Five of the six head coaching jobs have been filled, as Bernd covered this morning, which points to New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia returning to the organization for 2017. This is great because it allows linebacker coach Brian Flores to develop for another year or two before ascending to the top defensive job.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is still in the running for the last vacancy with the San Francisco 49ers, and he appears to be one of three candidates, alongside Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable. All three coaches are still in the playoffs and unable to be hired just yet. Each coaching candidate comes with a general manager candidate or two.
McDaniels is connected to former Philadelphia and Washington director of pro personnel- and former Cleveland Browns safety under then-coach Bill Belichick- Louis Riddick, and Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf; Wolf is the second-in-command in Green Bay (previously held the same title as Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio) and also the son of Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf.
Shanahan is linked to son of famed Globe reporter Will McDonough and current Cardinals vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough. Cable is linked to a pair of Seahawks executives.
The 49ers are comfortable waiting until their ideal candidate is available, while the other five teams rushed to sign a head coach as quickly as possible. It is fair to wonder if San Francisco would move on to Shanahan or Cable if their teams are eliminated from the playoffs before McDaniels and the Patriots. Shanahan and Cable will face one another in the Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs.
McDaniels is considered the heavy favorite for the 49ers job, but things can change. MMQB’s Peter King believes that McDaniels will stay with the Patriots and that he was mostly interested in the Jaguars job. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that McDaniels was the 2nd place option in Jacksonville.
Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio was advised to stay away from the 49ers job; and after friend-of-Bill-Belichick Chip Kelly was unceremoniously released after one season in San Francisco, don’t you think Belichick could be telling McDaniels to stay away, too?
Then there’s the added factor of McDaniels not getting to make the pick at general manager. The 49ers plan on hiring a general manager before hiring a head coach, and are interviewing additional executives might not mesh well with McDaniels.
While Wolf should be the clubhouse leader for the general manager position, he is considered to be next-in-line for the Packers and could take over the team in the near future. Look no further than the Patriots and Nick Caserio (and the Ravens and Eric DeCosta) for second-in-commands that are willing to pass over a general manager job to stay with their franchise.
And if Wolf isn’t hired, then there’s a real chance that a different general manager gets the offer and McDaniels will return to New England in 2017.