In a move many expected, The San Francisco 49ers announced today that Trent Baalke has been named Vice President of Player Personnel. They also announced that Joel Patton has been named Director of College Scouting, and Bob Morris has been hired as the new scout for the South region.

Baalke's promotion is not a surprise. He was instrumental in leading what many analysts saw as a successful draft as well as the pre-draft acquisition of Ted Ginn.

Two things jump out at me about the move. First, Baalke is not being granted the title of General Manager, the position Scot McCloughan had before he left the team before this year's draft. He instead fills the position McCloughan held in 2005 when he was hired with Mike Nolan.

What this means for the front office structure is still unclear. In 2005 the 49ers moved away from a strong GM, a response to the Terry Donahue era. With McCloughan, the 49ers seemed to move back to a more traditional General Manager model. Whether this is an interim step or an "audition" before Baalke is handed the GM reins is unclear.

It is also significant that the 49ers did not feel the need to move outside the organization to fill the top position in the personnel department. Strong organizations promote from within, keeping a consistent culture as well as consistent processes. The 49ers front office is arguably one of the strongest parts of the franchise and quality internal promotions indicate well-functioning structures.

UPDATE 1:

Matt Maiocco posted a great article talking about how the "Rooney Rule" pretty much prevents Baalke from a promotion to GM. I'm all for minority candidates, but this situation only highlights the problems with the current rule. No one wants to be the "token" interview.

UPDATE 2:

According to the NFL, the 49ers complied with the Rooney Rule. If I understand correctly, this means the 49ers could have promoted Baalke to the GM role as they interviewed minority candidates, removing any potential procedural barriers to Baalke's promotion. The candidates who were interviewed requested anonymity.