San Francisco 49ers

How long must we wait? Answering questions about 49ers’ search

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. AP

The 49ers soon may be the last team standing. The Jaguars, Bills, Broncos and Rams all have found new head coaches and the Chargers appear to be closing in on Bills assistant Anthony Lynn as their new guy.

How long will it it take the 49ers to find a match? Who can they hire? What are the rules? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

What’s the next step for the 49ers?

They will interview general manager candidate Terry McDonough of the Cardinals on Friday. On Sunday, they head to Renton, Wash., to talk to Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable. On Monday, they speak with Seattle personnel executives Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, in that order. That’s the last of the known interviews – in the first round, at least.

Who could the 49ers hire – right now – as head coach?

No one. The candidates they’ve interviewed – or wanted to interview – either have been hired (Vance Joseph, Sean McDermott, Sean McVay), are on the cusp of being hired (Lynn) or are still in the playoffs (Josh McDaniels, Kyle Shanahan and Cable). As soon as their teams are out of the playoffs, any of those three can be hired.

Are there more coaching interviews after Cable?

Probably. They could have an interview with a new candidate whose team either is already out of or gets eliminated from the playoffs. They also could have a second interview with McDaniels and/or Shanahan if their teams make it to the Super Bowl. That meeting must take place during the bye week that precedes Super Bowl week.

What are the rules for hiring a general manager?

Roughly the same as head coach. No hiring can be done until the candidate’s team is out of the playoffs – that is, unless the candidate’s current team gives permission. Among the hopefuls the 49ers could hire now: Carolina’s Brandon Beane, Minnesota’s George Paton, Indianapolis’ Jimmy Raye III and ESPN analyst Louis Riddick. McDonough also could be hired quickly after his interview. Teams can have multiple interviews with perspective general manager candidates as long as their current team assents to each.

If the 49ers have to wait, won’t all the good assistant coaches get snapped up?

That presumably has been part of the conversation team CEO Jed York and executive Paraag Marathe have been having with candidates from playoff teams: Who would you hire? How easily could you assemble a staff? If the 49ers have zeroed in on McDaniels like everyone assumes, they had to have known before the search got underway that it could be at least Feb. 6 – the day after the Super Bowl – before they make the hire official. But could something be unofficial? When the Falcons were looking for a new head coach two years ago, news leaked out they settled on then Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn two weeks before the Seahawks played in the Super Bowl. A large chunk of Quinn’s staff also reportedly agreed to terms with the Falcons before the hires were made official.

What about the scouting department? Who would handle something like the Senior Bowl if the 49ers have not yet hired a general manager?

Teams typically retain scouts and personnel officials through the draft. Most of the 49ers’ current scouting staff presumably would handle the Senior Bowl and other college all-star games.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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