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Detroit Lions interview Brad Holmes, George Paton for general manager

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The Detroit Lions are almost done with their first round of interviews for the vacant position of general manager of the team. And they have now met with one of the leading candidates to become the team’s next head coach.

The Lions confirmed that they completed two more interviews for the GM job. They met with Brad Holmes, director of college scouting for the Los Angeles Rams, and George Paton, assistant general manager for the Minnesota Vikings, on Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed interviews for the job to 10, with at least one more – the Saint’s assistant, GM Jeff Ireland – scheduled for Friday.

The Lions also conducted a virtual interview Thursday with Robert Saleh, the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator, for her position as head coach. A native of Dearborn, Saleh is expected to be interviewing for five of the six current NFL openings. He already met with Atlanta on Monday and is scheduled to speak to the New York Jets on Friday and the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.

Saleh, 41, is a Fordson graduate with close family ties in the Detroit area. He began his coaching as an assistant in Michigan State, but has built a reputation for himself as one of the best defensive coaches in the league over a 15-year NFL career. He started in Houston and Seattle – he won a Super Bowl ring with Pete Carroll in 2013 – before moving to Jacksonville with one of his coaching mentors, Gus Bradley, whose cover 3 program he still uses. Then Kyle Shanahan brought Saleh to San Francisco and gave him his first coordinator job in 2017.

Saleh’s dominant defense helped get the 49ers into the Super Bowl a year ago, and San Francisco ended that season with another top-5 unit despite injuries, which was without Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Richard for most of the season Sherman played. among other. His players have publicly campaigned for Saleh for the past two years to get an opportunity to head coach, and after being one of two finalists for the Cleveland Browns job that went to Kevin Stefanski last winter, the expectation is in the entire league that he’s getting one this month.

The San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is likely to be a top candidate for the Lions head coach.

“We have a great coach in Saleh and so I think he will get what he deserves,” Shanahan said this week. “I think Saleh is going to kill these interviews. He’s going to do a great job.”

41-year-old Holmes, who lives in Atlanta and was interviewed Tuesday for the Falcons’ GM job, has spent his entire 18-year NFL career with the Rams organization, working his way up from a PR internship to Boy Scouts . He has been the team’s scouting director since 2013.

Paton has a long résumé and has worked in various front office roles with the Vikings since 2006. He is also no stranger to the Lions search committee, having spent most of his career as an NFL manager – with previous stints in Chicago and Miami previously Minnesota – working with current Viking GM Rick Spielman. Spielman’s brother Chris was hired last month as special assistant to owner Sheila Ford Hamp and team president Rod Wood. The former Lions all-pro linebacker is part of the interview process.

Paton has been selective in pursuing GM jobs in the past, including being turned down by Detroit in 2016 when the team hired Bob Quinn. But he did an interview in Cleveland last winter, and Denver reportedly asked to meet with him this time.

Wood said Tuesday the team’s interviews up to this point had all been virtual and would “likely” continue this week, although this is only a requirement for candidates who are under contract with teams in the playoffs, according to the NFL’s COVID . 19 logs. The NFL Network reported that Paton’s interview on Wednesday was in person.

“Once we have a finalist or two for either position, we will definitely meet with the person,” said Wood. “So at some point we’ll meet in person, but at the moment everything is virtual. It works well. We’re all used to it somehow. They get a good feeling for the person – maybe not the same feeling you would in a room with them. It’s pretty productive from a time perspective too. You can do this and not have to fly across the country. I think it allows us to be really productive this week speaking to a range of people who might have been fewer if we had to travel or fly in. At some point there will surely be personal interviews. ”

The Lions also met with Saints’ assistant, GM Terry Fontenot, on Tuesday and previously interviewed seven other GM candidates: former NFL GMs Rick Smith, Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli, current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick and the internal ones Candidates Lance Newmark, Kyle O’Brien and Rob Lohman.

Saleh will be the fourth known coaching candidate to interview the team. He joins Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who interviewed former Bengali head coach Marvin Lewis and temporary head coach Darrell Bevell on Monday. The team has reportedly scheduled an interview next week with Saints’ deputy head coach Dan Campbell, a former NFL tight-end who played for the Lions from 2006-08.

As the Lions’ coaching search continues, Detroit holdover staff members look elsewhere.

Defensive coach Bo Davis, who missed the last two regular season games due to COVID-19, will join Steve Sarkisian’s new coaching staff at the University of Texas, according to multiple reports. Davis spent the last three years with Matt Patricia in Detroit, but previously had a long career as a coach in college, including a stint with the Longhorns from 2011-13.

Offensive line coach Hank Fraley, who has been heavily endorsed by key players and interim head coach Darrell Bevell for his work this season, will be interviewing for the Bengals’ offensive line job on Saturday, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Sean Ryan, the Lions quarterbacks coach, is a candidate for Matt Rhule’s Carolina staff, replacing Jake Peetz, who has departed as LSU offensive coordinator. Rhule and Ryan previously worked with the New York Giants.

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Twitter: @JohnNiyo

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