It was reported Tuesday night that the Tennessee Titans have recruited Ran Carthon, the head of professional scouting for the San Francisco 49ers, to be their next general manager.
Bringing on Carthon as the next franchise manager is a big step in a new direction. Carthon has been with the 49ers since 2017, when he started working as John Lynch’s assistant while the team assembled one of the NFL’s best teams.
San Francisco has been a breeding ground for leadership potential, with three of the last four seasons including a trip to the Super Bowl in 2020.
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To no one’s surprise, Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan in the West have sparked a revolution, and now the Titans want a piece of the action. It’s hardly shocking that Carthon was the one to make the move from San Francisco to Nashville. Carthon’s dad was a Super Bowl-winning fullback who went on to become an NFL offensive coordinator and assistant head coach, so it’s no surprise that he went into the NFL himself.
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, a former player who has expressed interest in wanting to collaborate and be unified with his GM on personnel decisions, can’t be blind to the allure of having a general manager with a playing background who worked for a Hall of Fame player turned general manager in Lynch.
Carthon told the Associated Press in January of 2022 that the significance of Lynch’s partnership with Shanahan was the most important thing he had learnt during his time in San Francisco.
Working with Vrabel, Carthon adds more than just a positive approach. He oversaw professional and advanced scouting for San Francisco, where he assisted in making roster selections for the team in areas like as free agency, trades, and player retention.
The 49ers have been one of the NFL’s most active and willing trade partners during Carthon’s tenure. The team traded for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots in 2017, and they ended up giving him the richest contract in NFL history.
The 49ers traded for defensive end Dee Ford in March of 2020, offensive tackle Trent Williams in April of the same year, and a first-round pick in return for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner in the following year’s draft. The Niners are undefeated in games in which running back Christian McCaffrey has started this season and in the playoffs.
Even though the 49ers have been frequent participants in trades, they have been less involved with high-profile free agents, especially during the past three seasons.
While they did make late-career signings of notable players like Richard Sherman at cornerback and Alex Mack at center, the team has generally avoided long-term deals for second-contract players since 2017, when they failed to pan out with offensive lineman Weston Richburg and linebacker Malcolm Smith.
The 49ers drafted several future All-Pros, including George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, and Talanoa Hufanga, although how much credit Carthon deserves for this is debatable given that his duties in San Francisco did not involve collegiate scouting.
As a result of his experience working with the scouts that uncovered Kittle, Warner, and Hufanga in the later rounds of the draft, Carthon now has a good idea of what qualities to look for in both prospects and the scouts he employs.
Perhaps most importantly right now, Carthon has a personal connection to the many Shanahan assistants who are now head coaches and offensive coordinators throughout the NFL thanks to his time spent working alongside Shanahan.
Carthon’s first item of business is to choose a new offensive coordinator for the Titans. He has connections to current and past 49ers coaches, who may be able to introduce Vrabel and the Titans to some of the league’s most creative minds.
It’s not a given that you’ll enjoy the same level of success just because you hired a former general manager from a thriving business. Even if a new general manager is hired, there is no assurance that he would continue his predecessor’s organizational structure.
hon will bring not only his own ideas, but also those he has gained from his time working for the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams, from his playing days, and from his father’s experience as a player and coach.
If Carthon’s goal is to model the Titans after the 49ers, then fans can anticipate open lines of communication between the two, a scout’s eye for talent, aggressiveness in the trade market and the willingness to give up draft picks for key players, reluctance to hand out big money to free agents, and an on-field product that is less of a reaction to what the rest of the league is doing and more of a showcase for cutting-edge ideas.