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Kwesi Adofo-Mensah Outlines What Vikings Seek in Next Head Coach

EAGAN, Minn. — Now that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has explained his path to "finding his people" and set in motion a "thoughtful and intentional" process as the new Vikings general manager, the most pressing issue for the Vikings organization is selecting the 10th head coach in team history.

Adofo-Mensah said a meeting was planned after his Thursday media session to start building on the work that has already been done by the search committee.

"We're going to dive into this head-coaching search and bring a partner to me and this organization that's going to lead us to where we want to go," Adofo-Mensah said. "We've had some initial conversations, but those have just been initial; obviously, we're going to dive more into it as the week goes on.

"At the same time, I want to get around and meet everybody. When you look at the roster and look at the success of this organization over the long-term, you realize there had to be great people in this building. It's just undoubtable," he continued. "You see a lot of great-character players they kept around, love the family environment and the atmosphere here. I want to get around and meet everybody, know their names, where they sit, what drove them to come here, their passion for football, everything about them.

"Our approach to building this roster will be intentional, thoughtful, thorough and detailed, well-planned," Adofo-Mensah added. "We know the destination — sustained success and championships for these great fans. We know how to get there, it's just having the willingness and the wherewithal and the confidence to make those decisions and stay on the right path."

The Vikings search committee confirmed it participated in interviews with eight candidates for the head coach position before hiring Adofo-Mensah Wednesday.

Minnesota started the process by interviewing Nathaniel Hackett on Jan. 16. The former Packers offensive coordinator on Thursday agreed to terms with the Denver Broncos, the team website confirmed.

Four of the candidates who interviewed — Dan Quinn, Kellan Moore, Jonathan Gannon and Todd Bowles — spent 2021 with teams that have been eliminated from the postseason, so they are eligible to be requested for a second interview.

View photos of new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during his introductory press conference with the media on Jan. 27 at the TCO Performance Center.

Three of the candidates — Rams Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris, Rams Offensive Coordinator Kevin O’Connell and 49ers Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans — are involved in Sunday's NFC Championship Game.

NFL hiring rules will allow candidates who have previously interviewed with a team and who advance to the Super Bowl to hold a second interview between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6. Secondary interviews are not allowed with Super Bowl-participating coaches during the week of the game but can resume on Feb. 14.

Adofo-Mensah outlined what the Vikings are looking for in the next head coach:

"We know what we want to find. We want leadership. We want someone who we know is going to rally the collective over the individual," he said. "We want somebody who's got vision, who can communicate, who's got a solid football foundation. Who understands how footballs are interconnected and what that means. So, that's been our focus in these last few days. Really honing in on what we want. In terms of specific names, we're going to meet after I get done with you great people, and we'll talk about that further."

View photos of new Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during his first day as a Viking at the TCO Performance Center on Jan. 26.

Adofo-Mensah's work with San Francisco's football and research development overlapped with parts or all of the tenures of four 49ers head coaches. He started in 2013 and was with the Niners for Jim Harbaugh's final two seasons, as well as 2015 with Jim Tomsula and 2016 with Chip Kelly in charge. Kyle Shanahan was hired by 49ers General Manager John Lynch in 2017, the day after Super Bowl LI.

Lynch had been hired as GM the previous week. When asked about the first few moments, days and week of being in the role, Lynch just started laughing.

"I'm laughing because it never stops," Lynch said. "I tell people after I took this job, there's a reason they call it general manager because it's anything and everything. It's anything that football touches, and that's everything in an organization, so it's dealing with ownership. It's dealing with the business side. Most importantly, obviously, football operations, but everything. You're a football organization, so everything touches that.

"I think the first job he's got is putting the team around him," Lynch continued. "I know Kwesi is open-minded, so I also have tremendous respect, as I know he does. The Vikings have been a good organization, a well-run organization, so I'm sure there's plenty of talented people there that he'll be open to, and I'm sure he's identified people he wants to bring with him, but then, more than anything, and Kwesi, I know, believes in this, too, because he watched Kyle and I do it. I think the most important thing he can do is establish that connection and relationship in time with whoever the coach is because that's critical."

When Adofo-Mensah was hired by Cleveland in 2020, it followed the Browns hiring former Vikings Offensive Coordinator Kevin Stefanski on Jan. 13 and Berry on Jan. 28.

Adofo-Mensah explained the following "critical, core values" he believes are essential.

"Leadership – I think that word gets thrown around a lot, but to me it's just, how do you get the collective to put aside the individual for the sake of the whole? And really motivate people. Football, it's long. They come in August and they stay, and it's days of drills, and how do you get people to embrace those tasks and grow every day and grow and keep working toward that common goal?

"Vision – really understanding and knowing what you want to be on the field. Ability to communicate with different people. There's so many different backgrounds on a football team. Really being able to relate and be authentic to people. I think you need to be able to get through to people in an authentic way. And, really, withstand the ups and downs of the NFL season. Like you said, there's going to be close losses, tough moments – how do you respond to them? Are you accountable about mistakes? Are you always looking elsewhere?

"And then obviously, just that sound football philosophy. Really understanding how interconnected football is on the field, in the front office, and really, coming up with a plan along with me and making that happen."

He repeatedly reinforced the organization's commitment to collaboration as the Vikings search committee proceeds with the former interviewee now a member.

"I mean, if you know me, whether I say that I make the decision or not, it's going to be a collaborative process," Adofo-Mensah said. "I'm always about different viewpoints, different ideas. Not to be all algorithms of life, but you find that the best decision-making engines combine information that isn't related to each other but related to the thing you're trying to find. So, what it's really saying is, you want information that covers the blind spots of the other things.

"Any decision-making room I'm in, I'm always seeking the other opinion, trying to put everything together, and then, come out on the other end," he added.