Coach and GM hir­ings could take a while

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - NFL - By Eric Branch Eric Branch is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: ebranch@sfchron­i­ Twit­ter: @Eric_Branch

Two years ago, the 49ers were with­out a head coach for 16 days be­fore they hired Jim Tom­sula.

Last year, it took 10 days be­fore their search ended with Chip Kelly.

This year? It ap­pears the third time will be the long­est.

Satur­day marks 13 days since the 49ers fired Kelly, and his re­place­ment’s in­tro­duc­tory news con­fer­ence prob­a­bly isn’t im­mi­nent. The 49ers, the NFL’s only team with a head-coach vacancy, have three known re­main­ing can­di­dates and each is em­ployed by a team in the play­offs. That means they can’t hire Pa­tri­ots of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Josh McDaniels, Fal­cons of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Kyle Shana­han or Sea­hawks of­fen­sive line coach Tom Ca­ble, who will in­ter­view Sun­day, un­til the can­di­date’s team is elim­i­nated.

McDaniels and Shana­han are the most likely to land with the 49ers and they are also the most likely to have deep post­sea­son runs. Both the Pa­tri­ots (14-2) and Fal­cons (11-5) earned first-round byes and will host a di­vi­sional play­off game Satur­day: New Eng­land will meet Hous­ton, and At­lanta will play Seat­tle.

De­spite the wait, the 49ers could be in a prime po­si­tion to make a solid hire. McDaniels and Shana­han are well-re­spected of­fen­sive coaches, and the 49ers are now their only op­tion if they want to be a head coach in 2017.

The po­ten­tially pro­longed wait, how­ever, does raise a con­cern: Would the new head coach be able to put to­gether a de­cent staff given the num­ber of as­sis­tant po­si­tions that have al­ready been filled around the league? Af­ter all, five other teams have hired head coaches this week.

For­mer 49ers of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Ted Toll­ner, 76, who spent seven com­bined sea­sons with the 49ers and Raiders dur­ing his 15-year NFL ca­reer, down­played that as a ma­jor is­sue. Toll­ner said can­di­dates typ­i­cally have ver­bal agree­ments in place with other coaches, with the un­der­stand­ing they’ll be on staff if the can­di­date lands a head-coach­ing job.

“My guess is that each of those can­di­dates that are left has at least a par­tial staff put to­gether,” said Toll­ner, the for­mer head coach at USC and San Diego State. “And then there will be some spots where they’ll still be look­ing. I’d be sur­prised if they don’t al­ready have four or five guys in mind. Be­cause it’s a big dis­cus­sion in the in­ter­view process: ‘Who is go­ing to com­ing with you? Who can you get?’ ”

The 49ers, of course, are also in­ter­view­ing can­di­dates for their gen­eral man­ager open­ing and that con­tin­ued Fri­day as they spoke with Car­di­nals vice pres­i­dent of player per­son­nel Terry McDonough. On Mon­day, they are sched­uled to in­ter­view Sea­hawks co-di­rec­tors of player per­son­nel Scott Fit­terer and Trent Kirch­ner, which will mark the last of their known in­ter­views. Fit­terer or Kirch­ner would pre­sum­ably pair with Ca­ble, who has been with Seat­tle since 2011.

The more likely sce­nario is the 49ers hire McDaniels or Shana­han, whose teams could con­ceiv­ably meet in Su­per Bowl LI on Feb. 5.

That would mean the 49ers will have spent more than a month with­out a head coach, but Toll­ner said the wait will be worth it.

“If the pool of assistants that are avail­able are less than what it would have been, that’s bet­ter than hir­ing some­one that you didn’t re­ally want,” Toll­ner said. “... If you’ve got a guy that you’re re­ally ex­cited about and he’s in the play­offs, that’s the most im­por­tant thing. You’ve got to get the right per­son in place.”

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