On the 49ers: Will the team pick from Ron Wolf’s tree of GM candidates?

Ron Wolf’s mentoring tree is starting to look like a grove.

The former Green Bay Packers general manager, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year, has groomed five current NFL general managers, three of whom – the Raiders’ Reggie McKenzie, the Chiefs’ John Dorsey and the Seahawks’ John Schneider – have their teams in this season’s playoffs. Two others, Green Bay’s Ted Thompson and Washington’s Scot McCloughan, also have a chance at the postseason.

Wolf’s general manager offshoots could grow to six if the 49ers, as expected, part ways with Trent Baalke next week. Here’s a list of possible GM candidates heading into the offseason:

Chris Ballard, Kansas City

Ballard interviewed for the Bears general manager opening after the 2014 season and the Titans job a year ago. He joined the Chiefs in 2013 and has worked under Dorsey, a Wolf disciple who spent 21 seasons in the Packers scouting department. Ballard played wide receiver at Wisconsin, which means he likely has insight into a position the 49ers have struggled to draft since the late 1990s.

Nick Caserio, New England

He presumably has an eye for pass catchers having served as the team’s wide receivers coach in 2007. Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes that year, Randy Moss was named a first-team All-Pro and the Patriots narrowly lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl. He returned to scouting the following year and is now the director of player personnel, the top spot in the Patriots’ scouting department but one that plays second fiddle…

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