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With Adam Peters moving on, what’s next for the 49ers front office?

Marc Adams
Jan 13, 2024 at 12:00 PM--

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On Friday, the San Francisco 49ers lost a key member of the front office. Assistant General Manager Adam Peters will be leaving the organization to become the general manager of the Washington Commanders. Peters has been with the 49ers since 2017 when he was hired as vice president of player personnel before being promoted to assistant general manager.

When General Manager John Lynch joined the 49ers, one of the first things he did was bring on Peters, who by all accounts, is an excellent talent evaluator. Peters had been part of two different Super Bowl-winning organizations, and the 49ers hoped he could bring some of that experience to a rebuilding franchise in San Francisco, which featured a first-time head coach in Kyle Shanahan, and a first-time general manager in Lynch, who came to the team right out of the press box.

In their seven years together, Shanahan, Lynch, Peters, and the rest of the front office have built the NFL's best roster. The 49ers own the top seed in the NFC and are one of the favorites to win this year's Super Bowl. Additionally, the 49ers had seven players named to the 2023 Associated Press All-Pro Team. Five of them (Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Trent Williams, Fred Warner, and Kyle Juszczyk) were named First-Team All-Pro, while two others (Brandon Aiyuk and Charvarius Ward) were named Second-Team All-Pro.

Peters has been a key part of the success of this roster. And while we may never know who is most responsible for each player drafted or signed, we do know that Peters will be missed. But who will replace him in Santa Clara? Here are a few possibilities:

Tariq Ahmad, 49ers Director of College Scouting

If the 49ers decide to stay in-house and hire one of their own, Tariq Ahmad is likely the front-runner. Ahmad has been with the 49ers since 2014, when he was an assistant in the team's scouting department. He became an area scout for San Francisco in 2015 before being promoted to assistant director of college scouting in 2020. One year later, Ahmad was promoted again and named the team's director of college scouting.

Ahmad has caught the eye of the 49ers, as well as some who cover the team. David Lombardi, a 49ers reporter for "The Athletic," wrote, "Adam Peters has been John Lynch's top lieutenant. The GM has delegated much responsibility to Peters, who's been the head of a scouting dept that's seen immense success — evidenced by a very impressive hit rate in mid-to-late rounds. I expect SF to replace Peters from within."

Others who cover the team have noticed the 49ers making Ahmad more visible, including having him sit next to Peters in a 2023 post-draft press conference, perhaps preparing for his next role.

Ahmad is the front-runner if the 49ers promote from within, which they like to do. And he may be the front-runner regardless. The 49ers seem to be high on him.

R.J. Gillen, 49ers Director of Pro Personnel

R.J. Gillen is another possibility to fill Peters' shoes, should the 49ers decide to promote from within, though he's not as likely as Ahmad. Gillen has been with the 49ers for nine seasons, the last three as the director of pro personnel. Before that, he was a pro personnel scout with the 49ers for five years.

According to his bio on the team website, "Gillen manages the daily operations of the pro scouting department and their evaluations of players among the various professional leagues to help prepare the club for acquisitions through free agency, trades and the daily player transactional movement. Gillen also assists the coaching staff in preparation for the 49ers upcoming opponents through his advanced scouting."

Martin Mayhew, former 49ers' vice president of player personnel and (for now) Washington Commanders general manager

This could be a little awkward. Martin Mayhew, the most recent GM of the Commanders, is being reunited with his friend and new GM of the Commanders. So far, there's been no word on Mayhew's future in Washington. If the Commanders decide not to retain him, could he return to the 49ers?

Matt Barrows, in an article for "The Athletic," wrote, "What could happen to the 49ers front office if Peters leaves? If the Commanders hire him, it might trigger the dismissal of Washington GM Martin Mayhew, one of Lynch's top lieutenants in San Francisco from 2017 to '18. Mayhew could return in an assistant GM-like role with the 49ers."

In 2017, Lynch was a brand-new GM, and he decided to bring Mayhew onto the staff with the 49ers to help him navigate the new waters of being an NFL general manager. It's certainly possible that Lynch could bring Mayhew back to the Bay Area.

Tom Telesco, former Los Angeles Chargers general manager

Barrows also mentioned another name in his article, Tom Telesco, formerly of the Los Angeles Chargers. Telesco was the GM of the Chargers from 2013 to 2023. He began his career as a summer intern with the Buffalo Bills from 1991-1994. You may recall those teams went to four straight Super Bowls.

Barrows writes, "Lynch also has a good relationship with former Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, who was fired last month along with coach Brandon Staley following the Chargers' 63-21 loss to the Raiders. Like Mayhew, Telesco would bring experience to the 49ers front office."

This would be a very intriguing name for the 49ers to add to the front office. The Chargers have been perennial underachievers. But Telesco has built some good rosters in his 11 years with the Chargers. His issues seem to have been more with the coaching decisions he made.

Would Telesco be interested in a job in which he is not the GM? He is already being named as a possibility for the Las Vegas Raiders GM job. But if anyone can convince him to come to San Francisco, it's Lynch.

How will Peters' departure affect the 49ers' front office? That remains to be seen, but Peters will be missed. Especially if he had the biggest role with the late-round success this regime has had in the draft. That may be the hardest part to replace.

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