One day after Green Bay Packers executive Eliot Wolf pulled out of the 49ers’ general manager search, his colleague, Brian Gutekunst, did the same, according to multiple national reports.
Gutekunst’s withdrawal is more remarkable because he was believed to be the leader to replace ousted Trent Baalke. The news leaves the 49ers with just one known finalist, Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager George Paton, although others could be considered.
That includes Arizona Cardinals executive Terry McDonough, who interviewed with the 49ers earlier this month, and Jacksonville Jaguars director of player personnel Chris Polian, who has not interviewed with the team but has drawn interest. Polian is the son of long-time NFL general manager Bill Polian. Chris Polian joined the Jaguars in 2013 after spending three seasons as vice president and general manager for the Indianapolis Colts.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that, like Wolf, Gutekunst was given a raise to remain in Green Bay.
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The loss of candidates may be in reaction to the power the 49ers are expected to grant presumed new head coach Kyle Shanahan. The 37-year-old Falcons offensive coordinator is rumored to be getting full control of San Francisco’s 53-man roster, which is rare for a first-time head coach.
Another general manager candidate, Seattle’s Trent Kirchner, pulled out earlier in the week, although that may have been due to a sense that the head-coach candidate to which he was tied, Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable, was not going to get the job.
If the Falcons beat the Packers on Sunday, the 49ers are expected to have a second interview with Shanahan – perhaps in conjunction with interviews with general manager candidates – in Atlanta. Should the Packers win, those interviews could take place in Mobile, Ala., where the Senior Bowl is being conducted.