With three weeks of coaching madness in the books, the carousel seems to be slowing down. Five teams already have their man, and the 49ers are just waiting on theirs to be finished with the playoffs. There remains some intrigue in front offices, however, with the 49ers still unable to land a general manager and the Colts joining the market very late in the process. With all of that upheaval, it is worth taking a look at the coaching searches so far and the organizational structure of every team in the NFC.
The AFC rundown can be found here.
Last Update: 8 p.m. EST 1/23/2017
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San Francisco 49ers
In a lesson on how not to run an organization, the 49ers allowed a middling at best general manager, Trent Baalke, run a great head coach, Jim Harbaugh, out of town and then compounded the mistake by letting that general manager make two more coaching hires. One of those coaches could have been Adam Gase, but Baalke’s ego got in the way. The 49ers ended up with Jim Tomsula that year, and then fired him to get Chip Kelly, who was fired himself shortly after Baalke.
Two one-and-done coaches later, the 49ers found themselves on the market for a completely new organization while owning one of the worst rosters in football, which was not an enviable position for one of the most decorated franchises in NFL history. Still, they may have ended up getting the best coach of the bunch after it was all said and done.
With Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and Seahawks assistant head coach/OL coach Tom Cable out of the running, the 49ers are locked into Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan as their next head coach. The hire has not been finalized as the Falcons are headed to the Super Bowl, but it would be a shock if Shanahan is not coaching in San Francisco next season. In this instance, biding time seems to have served the 49ers well, but that might not be the case at general manager.
Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf, Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst, and Seahawks co-director of player personnel Trent Kirchner have all removed their names from consideration for the general manager job. Normally that would mean the 49ers are close to naming someone, but are not any strong candidates left on the list, and the Colts are now in the market after firing their general manager.
Vikings assistant GM George Paton was called back for a second interview and could be the favorite, but Pro Football Talk believes Falcons director of football operations Nick Polk could get involved. Shanahan is expected to have some say in the final decision if he hasn't already, which could be good news for Polk.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams became the first organization to start their coaching search when they made the long-overdue decision to fire Jeff Fisher in early December. Fisher is the picture of mediocrity, a human excuse machine, and reportedly did not get along with GM Les Snead, who seems to have won out in the end as he will stay on as general manager.
The Rams cast a wide net in their coaching search and ultimately ended up with former Redskins OC Sean McVay. A massive departure from Fisher, McVay is a 30-year-old offensive wiz who did great work with Kirk Cousins in Washington. His hiring certainly had a lot to do with the development of Jared Goff, and it is likely McVay will have a positive impact on the 2016 No. 1 pick. That said, the track record of extremely young coaches is mixed at best. This is a home-run swing by the Rams, but it is a hack they likely needed to take.
The good news is McVay will have some quality coaching experience to draw from on his staff after the Rams nabbed former Broncos DC Wade Phillips to run their defense. Phillips is perhaps the best coordinator in the league, and the former head coach's ability to help out the rookie McVay is an added bonus. Traditionally a 3-4 guy, Phillips might have to fit some square pegs in round holes early on, but every scheme is a nickel base these days anyway.
Former Bears OC Aaron Kromer is the only real candidate for offensive coordinator to emerge, but McVay is expected to call the plays anyway.
GM Les Snead: It was not a given he would return, but being in the room for the coaching interviews suggested he had a good shot
HC Sean McVay: You maybe have heard he is the youngest head coach in NFL history
DC Wade Phillips: Perhaps the best coordinator in the league and an experienced coach for McVay to work with
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are among the most stable franchises in the league, but there are rumors the front office could experience a shake-up with long-time general manager Ted Thompson stepping aside to allow up-and-coming director of football operations Eliot Wolf to take over the reins. The move would be an effort to keep Wolf, who was a strong candidate with the 49ers and is certain to get a general manager job somewhere in the near future, although he did just sign a new contract. There also have been rumors coach Mike McCarthy is "fed up" with Thompson’s almost neurotic refusal to bolster the roster through free agency, although he loosened those constraints somewhat last offseason. All of those factors make this rumor one worth considering, but it is still just a rumor at this point, one made less viable by Wolf's decision to sign a new contract.
GM Ted Thompson: Stay tuned
HC Mike McCarthy: Great quarterback play can mask a lot of ills including an offensive coach either unwilling or unable to adjust
OC Edgar Bennett: McCarthy calls the plays, but Bennett is a quality coach who should get a look from teams in need of a head coach at some point
DC Dom Capers: An annual scapegoat, he did a fine job keeping the defense competitive under a mountain of injuries
Kyle Shanahan is not gone yet, but it is basically a slam dunk he lands the 49ers job. It would be a major upset if he was not coaching in San Francisco next season.
When Shanahan leaves, ESPN's Britt McHenry reports there is a "strong possibility" offensive assistant Mike McDaniel will take over the job. McDaniel has been with Shanahan since he joined the Redskins in 2011, so the hiring would likely be a continuity decision after Matt Ryan had a career year in the current system.
However, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports Chip Kelly will get a look once Shanahan moves on. Kelly was a strong candidate for the Jaguars' coordinator job and reportedly will meet with the Patriots about a position. Kelly would be a risky hire after the Falcons had so much success with Shanahan, but it is at least possible he is much more successful focusing on just the offensive side of the ball than he was as a head coach.
GM Thomas Dimitroff: With the help of Scott Pioli, Dimitroff has put together several quality drafts in a row and made one of the best low-key moves of free agency by signing Alex Mack
HC Dan Quinn: After last season’s collapse, he likely needed to finish the job this season in order to keep his, and that is exactly what he did
OC Kyle Shanahan: Stay tuned
DC Richard Smith: It is unclear how big of a role he has with Quinn almost certainly heavily involved
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Dave Gettleman made some noise about the offense in his post-season press conference, but Mike Shula is almost certainly safe. Sean McDermott was never going to be fired, either, but he did finally land a head coaching job, taking over for Rex Ryan in Buffalo.
The Panthers were understandably prepared for McDermott to leave, and they immediately promoted secondary and assistant head coach Steve Wilks to the coordinator job. The in-house replacement should mean continuity for what has been one of the most consistent defenses in the league year to year.
GM Dave Gettleman: May have misjudged Josh Norman’s value and needs to do better on the offensive line, but remains one of the best in the business
HC Ron Rivera: Let-down years have become a concerning trend, but at least next year should be one of the rebound efforts
OC Mike Shula: Offense looked out of sorts most of the year and Cam Newton had a down season, so he needs to find some answers this offseason
DC Steve Wilks: Has been with Rivera for over a decade and with the Panthers for five seasons
Sean McVay was a hot name this cycle, and he ended up landing a lead job with the Rams. With McVay gone, the Redskins promoted from within, tabbing QB coach Matt Cavanaugh as the new offensive coordinator. Cavanaugh has not coordinated an offense since 2004 in Baltimore, so Jay Gruden should take on a big role and play-calling duties again.
In a move that was not at all a surprise, Joe Barry and all of his defensive staff including former Giants DC Perry Fewell were fired the Thursday following Week 17. A large contingent of the fan base had been clamoring for him to be dismissed, and the results back up that sentiment. Despite more talent this year in the secondary, Barry’s defense finished 28th in total defense and 19th in points allowed. For an organization which should be looking to make the next step, it was time to try something new on defense.
After interviewing a disappointing list outside of former Jaguars coach and new Chargers DC Gus Bradley for the position, Washington settled on former OLBs coach Greg Manusky to run the defense. Manusky has nine years of experience as an NFL coordinator, but all of his units have been middling at best, and it was even worse than that during his four years with the Colts. He is an uninspiring hire.
GM Scot McCloughan: Josh Norman fell into his lap, but there remain big holes to fill on defense, especially in the front seven
HC Jay Gruden: The collapse with a playoff berth in reach is a red flag, but his offense is one of the best schemed in the league
OC Matt Cavanaugh: Has not coordinated an offense since 2004 with the Ravens
DC Greg Manusky: Has coached a top-12 defense once in nine years but a top-20 unit in six, basically the definition of mediocre