For these va­can­cies, those do­ing the hir­ing might drive you nuts

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SPORTING GREEN - ANN KIL­LION

The 49ers’ Blind Squir­rel Tour con­tin­ues. You know the old say­ing: Even a blind squir­rel finds a nut ev­ery once in a while.

And maybe the 49ers will find a qual­ity nut, de­spite the wide­spread trep­i­da­tion over their search process and their hir­ing his­tory.

The prob­lem is they need two qual­ity nuts. A head-coach nut and a gen­eral-man­ager nut (and I’m not be­ing pe­jo­ra­tive; that de­scrip­tion fits most men who fill those po­si­tions in the NFL).

The 49ers’ search has been far-flung, criss­cross­ing the coun­try to in­ter­view head-coach and gen­eral-man­ager can­di­dates. Si­mul­ta­ne­ous and mul­ti­fac­eted, one can’t be sure if it’s thor­ough or hys­ter­i­cal. There will be more in­ter­views next week. Some of the can­di­dates might not be

avail­able un­til Feb. 6, the day af­ter the Su­per Bowl.

The trep­i­da­tion comes be­cause the peo­ple do­ing the hir­ing are the same ones who have done the pre­vi­ous hir­ings. Who seemed, even just a few months ago, to not have learned from their mis­takes. And so there’s lit­tle rea­son to be­lieve Jed York and Paraag Marathe sud­denly have been hit over the head with the wis­dom stick.

Even the leaks com­ing out of the search aren’t trust­wor­thy. They are al­most surely com­ing di­rectly from York, so when some­one “killed it” in an in­ter­view or hit a home run, what can we be­lieve? That those can­di­dates made York and Marathe feel good about them­selves?

And don’t those con­stant leaks turn off can­di­dates who would pre­fer that busi­ness is con­ducted pro­fes­sion­ally, in­stead of by a young CEO who seems needy for the alle­malls gi­ance of some na­tional re­porters?

What we’ve learned since York’s awk­ward third-time-is-not-a-charm news con­fer­ence Jan. 2 is that, though he hinted he would tap into the 49ers’ il­lus­tri­ous past for guid­ance and in­put, he sure doesn’t seem to be do­ing that.

As Steve Young said in an in­ter­view on KNBR last week, “When Ed­die (DeBar­tolo) lost the team, there was tremen­dous ac­ri­mony be­tween the par­ties. And so the past — the 49ers’ past — is gingerly em­braced.” The Hall of Famers and other greats of the past also know that York hasn’t fol­lowed his un­cle’s ad­vice, so they are loath to of­fer theirs.

To me, that’s one of the sad­dest parts of the past two decades: the wasted re­source of the 49ers’ great­ness. Here in the Bay Area, we like to con­serve our nat­u­ral re­sources, and what the 49ers have done with their legacy is tan­ta­mount to build­ing strip in the Golden Gate Na­tional Recre­ation Area. All that wis­dom, all that ex­pe­ri­ence, all those ties to Bill Walsh — gone to waste.

The one time York and Marathe got it right was in 2011, when the team had ap­peared to bot­tom out (Ha! Fooled every­one! Rock bot­tom was a few years in the fu­ture). There was an ob­vi­ous can­di­date about 15 miles up the free­way, who was the front-run­ner from start to fin­ish in the search. There weren’t other se­ri­ous can­di­dates; a few men, in­clud­ing Jim Tom­sula and Hue Jack­son, were in­ter­viewed. The fact that York con­tin­ues to take credit for the Jim Har­baugh hire as though he un­earthed some di­a­mond in the rough is slightly ab­surd.

In­formed opin­ions peg the lead­ing can­di­dates to be New Eng­land of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Josh McDaniels as head coach and Louis Rid­dick as gen­eral man­ager.

There are pluses and mi­nuses to both.

McDaniels was a fail­ure in Den­ver, both as a head coach and in his per­son­nel de­ci­sions. But a lot of coaches fail their first time and have it more fig­ured out by the sec­ond time around: men such as McDaniels’ boss in New Eng­land, Bill Belichick, and like the Raiders’ Jack Del Rio. McDaniels re­port­edly has a prickly per­son­al­ity and was groomed un­der the Belichick cloak of se­crecy. That means he prob­a­bly has the abil­ity to say both “No” and “Hell, no” to York and Marathe and also fight against the cul­ture of leaks. McDaniels is al­most 41, so he’s older than York (un­like Wash­ing­ton’s Sean McVay, whom the 49ers in­ter­viewed but whom the Rams hired Thurs­day).

On the flip side, he’s not bring­ing Tom Brady with him, he drafted Tim Te­bow, he was a fail­ure in Den­ver and he has a rep­u­ta­tion as be­ing a dif­fi­cult per­son whom play­ers couldn’t stand.

Rid­dick is ar­tic­u­late and smart, and would make a good front man for a team that des­per­ately needs one. In that way, he ap­pears to be the an­tiTrent Baalke. Rid­dick is 47, so again, he’s older than York, which is a good thing.

Neg­a­tives: Rid­dick has been in the ESPN stu­dio for four years. If he was a su­per-hot can­di­date, he al­ready would have been hired. How much ex­pe­ri­ence does he have? His for­mer boss, Vinny Cer­rato, went on the ra­dio Wed­nes­day to say that Rid­dick wasn’t a de­ci­sion-maker and also noted that he, Rid­dick’s for­mer em­ployer, hasn’t been con­tacted as a ref­er­ence. Which makes you won­der if the 49ers are do­ing their due dili­gence.

If, as most ex­pect, the Pa­tri­ots make it to an­other Su­per Bowl, McDaniels has a long time to think about the 49ers’ job, its sad his­tory and whether it’s an or­ga­ni­za­tion to which he wants to tie his rep­u­ta­tion (sec­ond chances can be good, but third chances are rare). Are he and Rid­dick a pack­age deal? And what does that mean? Are we go­ing to have an­other dis­cus­sion over who has “the trig­ger,” as we did with Mike Nolan al­most a decade ago?

Next week, the 49ers will in­ter­view more can­di­dates in­clud­ing for­mer Raiders head coach Tom Ca­ble, who punched an as­sis­tant coach and has been ac­cused of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. This is a messy process. There are a lot of ques­tions. The Blind Squir­rel Tour marches on.

Gabrielle Lurie / The Chronicle

Jed York is younger than head-coach­ing can­di­date Josh McDaniels and GM can­di­date Louis Rid­dick — and that could be a point in their fa­vor.

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