With just over a month before a draft in which they are scheduled to have two first-round picks, the San Francisco 49ers are giving general manager Scot McCloughan an extended leave of absence, multiple league sources said Thursday.
The sources said McCloughan has been dealing with personal issues and the 49ers want him to be able to concentrate on those indefinitely. The organization is said to have been bracing for it for days and believes it is well prepared for next month's draft in which it is scheduled to have the 13th and 17th overall picks.
One league source said San Francisco knows the direction it is going and it has a plan to move forward.
McCloughan told AOL FanHouse via text message, "I'm fine and moving forward."
With McCloughan away indefinitely, the 49ers will lean more heavily on director of player personnel Trent Baalke and director of pro personnel Tom Gamble, who are widely respected in NFL circles. Team president Jed York will not, as some have speculated, take on a larger role of responsibility. McCloughan's brother, Dave, is the 49ers' director of college scouting.
The league source said that the reason speculation is swirling while answers are not flowing is that the 49ers are trying to be as respectful as possible of the process and McCloughan, who has roughly two years remaining on his contract. 49ers officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Sources around the league believe McCloughan could wind up in Green Bay with his friend Ted Thompson.
McCloughan and Thompson are longtime friends, and the Packers never filled the void created when John Schneider left to become the Seahawks general manager.
One source close to McCloughan texted that there already are options, and many think Green Bay will be near the top of the list.
Of course, first the 49ers and McCloughan must figure out how to end their relationship. Once they do, it would free McCloughan to work elsewhere.
The 49ers hired McCloughan in February 2005 to supervise their personnel department for Mike Nolan, a career assistant coach who was improbably given total control of the club's football operations by owner John York, Jed's father and the brother-in-law of former owner Eddie DeBartolo.
McCloughan is a former minor league baseball player who became a respected young personnel executive during stints with Green Bay and Seattle. He has a mostly solid record during his years with the 49ers, compiling a young talent base that has steadily improved for most of his tenure -- yet the 49ers still haven't reached the playoffs in five seasons since his arrival, with an 8-8 record last season that was their best since 2002.
McCloughan was named general manager in January 2008 when the 49ers nominally gave him authority over Nolan instead of firing the coach after the 49ers' third straight losing season. Nolan lasted just seven more games, with Jed York abruptly replacing him with Mike Singletary during the 2008 season.
McCloughan had the final say on the 49ers' last two drafts, but Singletary told reporters at the NFL scouting combine last month the club would make its draft-day decisions according to players' rankings on an overall draft board, not on the gut feelings of any team executives.
Adam Schefter is an NFL reporter for ESPN Insider. The Associated Press contributed to this story.