New team president on horizon for 49ers?

The exact title and role of the position has not yet been determined, but it looks as if the spot will actually exist. Team owner John York appears as if he will stand by his word to give 49ers coach Mike Nolan all the resources he requests to make the organization competitive again. Nolan has wanted to add a "football person" to the 49ers' front office, and it appears as if he has gotten his wish from York, who has been a tough sell.

Nolan and York have interviewed Seahawks vice president/football administration Mike Reinfeldt and Falcons executive vice president/chief administrative officer Ray Anderson in recent weeks for a position expected to be "team president" on the administrative side.

The role of the new hire is not clearly identified, but it would likely be someone to take over as the team's chief negotiator and support Nolan and vice president of player personnel Scot McCloughan in other matters away from the football field.

Nolan has made it clear that the new person to join an organization would not minimize the role of McCloughan. Nolan and McCloughan will remain as the sole decision makers when it comes to football matters, Nolan said.

"As far as making us better, I want to continue to bring football people into the organization," Nolan said.

One of the knocks is that the 49ers do not have enough "football people" in the front office other than Nolan and McCloughan.

Director of football operations Paraag Marathe, a 28-year-old MBA from Stanford, is a favorite of York's, but his track record as a negotiator has come under scrutiny for some questionable deals the 49ers have struck in recent years.

While Nolan is certain of the kind of person he wants for the new front-office role, it's obvious that York has resisted making any changes to the management structure he installed after firing coach Dennis Erickson and general manager Terry Donahue in January 2005. Upon hiring Nolan, York promised that he would do anything necessary to get the 49ers back among the most successful teams in the NFL.

While it might seem odd that the 49ers have been interviewing candidates while refusing to acknowledge there is an opening, Nolan said the specific role has yet to be determined.

"Some of the discussions are to solidify what it is we need as well," Nolan said. "Some of it has been vague. It might have been clear to me, but we want to bring clarity to what we're looking for from everyone else."

Reinfeldt is considered the front-runner for the position, but the 49ers would have to wait until after the Super Bowl to hire him. They conducted their interview with him during the one-week window when the Seahawks had their first-round bye in the playoffs.


--- Nolan is excited about the access he received to the 50 seniors on his South squad at the Senior Bowl, as well as the 50 players on the North team.

"We target players going to the Combine, and this will put us one leg up in the evaluation process when we go to the Combine," Nolan said. "Everything about being here gives us a little advantage. There are a lot of assumptions that go into evaluations: How bright is he? Is he a good football player? Does he understand football? Does he study and do the extra things necessary to be good? When you don't coach game, you're going off somebody else's recommendation."

--- Running back Frank Gore, who needs major surgery on both shoulders this offseason, had one of the procedures performed last week. He has a four-week window for the other to be surgically repaired. The surgeries will require a five-month rehabilitation. He is expected to take part in some of the team's offseason training program.

--- Tight end Eric Johnson has a $1.25 million salary for next season, which is a lot to pay a person who has missed 36 games the last four seasons due to injuries. But Nolan said that Johnson figures in the team's plans for 2006.

Part of the reason Nolan is willing to give Johnson another try is because he made it clear when the two met after the final game of the season that he would do everything in his power to work with strength and conditioning coordinator Johnny Parker to be ready. When Johnson was healthy in 2004 (he missed two starts with cracked ribs), he caught a team-leading 82 passes for 825 yards, a franchise record for a tight end.

--- Receiver Derrick Hamilton, who missed all of last season after sustaining an offseason ACL tear in his left knee, had minor "clean-up work" done recently, Nolan said. Hamilton is expected to be ready for the team's first minicamp in early May.

--- Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval certainly won't be getting any special perks at 49ers games for a while. Sandoval introduced a resolution at a Board of Supervisors meeting Jan. 17 in which he recommended the City and County of San Francisco adopt the Seahawks as its official football team for the duration of the 2006 playoffs.

Sandoval spells out his reasons for turning his support to one of the 49ers' rivals in the NFC West: the 49ers have not had a winning season since 2002, and the many bars and restaurants in San Francisco lose money because the 49ers failed to make the playoffs again.

Furthermore, Seattle coach Mike Holmgren was San Francisco Prep Athlete of the Year for 1965 while attending Lincoln High. Holmgren later started his coaching career at Lincoln High.

A vote was tabled until after the Super Bowl, at which point it would be a moot point.

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