The search for the 49ers' next general manager began in earnest Tuesday when team president Jed York interviewed former Rams executive Tony Softli for the position. York plans to meet later this week with former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist. The team also has reached out to former Saints executive Rick Mueller, the Bee has learned, although no interview has been set up.
York on Monday said the first step in finding a general manager will be to interview candidates who have held the title before but who are not currently employed by an NFL team. That process will last until Sunday, York said. If he doesn't find the right person by then, he will expand his search to executives on other teams.
York has said that that Trent Baalke, who has run the 49ers personnel department since general manager Scot McCloughan left the team in March, "is very much in the mix" for the position. York spoke positively of Baalke during a segment on "Chronicle Live" Tuesday and also cited his familiarity with Baalke during a press conference Monday.
"Trent will be a part of this evaluation process," York said Monday. "I mean, he's been functioning as a general manager-like person and obviously I know what Trent has done with us and it's a lot easier to evaluate someone who's here when they're actually working with you, but we need to go out and look at a lot of other people that have been there, that have done that before in the past and potentially could do it here for us in the future."
Softli, meanwhile, spent 11 seasons with the Carolina Panthers personnel department before joining the Rams as their vice president of player personnel. Softli held that position for four seasons before leaving the team in March. By interviewing Softli, the 49ers have met their obligation under the NFL's "Rooney Rule" to interview at least one minority candidate before making a hire. News of Softli's interview was first reported by CSN Bay Area.
In an interview Tuesday, Sundquist said that he's spoken with York over the phone and that he would fly into the Bay Area later this week for a formal interview. Sundquist joined the Broncos as a scout in 1993 and worked his way up to general manager in 2002. He left the team in March of 2008.
Sundquist is currently the Director of Player Personnel of the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. This past season in Omaha, Sundquist worked alongside Mueller, who served as the Saints director of player personnel from 2000-2008. Before that, Mueller was the director of college scouting for the Jaguars. Mueller also has ties to Sacramento having coached for both the Sacramento Surge of the World League of American Football and the Canadian Football League's Sacramento Gold Miners.
-- Matt Barrows