There is a lot of questioning and guessing about which Minnesota Vikings players from 2016 will be back in 2017. For the most part, all of that discussion appears to center on what players will be coming and going from the roster.
However, the first big move of the offseason may well be coming from the front office.
NFL Network reported Friday that it appears Vikings Assistant General Manager George Paton has emerged as the frontrunner to get the vacant San Francisco general manager position.
The 49ers had a short list of candidates for the position, but one key name pulled himself out of consideration – Packers executive Brian Gutekinst. Of the people interviewed for the position, the two that remain are Paton and Arizona Vice President of Player Personnel Terry McDonough and Paton is viewed as having the inside track for the position.
Paton has been working side by side with Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman for years – joining Spielman in Miami, Chicago and Minnesota. The 49ers are the last team with a head coaching and G.M. vacancy that has yet to fill the positions.
It is expected that Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is going to accept the head coaching position and the 49ers want to have a shared vision between their head coach and general manager. Paton is expected to meet next week with Shanahan, who will either be coaching the Falcons in the Super Bowl or will be available if the Packers defeat Atlanta Sunday.
Paton has been a key component to the Vikings building from within through the draft in recent years, as the Vikings have made a habit of trading into the first round and getting players with the capability of adding the fifth-year option.
From the sounds of things, all that remains is for Paton and Shanahan to meet with the Niners organizational leaders. If the two appear to be of similar vision, Paton has emerged as the prime candidate to get the job.
The Vikings would like to keep Paton, but, as many organizations that have enjoyed success can attest, other organizations tend to cherry pick those individuals who have contributed to that success and the tandem of Spielman and Paton are acknowledged around the league as being the architects of the Vikings youth movement.
An announcement could come early next week.