Grant Cohn: Eliot Wolf is the right choice for 49ers GM job

Stop stalling, Jed. Hire Eliot Wolf. Now.

Wolf is the no-brainer choice for the 49ers GM job. He comes from a first-class organization — the Packers. And, he's the son of maybe the greatest general manager ever — Ron Wolf. All of the father's protégés are excellent. Hiring one to run a team in 2017 is equivalent to hiring a Bill-Walsh's protégé to coach a team in 1992. You can't miss.

Don't miss, Jed.

According to Mike Silver of, York may hit the bull's-eye. On Monday, Silver tweeted that Wolf is a leading contender for the 49ers GM job along with Brian Gutekunst — another member of the Packers' front office.

This is good news, 49ers fans. Either Gutekunst or Wolf would be a fine hire, although Wolf would be better. He's the rising star in the Packers organization. He's the prodigy. He's the one who's been helping Green Bay draft players since he was 11.

I assume York will hire Wolf soon. I assume York won't blow it this time. So for the next few days, I'm coming out with a four-part series explaining how Wolf might begin to rebuild the 49ers. This is Part 1.


When Ron Wolf took over the Packers in 1992, he needed someone who could develop the quarterback he was about to trade for — 22-year-old Brett Favre. So, Wolf hired the best offensive-minded coach he could get — 43-year-old Mike Holmgren. Bill Walsh's quarterbacks coach and George Seifert's offensive coordinator.

Call this is Eliot Wolf's template.

Eliot is in a similar situation as his father was 25 years ago. Eliot needs a franchise quarterback as well as someone to groom him. An offensive coordinator who's ready to be head coach.

The obvious choice is Kyle Shanahan, son of Mike Shanahan, who became the 49ers' offensive coordinator after Holmgren went to the Packers. That makes Kyle Shanahan a 49ers descendant. Plus he runs a West Coast Offense. And he's brilliant at grooming quarterbacks. He's a perfect fit.

But there's a problem: He's perfect for every team that needs a head coach. He's the best offensive coordinator in the NFL. And he has interviewed with four of the six teams that have head-coaching vacancies this offseason. He can pick his destination.

He could pick the Rams, who have a fabulous defensive line, a terrific young running back in Todd Gurley and an extremely talented young quarterback in Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft. Shanahan could make him great.

Wolf probably should find someone else.

The obvious second choice is Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator for the Patriots. He seems attainable. According to reports, he wants the 49ers job. Sees the team as a blank slate he can remake to his liking.

Wolf should be careful with him. McDaniels thinks he can build and coach a team all by himself. Thinks he can spot talent.

The first thing McDaniels did in Denver was try to trade Jay Cutler for Matt Cassel. That trade didn't go through, but the offer became public and Cutler wasn't happy. Right away, McDaniels alienated his starting quarterback.

So, McDaniels had to trade Cutler. Had no choice. He traded him to the Bears for Kyle Orton and draft picks. Bad trade. Then, McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow to be the franchise quarterback. Bad pick. McDaniels really thought Tebow would be great.

If Wolf were to hire McDaniels, those two probably would clash, similar to how Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly clashed last year. That's the exact situation the 49ers must avoid. They need their GM and head coach to work together and not undercut each other.

Wolf probably should find someone else.

And, there is someone else. A sleeper. His name is Sean McVay.

You probably recognize that last name. He is the grandson of John McVay, the 49ers' GM who worked with Bill Walsh. Sean is another 49ers descendant.

And he's the offensive coordinator for the Redskins, whose offense ranked third this season. And he's the coach who groomed Kirk Cousins, who became one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL under McVay's guidance.

McVay has everything Wolf would look for. The only issue is McVay's age — he's 30, which is young for a head coach. But Wolf is 34. How could he discriminate against youth? These two are an ideal match.

And they're connected through someone you know. Former 49ers GM Scot McCloughan.

McCloughan got his start in the NFL with the Packers as a regional scout under Ron Wolf. So, that's how McCloughan knows Eliot Wolf. And now, McCloughahn is the GM for the Redskins. So, that's how he knows Sean McVay. McCloughan could facilitate this marriage. Call him the minister.

Wolf and McVay are a realistic tandem for the 49ers. Stay tuned for Part 2, where I explain a realistic quarterback those two might want.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the 'Inside the 49ers' blog for The Press Democrat's website. You can reach him at

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