On Monday March 22nd, 2010 San Francisco 49ers President Jed York announced the official departure of San Francisco 49ers General Manager Scot McCloughan. It was like a deafening blindside shot to the side of the head as the approaching 2010 NFL Draft draws nearer with very important first round draft picks the 49ers hold the very future of their franchise within their hands. This is the off-season that Scot our man in charge of player personnel since 2005 has always worked his magic in delivering calculated and precision like talent to a team starving to reach the playoffs.
With the 49ers holding the 13th and 17th picks in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft it becomes very critical that the 49ers front office be united in who they pick via their war room as the board dictates to them who are the best players available. Scot came to the 49ers when they hired head coach Mike Nolan in 2005 to take over a devastated organization from the general manager on down to the coaching staff. Nolan brought McCloughan in as his Vice President of Player Personnel and eventually he became the 49ers general manager in 2008 after the fall of Mike Nolan and the rise of Mike Singletary.
He has been nothing but a breath of fresh air to this organization from his professional mannerisms to his distinct knack of identifying great football talent as a long time scout and eventual director of that department over the course of his career in pro football. Still the fact remains that the 49ers have not returned to their playoff winning ways that are but a distant memory for so many of the 49er faithful. The personnel that Scot has found and is being cultivated on this current 49ers roster have been nothing short of a great accomplishment. The 49ers have been infused with an energetic youth that is transforming the team into an eventual contender along with a smart business approach of tying up the key players that hold the cornerstones to the infrastructure of this roster as well. We have become salary cap healthy once again, which has permitted us to make sound investments and more manageable contracts.
One can think that losing Scot is no big deal we will move forward and his legacy will live on within the organization, and yet others will signal that this creates a power vacuum within the front office and it distracts our main focus which should be directed towards our up and coming draft. I choose to side with the moving on point and trusting the competent staff that Scot has surrounded himself with in director of player personnel Trent Baalke and director of pro personnel Tom Gamble.
The departure of Scot McCloughan is a personal one and not a professional one. From all intents and purposes via the media and league sources he is now going through a divorce with his wife. Life throws the curve ball at you from time to time and this time it happens to be Scot on the receiving end. He leaves with a sense of remorse and an unfinished agenda he started here, but at the same time he acknowledges that the staff he helped assemble prior to this situation will maintain his agenda and make the necessary adjustments to land the talent that best represents our approach as a team first identity that Mike Singletary has instilled within the frameworks of this roster.
Trent Baalke, Scot's direct assistant as director of player personnel will take over as "acting general manager to oversee this draft according to 49ers President Jed York." Not only will he be the point man for this draft but he'll have the final word as well as described by Jed York. Trent was promoted recently back in 2008 from the scouting department to take over as director of player personnel where he was since 2005. Baalke has worked in the scouting departments of the Washington Redskins (2001-04) and New York Jets (1998-2000). 49ers President Jed York in a recent radio interview expressed deep remorse over the departure of what he considers a true friend in Scot McCloughan and refused repeatedly to divulge any information he may have had on his personal reasons for parting ways with the 49ers. York also indicated that the 49er draft board was already 90-95% complete by the time Scot had determined to part ways with the 49ers.
Underneath Trent Baalke there are even more competent evaluators in pro personnel director Tom Gamble who has been with the 49ers over the past five years and prior to that was a college scout for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998-2004. His name is rumored to be a leading one for a future general manager. Scot's brother David McCloughan rounds out the office as director of college scouting for the 49ers. The "mutual parting of the ways," as Jed York chose his words for Scot comes at a time of great anxiety for the San Francisco 49ers and its fans that have long awaited a chance at achieving a moment in history. There are many reports and early indications that the 49ers under Jed York may not even name or look for a potential general manager over the long term as right now there is no need to be concerned with it.
Scot's existing two years on his general manager contract prohibit him from joining any other NFL team before the draft. The general manager position will remain vacant for as long as Jed York would like and or until he finds a legitimate candidate to fill that role. Mike Singletary's role will be more significant according to President Jed York, which is already being identified as he serves as a lead scout as of late under Trent Baalke on various occasions thus far on the off-season. Some are saying in various circles that the door remains open for Scot McCloughan to somehow solve his personal matters within a designated time frame and will be permitted to comeback as the 49er general manager at some perceived point in time?
The emergency contingency plan that has been implemented by San Francisco 49er President Jed York seems to be working. It has all the reason to do so because the same personnel remains intact that was the moving parts behind General Manager Scot McCloughan to begin with. Trent Baalke is also rumored to be general manager type material and should he do a "bang-up job with this draft that is fast approaching," it would be a potential feather in his cap to seek consideration for the coveted job that now remains vacant.
Like Mike Singletary was with Mike Nolan and was promoted, it may result with Trent Baalke being promoted as the 49ers are starting to set an agenda with Jed York by looking, "in-house for potential promotional candidates as they need them." Jed's ears and eyes will be on both Trent Baalke and Tom Gamble as they prepare for the intricacies of the draft and execute with making those treasured picks that could turn players into diamonds and Vince Lombardi trophies of the future.
Still there is reason for Jed York to look outside the box as well, securing a known name that is well entrenched within the league already that would provide instant security to a front office that is constantly buzzing with turmoil as of late. It will be a true test to Jed's young leadership to sort through this front office crossword puzzle of sorts over the next several months and assure all 49er fans that he has everything well under control and that the main focal point of our organization is to seek the playoffs.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.