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49ers interview Kyle Shanahan for coach, George Paton for GM
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SANTA CLARA (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers interviewed Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for their head coach opening and Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton for their GM vacancy.
Team CEO Jed York met with both candidates on Friday as part of his cross-country tour of interviews as he seeks to replace coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke following a 2-14 season that tied the worst mark in franchise history.
The 49ers have announced interviews with five candidates overall, with York meeting Wednesday with Buffalo Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn about the coaching job and Thursday with Green Bay director of football operations Eliot Wolf and Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst about becoming general manager.
York said he was open to hiring either the coach or general manager first.
Shanahan is the son of two-time Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Shanahan, who also won a title as offensive coordinator in San Francisco in 1994.
Kyle Shanahan’s stock as a candidate has climbed as his Atlanta offense has flourished . Atlanta led the NFL in scoring, averaging 33.8 points per game, and quarterback Matt Ryan was picked as a first-team AP All-Pro on Friday.
Shanahan is eligible to interview this week during the Falcons bye but can’t be hired until after Atlanta’s season is finished.
Shanahan got his first NFL job as an offensive quality control coach in Tampa Bay in 2004. He also served as an offensive coordinator in Houston, Washington and Cleveland before arriving in Atlanta last season.
Paton has 20 years of NFL personnel experience and has turned down interviews for GM openings in the past but decided to meet with the 49ers. He has worked most of his career alongside Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, assisting him in Chicago, Miami and for the past 10 years in Minnesota.
York said the primary goal in the search is finding a coach and general manager who can work well together. The Niners got rid of coach Jim Harbaugh following the 2014 season in part because of conflicts with Baalke. Harbaugh led the team to its only successful stretch of the past 15 years with trips to the NFC title game in his first three seasons from 2011-13 and a Super Bowl appearance.
Jim Tomsula replaced him and was fired after a 5-11 season. York then fired both Baalke and Kelly after this past season.
The Niners became the first team in nearly four decades to fire coaches in successive seasons after only one-year tenures. The only other time that happened since the 1970 merger came when San Francisco fired Monte Clark after the 1976 season and Ken Meyer the following year. The 49ers then fired Pete McCulley midway through the 1978 season and interim coach Fred O’Connor after the year before hiring Bill Walsh to start a dynasty.
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