There was plenty of teeth-gnashing on Sunday, first toward the end of the Giants-Redskins game to see if the Pack would earn a playoff spot, then during the Sunday night game to see if they’d earn a fifth division crown in six years.
Sounds like the current gnashing of teeth in Packer nation has been ratcheted up a few notches over the last 24 hours, on the news that presumed Packer GM-in-waiting Eliot Wolf will be interviewing for the vacant 49ers GM position on Thursday in Green Bay. And while they’re at it, the Niners brass will also have a sit down with Brian Gutekunst.
Count me among the fans who are intrigued by the young Wolf’s promise, growing up immersed in the business with his Hall of Fame dad. At 34, he was born for a role like this and most Packer fans assumed it’s not if, but rather when he will succeed Ted Thompson. Other teams have expressed interest in recent years, and Wolf has met with a few teams.
Whether he has a ‘wink-wink’ deal with Mark Murphy is anyone’s guess, but he has yet to land a GM gig. Thompson is 64 and likely would like to stick around for as much of Aaron Rodgers’ prime as he can, to see if he can help coax another Lombardi Trophy or two out of the organization to augment his fine resume, before he rides off into the sunset.
Of course none of us know what Wolf considers his dream job. From our perspective, taking the reins of the Packers should be his ultimate next step, since his dad was most responsible for lifting the team from the ashes that were the ’70s and ’80s. But maybe he looks at the success the organization has enjoyed over the past 25 years and is more interested in building something from scratch, to be responsible for a team’s resurrection, just like his dad.
And if so, what better place to do it than San Francisco? One of the blue bloods, an organization that has hit rock bottom since showing Jim Harbaugh the door a few years ago. Of course, many point to owner Jed York as one of the big problems there, and if Wolf determines that he’s not feeling the vibe, he could pass.
Maybe he has a short list of teams he would take over if offered and maybe SF is one of them. If he’s offered the job, maybe the Packers make him an offer he can’t refuse and lift Thompson into some kind of Grand Poobah of scouting–that’s his favorite part of the job anyway.
But maybe the Packers don’t feel that Wolf is the slam dunk successor to Thompson. Remember, there are other ‘Eliot Wolfs’ running teams right now: John Schneider in Seattle, John Dorsey in KC, Reggie McKenzie in Oakland. Maybe the team feels that between Wolf, Gutekunst and Alonzo Highsmith they have three worthy heirs to the throne. And maybe they’re happy to let Thompson do his thing until his contract expires in two years.
Let’s not forget that the teams Thompson have built have reached the playoffs for eight straight years and their roster is consistently one of the deepest and talent-rich in the league. Has he made some draft blunders? For sure. Does he get a little too comfy keeping undrafted rookies sometimes? Probably. Is his near complete disdain for NFL free agency frustrating? Absolutely. But he is a known quantity. Wolf isn’t. We all believe he will be a slam dunk GM, but none of us know.
It’s always exciting to bypass the set of luggage for what’s behind door number two. But sometimes when the curtains part, you get a blender. So my advice: let’s spend our time gnashing our teeth thinking about Eli, OBJ and those DBs and let the other stuff work itself out.