Agent: GM McCloughan still with 49ers – for now
AP Sports Writer
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) – The agent for San Francisco 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan said Thursday night his client is still employed by the team – for now, anyway.
Peter Schaffer, McCloughan’s representative, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that he has “not heard any different” regarding McCloughan’s job status amid speculation he’s on his way out. The 49ers have been mum on the situation.
Niners spokesman Bob Lange told The AP by phone Thursday that he could not discuss McCloughan’s status or future with the team and gave no indication a formal announcement was imminent.
Several reports Thursday said the Niners are cutting ties with McCloughan because of personal issues. Schaffer would not discuss anything regarding McCloughan’s situation unrelated to his employment status.
“I don’t control those reports,” Schaffer said. “Every employer has every right to terminate an employee. Those are the rules. … He has not resigned and he has no plans to resign.”
AOL FanHouse reported that the move is based on a personal matter not related to team issues.
ESPN, citing anonymous sources, reported later Thursday that the 49ers are giving McCloughan an extended leave of absence and also referred to him dealing with personal issues.
McCloughan told FanHouse via text message, “I’m fine and moving forward.” The Fanhouse report said he would not elaborate.
If McCloughan departs, the timing is highly unusual for the 49ers’ top personnel executive since 2005. San Francisco has two picks in the first round of the draft, which is just five weeks away.
FanHouse’s report, which cited unnamed sources, said the decision was by mutual agreement and followed a meeting Wednesday between McCloughan, team president and CEO Jed York and several members of the 49ers’ front office.
E-mails to McCloughan and York weren’t returned.
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat first reported late Wednesday that McCloughan was considering stepping down as 49ers GM.
In January, York assumed the new role of chief executive officer in a reorganization of the team’s front office and business department. In addition, Andy Dolich left the team as chief operating officer but was to remain a senior adviser to York during the transition.
The 49ers hired McCloughan in February 2005 to supervise their personnel department for Mike Nolan, a career assistant coach who was improbably given total control of the club’s football operations by owner John York, Jed’s father and the brother-in-law of former owner Eddie DeBartolo.
McCloughan is a former minor-league baseball player who became a respected young personnel executive during stints with Green Bay and Seattle. He has a mostly solid record during his years with the 49ers, compiling a young talent base that has steadily improved for most of his tenure – yet the 49ers still haven’t reached the playoffs in five seasons since his arrival, with an 8-8 record last season that was their best since 2002.
McCloughan was hired as general manager in January 2008 when the 49ers nominally gave him authority over Nolan instead of firing the coach after the 49ers’ third straight losing season. Nolan lasted just seven more games, with Jed York abruptly replacing him with Mike Singletary during the 2008 season.
The 49ers were similarly mysterious about Nolan’s departure, waiting several hours to acknowledge it – well after Nolan already had told reporters he was out.
The 49ers have several in-house candidates to assume McCloughan’s responsibilities, including director of player personnel Trent Baalke, director of pro personnel Tom Gamble, and Paraag Marathe, the 49ers’ executive vice president of football and business operations. Baalke was promoted to his job in February 2008 after a stint as a scout, while Gamble has been with the 49ers since McCloughan arrived.
McCloughan’s departure also is likely to mean a bigger role in football operations for Jed York, who has eagerly taken control of the franchise from his much-criticized father over the past two years. The 49ers selected the then-27-year-old York their team president in late December 2008, and he assumed the additional title of chief executive officer two months ago.
If Jed York gives greater responsibility to Singletary in the 49ers’ personnel decisions, it will be an even bigger risk than his father took with Nolan. Singletary, the Hall of Fame linebacker, only became an assistant coach in 2003 after a post-football career as a motivational speaker and author. Like Nolan, he has no background in player evaluation or salary-cap management.
McCloughan had the final say on the 49ers’ last two drafts, but Singletary told reporters at the NFL scouting combine last month the club would make its draft-day decisions according to players’ rankings on an overall draft board, not on the gut feelings of any team executives.
AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham contributed to this story.