Gridiron Guru?


Knowing that I am a lifelong die-hard 49ers fan, my friend Sandeep S. tips me off about the ambitious young Paraag Marathe. Who is he and how did he end up in the 9ers front office at the age of 28? The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Anyone following the 49ers’ upheaval the last month [NSFW] ran across the name of Paraag Marathe. The assistant to the general manager’s rapid ascension within the 49ers caught the notice of the rest of the league during the team’s recent shakeup.

Who is this 28-year-old whiz kid? How did this man with an MBA from Stanford with little grounding in football become one of four people choosing the 49ers’ next coach and establishing the direction of an organization adrift? Because nobody knew the answers to these questions, Marathe became a lightning rod for the general dismay with the organization among columnists, radio talk-show hosts and even the NFL set, who openly wondered what he was doing in the team’s brain trust.

Marathe (pronounced mah-RAH-tay) became the unwitting victim of what many perceived as co-owner John York’s NFL ignorance. It’s a fact this business consultant from San Jose, via Cal and Stanford, impressed York after then- general manager Terry Donahue brought him in and was a big influence on the coaching search. But he is not expected to play a major role, as yet, in the organization.

9ers fans have always demanded excellence. Should we give this new kid a chance? The 9ers former owner Eddie DeBartolo was the MAN. He made his players happy at any cost and they showed their appreciation on the field with unmatched play. His brother-in-law, John York, pushed him out when Debartolo ran into mob related legal problems. York is a business man with no heart for football and has driven the 9ers into the ground.

The industrious Marathe won the admiration of York, a licensed pathologist who admittedly relied heavily on his business background (running laboratories and race tracks) to steer his ownership of the 49ers.

“John is a scientist,” a source close to York said on the condition of anonymity. “He loves proofs and statistical models.”

In his projects, Marathe created graphs and charts that impressed York. After working with the 49ers for 18 months, Marathe befriended Jed York, John’s eldest son. Seemingly, as the 23-year-old Jed became more visible at the 49ers’ headquarters, eventually joining high-level meetings, so did Marathe.

Marathe’s ascension coincided with the departure of Walsh and director of football operations John McVay, which could have been more than a coincidence. Privately, neither liked the statistical approach Donahue espoused. Marathe and his computer shot down Walsh and McVay’s trade proposals during the 2003 draft. This didn’t sit well with either man, who had built the 49ers’ success partly on their impulses.

Ouch. You never f*ck with Bill Walsh’s instincts. Who does this kid think he is? As a scientist I can see where he is coming from. Still though, football is about going with your gut. All of us that are addicted to managing our Fantasy Football teams in the fall know this all too well.

It might have been assumed Marathe would influence York to hire a coach who embraced Marathe’s statistical program. Of the five candidates, Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was the most enamored of statistical analysis and Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan the least.

Nolan was hired, and even though Marathe will have significant say in salary-cap matters, he’s not the power broker many assumed he would be when he was included in the interview process.

“I think Paraag is clearly the salary-cap person and negotiator, I don’t think at this point in time that Paraag has the experience to be the general manager,” York said. “I think over time that he could.”

Next year I am going to email my Fantasy Football standing to York. Paraag ain’t got nothing on me.

12 thoughts on “Gridiron Guru?

  1. this is awesome, finally an indian in sports. I wanted to do the same but then my parents scared me into thinking I will die on the street w/o food and a proper wife unless i got a real job in medicine. Oh well, i hope this guy makes it, that would be great, 28 yrs old and already up there. Wow.

  2. I wonder if he was even allowed to play football as a kid? Most aunties have a fatalistic fear of their beta being tackled and breaking something or becoming paralyzed…

  3. Trust an Indian (or American-Indian or whatever you want to call him) dude to build statistical models and such…on a related note, there is a guy in baseball, Bill James, who is heavily into using statistics in baseball.

  4. wonder if he was even allowed to play football as a kid? Most aunties have a fatalistic fear of their beta being tackled and breaking something or becoming paralyzed

    My mom was this way too but my dad was all for me playing 4 yrs in high school, it was one of the best things I ever did. It really taught me how competitive the world around you can be, plus it was a lot of fun, except for when 270 lb guys would crush you into the ground. My other goal of using football to impress the chicks went largely ignored as the indian girls I was after at 16 were already looking for the next great pre-med student :(

  5. i wonder if his being indian also makes him the spellchecker for the nameplates that go on the back of the jerseys?

  6. The Chronicle is totally overstating what P does. He’s just part of the decision-making process, it’s not like he’s sitting around with an abacus and spreadsheets deciding each move. I think it’s easy for the media to look at this young guy and assume the worst, a la Moneyball. But give him a couple years and see what happens. It’s going to take that long for P, Nolan and the rest to dig out of the mess of the previous regime.

  7. This is a fuckin joke and I can’t believe [although I have known...] we still have this tool in the front office. But what scares me more is he is now inside and somehow [against all that is good and holy] allowed in the $%#$%@ defensive coaches box during games …this is insanity!!!

    However I hear they have been isolating the little monkey and putting him into unimportant positions. But again just in case any of you pandering idiots keep singing the praises of paraag marathe, please know they do have every intention of removing him completely from the organization …but these things take time.

  8. allfury’s comment is baseless. He needs to get a life. I’m frankly very surprised that this blog would choose to retain such blatently racist comments.