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Steve Keim’s tree could grow with the loss of McDonough

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Eight people have reportedly been named as candidates for the general manager job in San Francisco. Terry McDonough is interviewing Friday. It’s impossible to know if the Cardinals VP of Player Personnel is a serious candidate.

Is 49ers owner Jed York being influenced by people in the media? There’s a blog on SBNation in San Francisco questioning the timeline of a Gil Brandt tweet supporting McDonough on Monday, a Mike Nolan interview in the Bay Area (KNBR) saying McDonough is the best candidate for the 49ers on Tuesday, and then news is leaked Tuesday night McDonough will be interviewed. It would make perfect sense that York didn’t think about interviewing McDonough and he or staffers came up with the idea to interview McDonough after listening to real football people make the suggestion.

It’s a no-brainer to interview McDonough. Not only is he a good candidate, but San Francisco gets the chance to interview their third person inside the NFC West. It’s a divisional weekend with McDonough on Friday and two different candidates from the Seahawks coming in on Monday — interesting there’s been no announcement of a Rams candidate coming to the 49ers — but that’s beside the point. Even if San Francisco doesn’t go intra-division with their hire, they get a little insight into the workings of their competition. It’s a win-win for the Niners, but a lose-win for Arizona.

No organization gets better if they lose a Terry McDonough. If it happens, you’d like it to happen soon, as in the next seven days. In a week and a half, Arizona and 31 other teams leave for Mobile, Ala., to watch the Senior Bowl. Very few scouts and GMs give much attention to the actual game. Every team executive within football operations cares deeply about the practices leading up to the Senior Bowl. How does a player respond to: Coaching? Success? Failure? Competition? A GM wants his entire staff in place and ready to go before they leave.

In the short term, losing McDonough to the 49ers would be a major loss for Arizona. There is a benefit in the long term, however. Steve Keim would officially have a tree. The hiring of Jason Licht in Tampa Bay from Keim’s staff two years ago gives Keim a branch, not a tree. When both Licht and McDonough become NFL GMs, it shows Keim is excellent at choosing people to work with and helping them earn their own dreams of becoming a GM. Wouldn’t you want to work for someone like that?

Immediately, Steve Keim would be one of the handful of GMs everyone wants to be their employer. Obviously, everyone looking for a job in player personnel wants to be hired by any NFL team. Keim, however, would move up in the eyes of the best assistant GM candidates. The options for the Cardinals improve. Even if Keim hires from within to replace McDonough, the talent pool to replace the promoted would be cream of the crop.

If Jed York truly didn’t know about Terry McDonough before the process, it explains everything you need to know about the San Francisco organization. When Terry McDonough gets a GM job in the NFL, it will tell you everything you need to know about Steve Keim.

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