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Washington begins process of hiring a GM, requests interview with Martin Mayhew of 49ers

Washington Football Team players run onto the field before Saturday’s playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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In the first clear indication that it plans to hire a general manager, the Washington Football Team requested to interview Martin Mayhew, the San Francisco 49ers’ vice president of player personnel, for the role, a person knowledgeable about the matter said Tuesday.

Despite rampant speculation that Washington would hire a GM this offseason, Coach Ron Rivera has declined to confirm it publicly, only going so far as to tell 106.7 the Fan in a recent interview that “there’s more to this position than meets the eye.”

“There’s so much operational stuff that’s involved as well,” Rivera said. “There’s a lot to it. This is not just picking players and making decisions on contracts or hiring coaches or what have you. It is a big task.”

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Mayhew, a former defensive back drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1988, spent nine years in the NFL, including four with Washington, winning a Super Bowl XXVI ring in the 1991 season. After retiring, Mayhew received his law degree from Georgetown University in 2000, then spent nine months as an intern in Washington’s personnel department. He went on to work 15 years with the Detroit Lions, rising from senior director of football administration to assistant general manager and then to GM before moving on to the New York Giants as their director of football operations/special projects.

The 55-year-old was hired by the 49ers in 2017 to be their senior personnel executive, a role he held for two years before being elevated to his current position.

According to multiple reports, Washington also requested permission to interview Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Ryan Cowden, a 37-year-old who was a scout for the Carolina Panthers when Rivera was their coach.

Mayhew and Cowden are represented by Frank Bauer, who is also the agent for Rivera.

When Washington hired Rivera last year, owner Daniel Snyder said the front office would become coach-centric.

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“We’re going to have one voice and one voice alone, and that’s going to be the coach’s,” Snyder said when introducing Rivera last January.

The vision was to create something akin to what Seattle and New England have: a head coach in control of the on-field decisions as well as the roster while working in unison with a general manager or top personnel executive to find the right talent. Rivera has final say over Washington’s roster and personnel decisions, and it’s believed the GM will report to him, not Snyder.

Rivera began to retool the front office last year. He promoted Kyle Smith, putting him in charge of both college and pro personnel; he moved Doug Williams from personnel to player development; and he hired Rob Rogers to take over the duties of Eric Schaffer, who had been the team’s vice president of football operations.

Although additional changes were made to the scouting and personnel department, the GM role was never formally created, but that may soon change.