Per Kawakami, Niners executive Al Guido is expected to assume many of Marathe’s administrative responsibilities. The team president title figures to come along with Guido’s new responsibilities, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.

NFC Notes: Lacy, Forte, 49ers, Kilgore

After back-to-back 100-yard games, Eddie Lacy didn’t see much action on Thursday night against the Lions, which seemed like an unusual call on the Packers‘ part, even though Lacy didn’t do much with his handful of carries. However, it seems Green Bay’s decision wasn’t solely based on Lacy’s on-field performance.

According to Rob Demovksy of ESPN.com, Lacy and fellow running back Alonzo Harris missed curfew on Wednesday night in Detroit. The violation of team rules resulted in a demotion for Lacy and a lost roster spot for Harris, who was cut just hours before the game in favor of practice squad back John Crockett.

When I passed along word earlier this afternoon that the Packers brought in former Broncos running back Montee Ball for a workout today, I noted that the Green Bay backfield situation was worth monitoring. That’s even more true in the wake of Demovsky’s report.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel adds a few more names to the group of players who worked out for the Packers today, tweeting that wide receivers Jamel Johnson, Deon Long, and Kevin Vereen also got auditions.
  • Matt Forte has been with the Bears his whole career, but is prepared to move on this offseason if they don’t offer him a contract, writes Chris Wesseling of NFL.com. “There’s nothing I can do, really, except play football,” Forte said. “The decision on whether I stay or whether I go is not really up to me. It’s whether I get offered a contract extension, which I haven’t been offered one and doesn’t really look like it. If not, I go into free agency. So I’m pretty much satisfied with either way it goes.”
  • Addressing the reassignment of team president Paraag Marathe, which was reported earlier today, 49ers CEO Jed York has issued a statement via the club’s website. As expected, York presents the decision as one that Marathe was involved in making. “Despite how some have chosen to portray this transition in the media, I want you to know that Paraag has been and will continue to be an instrumental member of this organization,” York said in the statement.
  • 49ers center Daniel Kilgore is expected to make the trip to Chicago this weekend as a part of the active roster, but the 49ers still need to move him from the physically-unable-to-perform list. Head coach Jim Tomsula hinted that the move would occur on Saturday morning, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee.