Controversy Surrounding San Francisco GM’s Leave Of Absence

March 19th, 2010 – By John Ritter

With just five weeks remaining until the NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers are without a general manager – kind of.

Scot McCloughan took an indefinite leave of absence earlier in the week to deal with personal issues, but his agent told the Associated Press that he is still officially part of the team. Very little has been leaked publicly about the thorny situation, and there are rumors that he is on the outs.

According to ProFootballTalk, some of the team’s players have told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat “things were moved out of McCloughlan’s office.”

“I don’t control those reports,” McCloughan’s agent, Peter Schaffer said. “Every employer has every right to terminate an employee. Those are the rules…He has not resigned and he has no plans to resign.”

The Niners knowingly allowed McCloughan an extended leave to deal with personal issues, although the nature is unclear. He said “I’m fine and moving forward” in a text message to AOL FanHouse, but stopped short of sharing details.

The decision, according to FanHouse, came after a brief meeting with team executives on Wednesday.

It’s a terrible time for San Francisco to be marching to the draft without their personnel manager. It has two picks in the draft’s first round, and has eight overall. Many believe the Niners are just a player or two away from taking over the NFC West after an 8-8 year, and their odds are improving with the reshuffling happening in Arizona.

Bodog currently lists San Francisco’s odds for the 2011 Super Bowl at 40/1.

The Niners haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, but McCloughan has been credited for turning the team around and sending it upwards to the middle of the league. He is a highly-admired executive with stops in Green Bay and Seattle on his resume before joining San Francisco in 2005. He was given full GM duties in 2008.

Head coach Mike Singletary will likely gain more power in the draft room now, and told reporters that he is going to have a big hand in the team’s selections this April. It is also believed team president and CEO Jed York will gain more control as a personnel man, although there are several in-house candidates to take over as GM.

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