NFL

Josh McDaniels stays in New England … we all see where this is going, right?

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels effectively said on a conference call this morning that he’d rather work with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady than tackle the 49ers’ quagmire.

“I was really impressed with Jed York and Paraag [Marathe], and Brian, and people that came for the 49ers organization. They did a great job with their presentation. Again, humbled to be included in that process. At this time, it’s just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England, and focus on this year’s playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out.”

Everyone is making a big deal about this Brian character. His last name is Hampton, and he’s their director of football administration and analytics. Is he as good at leaking to national reporters as Jedraag? Talk about a high bar to clear.

The real story here is this: McDaniels said “no” for a reason. Jedraag advocates say it’s because he’s playing the PR game and bowing out gracefully after finding out that they’re going to hire Shanahan. I think that’s far-fetched, because how would McDaniels know how close Shanahan and the 49ers are to an agreement? If they hit a snag over the next week or four, couldn’t McDaniels wait it out and pounce if the 49ers offer him the only open head coaching position?

I think it’s pretty clear, with Pats personnel director Nick Caserio not even agreeing to interview with the 49ers, that Jedraag’s rep around the league still stinks. Maybe giving Chip Kelly — one of Bill Belichick’s buddies — the ol’ one-and-done treatment wasn’t the best idea. Perhaps trashing Trent Baalke on his way out was a poor decision as well.

Coaches with options want to know they’ll be treated well. The 49ers’ resume speaks for itself.

  • Jim Harbaugh: shoved aside after a year of leaks and infighting
  • Jim Tomsula: hired cheaply and fired after one year coaching a crappy roster
  • Chip Kelly: third 49ers head coach in three years to know he was coaching his last game before the game even began (after one year with an even crappier roster)

And this leaves the 49ers with two choices, even though they’re actually free to choose from any number of NFL assistants, former NFL head coaches, or current college head coaches. But unless there’s a surprise in store, it’s between Kyle Shanahan and Tom Cable.

Let’s explore the choices, shall we?

In this corner, we have a 37-year-old rising star who helped Matt Ryan change his image. Ryan used to be the guy who was famous for frustrating Falcons fans and looking like a NASCAR driver. Now he’s the MVP favorite, and his team is a 4-point favorite to win the NFC Championship Game.

Shanahan has no known blemishes, and he probably knows just how to play this because his father was in the same position (up-and-coming offensive mind who’ll have no trouble finding a head coaching gig at some point in the next 12 months) years ago. Shanahan the Younger won’t (and shouldn’t) take just any old offer. It’s got to be the right offer, an offer that includes financial security and several other parameters reserved for the top coaches.

Tim Ryan, who gets to watch practices and is fairly well-connected, thought McDaniels would be the choice. With McDaniels out of the picture, Shanahan can play the leverage game. He can ask for $7 million+ per year. He can ask for personnel control. He can dictate terms for Levi’s Stadium, like replacing its shoddy sod with divot-free field turf that would more closely approximate the playing surface in Atlanta. He can ask for backstage passes to the upcoming U2 concert. He can sit behind the wheel of Grave Digger during Monster Jam … ok, you get the idea.

In the other corner, we have a 52-year-old who was just knocked out of the playoffs (if the 49ers get antsy about this search, they can wrap him up in a bow by tomorrow if they wish). He’s the assistant head coach to Pete Carroll. He’s also an offensive line coach who in recent years has made his name cobbling together not-completely awful o-lines, despite his team’s approach to the salary cap (spend on stars, don’t spend on tackles, guards and centers).

Oops, my mistake. He actually made his name with a rocky run in Oakland, during which a guy’s jaw somehow got broken and two women accused him of domestic assault. But don’t worry, Tommy Cable is “a good man.”

Cable cannot name his price. Unlike Shanahan, a promotion isn’t guaranteed. An enormous raise isn’t guaranteed. Shanahan can ask for Andy Reid money. Cable would have to settle for Jim Tomsula money.

If Jedraag can land Shanahan, perhaps by scoring points (and eventually hiring) Terry McDonough as GM (McDonough has reportedly wanted Shanahan as his head coach “from the beginning”), then it will mean three fantastic things for the 49ers.

  • Jedraag was willing to spend.
  • Jedraag was willing to cede some power.
  • Jedraag was able to convince one of the top candidates in the business to join them.

Ray Ratto made fun of me for saying this, but I’ll congratulate them if they land Shanahan, who I endorsed weeks ago. Hey, I’m grading on a Yorkian curve here. From what I’ve gleaned through watching this family operate for nearly two decades, I’m expecting them to balk at Shanahan’s demands, go with the guy who needs their help and won’t cost nearly as much, and pretend he was their first choice all along.

In other words, Tom Cable is equal parts Tomsula and Kelly, except he’s more of a violent disciplinarian. He’s the law and order candidate who would make the 49ers great again … according to Jedraag, if the 49ers end up hiring him, that is.

I’m expecting Jedraag’s advocates to say how they didn’t want Shanahan in the first place — “The Falcons are stacked! The 49ers don’t have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones! — and how the true bounty in all of this was landing a Seahawks personnel guy (Trent Kirchner or Scott Fitterer) to put together the roster Cable will coach.

“Jed and Paraag just kneecapped their biggest rival! BRILLIANT!”

I’m not wishing for disaster. I’d much rather watch an interesting team with a fun offense. It’s no fun when the only local team that’s guaranteed to stay in the region is the football version of Tylenol PM, only without the painkilling properties.

But I’m not going to place anything approaching faith in Jedraag, who decided at the beginning that they were going to go about this all wrong anyway.

They should have hired a GM first. The depressing suckitude of the roster is the franchise’s biggest problem — yes, even more than the leaks and overall toxicity of the front office. Then, instead of acting like they know all the answers and can arrange a marriage between two ego-driven type-A personalities, they should have empowered the new GM to pick his own head coach, without input from Jed York, Paraag Marathe, Brian Hampton, Al Guido or Sourdough Sam.

Fans, as many of us have said all along, are just hoping for blind luck. Well, one possible purveyor of luck just said he wants to stay in New England. That means chances for failure just rose. Maybe Jedraag can luck their way into a great solution, but expecting that kind of luck would be foolish at this point.

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