SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York is preaching patience as the team’s search for a new coach and general manager enters its fourth week.
York fired first-year coach Chip Kelly and longtime general manager Trent Baalke on Jan. 1 after the team matched the worst record in franchise history with a 2-14 mark.
“We have to make sure that we get the right person,” York said Tuesday at an event on the intersection of sport and social change at San Jose State.
York has interviewed six coaching candidates with Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan the only remaining candidate. The Niners will meet again with Shanahan this week but can’t sign him to a contract until after the Falcons play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 against New England.
There have also been nine interviews with potential general managers with Minnesota assistant GM George Paton and Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough expected to get second interviews this week as well.
The five other NFL coach openings have already been filled, including three candidates who interviewed with San Francisco. Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay got hired by the Los Angeles Rams, Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott got the job in Buffalo and Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn took over the Chargers.
Vance Joseph was hired in Denver before he could interview with San Francisco.
Indianapolis is the only other team with a general manager opening.
“The message is we need to re-establish a championship culture and we’re not going to do that by just filling a job quickly, we need to get the right people,” York said. “We need to be patient, we need to be willing to wait, and when we get the right people we’ll start to put everything in place.”
They hope that Shanahan will be that person after overseeing an offense that helped the Falcons make the Super Bowl.
He 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.
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.
York said he was open to hiring either the coach or general manager first. He said the primary goal in the search is finding a coach and general manager who can work well together.
York said it will be up to the new general manager and coach to decide whether quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be back next season. Kaepernick made headlines this past season with his refusal to stand during the national anthem to protest racial oppression and police brutality in the United States.
The 49ers supported Kaepernick in his stance and his teammates gave him the Len Eshmont Award for inspirational and courageous play.
“There are certainly people that didn’t agree with how we handled everything. I understand that,” York said. “There’s no perfect answer for it. I believe in freedom of speech but there are also consequences to freedom of speech. What we need to do is make sure we take it from whatever those negative comments and negative feelings were to, how do we make our community a better place and take some of the wisdom that we just heard from that panel and start instilling it and having collaboration between police officers and the communities they serve. If we can do that, we can have a huge impact in our communities.”
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Jose contributed to this report
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