The news emerged on Wednesday that two executives who turned down the 49ers — Kansas City’s Chris Ballard and Green Bay’s Eliot Wolfe — will interview for the Colts’ GM opening.
On Day 24 of their organizational search, the question remains: Have the 49ers whittled down their list, or have they have backed themselves into a corner with just two candidates? Minnesota’s George Paton and Arizona’s Terry McDonough will meet this weekend in Atlanta with Kyle Shanahan, Jed York and Paraag Marathe. Hopefully one of the candidates knocks the trio’s socks off.
But what if they don’t? What if there are fundamental disagreements with Shanahan on how to build the roster and culture?
Former 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes joined KNBR 1050’s The Audible and had a suggestion nobody has really thought of as San Francisco’s next GM.
“I tell you a name that hasn’t been floated out there,” Spikes began, “and I’m a throw it out there, just because I know the history of the game. But if you look at Kyle Shanahan and you say, ‘Hey? Is he going to be the next coach?’ For me, I like Scott Pioli, the assistant general manager from the Atlanta Falcons. To me, I think you bring in awesome synergy already. Both guys should understand how each other work. It’s a proven commodity already. And so I think if it was me, or I was one of the advisors, maybe I say, ‘Let’s bring Scott Pioli out here. And let’s interview him.’ Let’s have an opportunity to see what’s his thought process and what is his theory on making San Francisco great again.”
Pioli was the GM of the KansasCity Chiefs from 2009-2012, drafting building blocks such as Eric Berry, Justin Houston, Dontari Poe. The 51-year-old famously helped run operations with the New England Patriots from 2000-2008 and was often referred to as Bill Belichick’s right hand man. ESPN and Sports Illustrated both named him NFL executive of the decade in the 2000s.
Is he too obvious of a choice? Is he happy playing backup point guard to Thomas Dimitroff while winning in Atlanta? Maybe he and Shanahan aren’t the best of friends. Or maybe control of the 53-man roster would be an issue. Pioli also did choose Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel as his coaches, so maybe there was some trepidation there from York. It’s hard to expect instant success in the NFL, though, and some argue he got a raw deal in Kansas City, especially after making the playoffs in 2010.
Spikes said he spoke with York Tuesday in San Jose at the Sport, Activism and Social Change seminar, which was hosted by legends Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Spikes said York deserves credit for one thing he harped on during his Jan. 2 press conference.
“I’m all in for Kyle Shanahan. That’s a great start,” Spikes said. “Jed hit it on the head. He was very transparent and a lot of people may talk about him and say, ‘Aw, we won’t want to hear that.’ But he’s telling the truth. It’s important that the GM and the head coach have a great working relationship. It doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything, but at the end of the day you have to respect whoever is in a authority position and be able to roll with it.”