San Francisco 49ers president and CEO Jed York began his search for a general manager by interviewing Tony Softli and says he will be talking to candidates the rest of the week.
York confirmed to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area that he met Tuesday with Softli, a former personnel executive with the Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams, and said he was "going to have in-person or phone interviews through Sunday" with other candidates.
NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora said Tuesday on NFL Network's "Around the League" that candidates include CBS analyst Charley Casserly, formerly general manager of the Washington Redskins and Houston Texans; San Diego Chargers senior executive Randy Mueller, a former GM of the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints; New England Patriots senior football adviser Floyd Reese, formerly the Tennessee Titans' GM; and former Denver Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist.
York said Trent Baalke also is a candidate, and La Canfora, citing multiple sources inside and outside the organization, reports that the the 49ers' vice president of player personnel appears to be the frontrunner for the position.
Softli told CSN Bay Area that his interview "went well, and I'm excited about the opportunity." He described the interview as "thorough."
York fired coach Mike Singletary late Sunday after a 25-17 loss at St. Louis eliminated the 49ers (5-10) from playoff contention, their eighth straight year out of the postseason.
York vowed to make his team a contender, starting by hiring a GM, who in turn will choose Singletary's successor. San Francisco has been without a general manager since Scot McCloughan's abrupt departure last March, which York called a "mutual parting." McCloughan wound up with division rival Seattle, and Baalke took over football operations for the Niners.
La Canfora reports that many inside and outside the 49ers organization believe it will be difficult to convince ownership to hire from outside. Baalke is held in high esteem by the 49ers, and several players said they are under the impression he will remain in a position of prominence. Baalke, players said, has held meetings with veteran players and begun discussing some plans for 2011.
The organization aims to land an A-list coach, such as Jon Gruden or Jim Harbaugh, and La Canfora reports that could be difficult if major structural changes are not made to the front office.
The 49ers, picked during preseason by many to win the NFC West, haven't had a winning season since their last trip to the playoffs in 2002.
Promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will coach Sunday's season finale, at home against Arizona.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.