SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - The San Francisco 49ers’ cross-country coach and general manager search landed in New England on Saturday where the team interviewed Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels for the head coach’s job.
Team CEO Jed York has been meeting with candidates for both jobs all week 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.
McDaniels is the first coach to be interviewed who has full-time experience at the job. In between stints as coordinator in New England under Bill Belichick, McDaniels was head coach in Denver in 2000-10. He won his first six games before finishing 8-8 his first season and was fired with a 3-9 record in his second year.
He spent the 2011 season as offensive coordinator in St. Louis before returning to the Patriots during the 2011 playoffs and replacing Bill O’Brien as coordinator in 2012.
In eight seasons as offensive coordinator for the Patriots, McDaniels has guided the team to six top-10 rankings in total offense, including No. 1 marks in 2007 and ‘12. While most of that success came with Tom Brady at quarterback, McDaniels did help New England finish 11-5 in 2008 after Matt Cassel took over at QB when Brady had a season-ending knee injury in the opener.
McDaniels joined the Patriots in 2001 and has been part of four Super Bowl champions in New England.
McDaniels will be a highly sought coaching candidate this offseason, with Jacksonville and Los Angeles among the other teams interested in him.
The 49ers previously interviewed Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on Friday and Buffalo interim coach Anthony Lynn on Wednesday for the coach’s opening.
York said he was open to hiring either the coach or general manager first.
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.
York has met with three candidates for the general manager’s job: Minnesota assistant GM George Paton, Green Bay director of football operations Eliot Wolf, and Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst.
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