Trent Baalke Is Your New GM
|Meet your new GM!|
The so-called exhaustive search included four candidates not with the team, plus Baalke. Of them, apparently only Michael Lombardi was a legitimate contender, and - if you believe the reports - only because he potentially had an even better chance of landing coaching candidate Jim Harbaugh.
Sooooo....a few things:
The team's exhaustive search ended before candidates from the most successful teams - that is, each and every one that made the playoffs this year - could be interviewed. This in turn means a few things:
- The 49ers knew that not a single good candidate from those franchises would be interested in the GM job (seems unlikely, and sad). I wouldn't mind having someone from the Steelers, Patriots, Eagles, Falcons, Ravens - should I go on? - have the chance for the job. Jed decided not to interview any of them.
- The team had already decided - before the GM hire - that Harbaugh should be the next coach, and didn't think he'd wait until early February or later, after playoff team candidates would be free, to get an offer.
- The team never really considered any candidate besides Baalke, and the "search" was just window dressing.
The answer, I believe, is a combination of #2 and #3. I don't have a problem with #2 - though, as Ray Ratto pointed out, why bother with the veil of "the GM will pick the Head Coach" if that's not the intent? It's fine to say that you'll have input into the head coaching hire (many franchises do this), but to lie about it sort of suggests that you know that's the right approach, but can't live up to that aspiration.
|OK, this is actually Baalke.|
Baalke may well turn out to be a fine GM; Trent Dilfer was recently raving about him on KNBR, and he actually seems to be pretty fair (in the same interview, he bashed more than a few friends of his, like Alex Smith). And, if Harbaugh is the right guy at Head Coach, it's going to be more than okay -- Baalke is clearly a good scout and I have no issues with him managing the draft. But can he actually run an organization?
Again, if Harbaugh gets wins on the field, it will sort itself out. But, here's the thing -- Harbaugh seems incredibly qualified, but he's never been a Head Coach in the NFL. (In his favor, he'd likely bring over much of his staff from Stanford, many of who have been coordinators in the NFL.) While it's clear that Harbaugh can actually coach (that is, he's not just an ex-player like one Mr. Singletary), I'd feel more comfortable pairing an unseasoned coach with a seasoned General Manager, who truly ran the organization. That's not what appears to be happening.
|Jed York has yet to prove he isn't in over his head.|
Why Jed York wants to stick with Baalke is another decision entirely. His uncle, former owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., is supposedly Jed's confidante - DeBartolo was on KNBR a month or two ago, and stated that the team's biggest issue was a need to get a "football guy" running the team, and to streamline the management organization. Keeping things in place - if that's what ends up happening - doesn't address any of this. None. I have no reason to trust Jed over Eddie, so this gives me a bit of concern.
|Paging Jim Harbaugh...|
Here's another question - what if Harbaugh ends up, er, balking? (Sorry, I had to.) This actually was the spin going round all of a week ago; while I doubt that's going to happen, then the team is truly lost, and seemingly without a plan at all.
If, instead of Baalke, there was a serious football executive, one with prior command and experience of running successful franchises at the helm, the loss of Harbaugh wouldn't really be devastating.
That factor alone makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with Jed York.
The word on the street is that Harbaugh will sign with the team in the next few days. Stay tuned.