NFL

49ers interview Minnesota's George Paton for GM opening

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) The San Francisco 49ers have interviewed Minnesota Vikings assistant general manager George Paton for the team's GM opening.

The interview on Friday came a day after CEO Jed York met with Green Bay director of football operations Eliot Wolf and Packers director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst about filling the void created when Trent Baalke was fired Sunday following a 2-14 season.

San Francisco is also conducting a coaching search at the same time and interviewed Buffalo Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn for that job on Wednesday. York said he was open to hiring either the coach or general manager first.

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Paton has 20 years of NFL personnel experience and has turned down interviews for GM openings in the past but decided to meet with the 49ers. He has worked most of his career alongside Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, assisting him in Chicago, Miami and for the past 10 years in Minnesota.

York said the primary goal in the search is finding a coach and general manager who can work well together. The Niners got rid of coach Jim Harbaugh following the 2014 season in part because of conflicts with Baalke. Harbaugh led the team to its only successful stretch of the past 15 years with trips to the NFC title game in his first three seasons from 2011-13 and a Super Bowl appearance.

Jim Tomsula replaced him and was fired after a 5-11 season. York then fired both Baalke and coach Chip Kelly after this past season.

The Niners became the first team in nearly four decades to fire coaches in successive seasons after only one-year tenures. The only other time that happened since the 1970 merger came when San Francisco fired Monte Clark after the 1976 season and Ken Meyer the following year. The 49ers then fired Pete McCulley midway through the 1978 season and interim coach Fred O'Connor after the year before hiring Bill Walsh to start a dynasty.

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