49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

March 21, 2010
Why the Niners remain mum

It's now been four days since the 49ers' front office was turned upside down and yet the 49ers still haven't uttered a single word about the situation. What is going on at 4949 Centennial Drive? Why do team officials remain mum? Here's what's happening: They won't say anything until general manager Scot McCloughan's departure becomes official. And right now both he and the organization are in a state of limbo.

The two sides are engaged in a multi-million-dollar game of chicken. McCloughan is in the middle of a five-year contract that pays him roughly $1.25 million a year. If McCloughan were to resign, the 49ers wouldn't have to pay him. The 49ers believe McCloughan will do so because the "personal reasons" that have been cited in conjunction to his estrangement would be embarrassing to him. McCloughan, however, is holding his ground, an indication that he doesn't feel the reasons for his ouster are as damaging as the 49ers believe them to be.

If the 49ers fire McCloughan, they'll owe him the remainder of his contract. To avoid paying him, they would have to prove he was fired "for cause," which potentially means the issue could end up in a court room. The Browns recently went down that path when they dismissed general manager George Kokinis in November. A month later, Kokinis, seeking the balance of his contract, filed for arbitration. The two sides reached an out-of-court settlement in February, which is where the 49ers' issue seems headed.

Meanwhile, McCloughan appears to have several potential landing spots. As Greg Bedard in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel noted, McCloughan's first scouting job was with the Green Bay Packers, and he has a close relationship with Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Perhaps an even better fit, as Bay Area News Group's Jerry McDonald pointed out, would be Oakland where McCloughan's father, Kent, once played and worked as a scout. Al Davis has been wanting to bolster his personnel department for years and McCloughan would be able to remain in the Bay Area to be with his family. Miami is another possibility. McCloughan's mentor, Ron Wolf, is close to Bill Parcells, and McCloughan was rumored to be a candidate for a general manager's job there in 2007. The Dolphins hired Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator in January, and the Nolan-McCloughan relationship would have to be considered.

-- Matt Barrows

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MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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