With the Bears hiring Ryan Poles on Tuesday, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is expected to be the Vikings' next general manager. He's in Minnesota right now for his second interview with the team's search committee and a deal could be finalized by this evening.
It's not an absolute lock, I suppose, but I think it's fairly safe to operate under the assumption that Adofo-Mensah will be the Vikings' GM.
His first order of business? Hiring a head coach. Adofo-Mensah will be looking for someone who is a strong football mind, leader, and collaborator. It's unclear if he will simply be selecting from the group of eight candidates the Vikings have already interviewed, or if he will be adding candidates to that list for additional interviews.
We don't know what he's thinking when it comes to head coach candidates, but what we can look at are the coaches that he has connections to from his nine years in the NFL. When making a decision like this, it would be understandable to go with someone you already have an established relationship with. Adofo-Mensah and the Vikings could obviously go in any number of directions, but these connections are at least worth noting.
As a starting reference point, Adofo-Mensah worked in research and development in the 49ers' front office from 2013-19. He has spent the last two seasons with the Browns as their VP of football operations under GM Andrew Berry.
Connections with coaches the Vikings have already interviewed
49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans
Overlap period with Adofo-Mensah: 2017-19
After his NFL playing days came to an end, Ryans got his coaching start as a defensive quality control coach with the 49ers in 2017. Adofo-Mensah had just been promoted to director of football research and development in the SF front office. They overlapped for the next three seasons, with Ryans getting promoted to inside linebackers coach in 2018. Adofo-Mensah then went off to Cleveland in 2020 and Ryans replaced Robert Saleh as the 49ers' defensive coordinator this season, becoming an impressive head coach candidate.
Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell
Overlap period with Adofo-Mensah: 2016
It's important to note that these two crossed paths for just one season, when O'Connell was on the 49ers' offensive staff as a special projects coach in 2016. He then spent three years in Washington before being named the Rams' offensive coordinator under Sean McVay in 2020. O'Connell, a former quarterback, is a bright, young offensive mind.
Other connections to note
49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel
Overlap period with Adofo-Mensah: 2017-19
McDaniel has basically gone everywhere Kyle Shanahan has gone during his coaching career, and that included joining him on the 49ers' staff when Shanahan got the HC gig there. McDaniel spent four seasons as San Francisco's run game coordinator, overlapping with Adofo-Mensah for the first three. This was his first year as their offensive coordinator. McDaniel is two years younger than Adofo-Mensah and they both went to Ivy League schools (KAM went to Princeton, McDaniel went to Yale), so maybe they knew each other somewhat well in SF. McDaniel has interviewed with the Dolphins, but not the Vikings.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh
Overlap period with Adofo-Mensah: 2013-14
When Adofo-Mensah got started with the 49ers in 2013, Harbaugh was the head coach. That team went to a third consecutive NFC championship game, but came up short against the Legion of Boom Seahawks, who won the Super Bowl. After an 8-8 season in 2014, Harbaugh left to take the job at his alma mater, Michigan. He's been there ever since, leading the Wolverines to a College Football Playoff berth this season. Harbaugh has had success in both the NFL and college and is a dark horse candidate to return to the NFL this year. The Raiders have been rumored as a potential landing spot, but Monday brought a rumor involving the Vikings. Crazier things have happened.
Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods
Overlap period with Adofo-Mensah: 2019-21
I haven't seen any head coach buzz for either of the Browns' coordinators — OC Alex Van Pelt and DC Joe Woods. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, who was with the Vikings from 2011-2018, might be closer to being a HC than either of them. But Woods' name is worth tossing out there. He was the Vikings' defensive backs coach from 2006-13. In 2019, he was on San Francisco's staff. Then he was hired as Kevin Stefanski's DC in 2020, meaning he's been around Adofo-Mensah for the past three years. Still, this is an astronomical longshot.
- Former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio (49ers 2013-14)
- Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur (49ers 2017-19)
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