GM of the weekend (tie): Trent Baalke, San Francisco; Buddy Nix, Buffalo. I detailed Baalke's multiple moves to set up the Niners as a power player in the 2013 draft. And getting LaMichael James late in the second round gives Jim Harbaugh the home-run back he hasn't had in an offense that needs a threat like that. As for Nix, who rebuilt his defensive end position in free agency (Mario Williams, Mark Anderson), he bought a new secondary over the weekend, with first- and fourth-round corners (Stephon Gilmore and Ron Brooks) who will become starting and nickel corners, respectively.
I love what the 49ers did late Friday night and Saturday.
To become a great general manager, you have to be willing to take some chances. You have to be willing, on draft day, to make decisions that can impact your team for the next few years, positively or negatively. You have to have the courage of your convictions that if you trade down and lose the player you wanted in the first place, you'll be OK with that; the risk was worth it.
That happened to San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke late Friday night, as the third round was winding down. The 49ers had the 29th pick in the round, the 92nd pick overall. They liked a guard from Wake Forest named Joe Looney. Baalke knew the Niners liked Looney better than a lot of teams. He knew he might be able to get Looney in the fourth round. Might. No guarantees. And if he lost him, Baalke felt fine going with the next man on the board. So when the Colts called looking for a late-third-round pick, Baalke traded 92 to the Colts for the 97th pick and Indy's fifth-round pick in 2013.
On Saturday, at the start of round four, Baalke still thought he could wait for Looney. He dealt 97 to Miami for the Dolphins' fourth-round pick, 103 overall, plus the 196th pick and a sixth-round pick in 2013. At 103, Looney was still there. San Francisco was picking 125th. Dare Baalke wait? Carolina came calling for the 103rd pick, and Baalke dealt that pick for the 180th in this draft and a third-round pick in 2013.
Tick. Tick. Tick. No guards went from 103 to 111, and Chicago was a candidate, but the Bears passed on the line, as did Arizona at 112, and now Baalke was pressing the outer limits, and he picked up the phone and made a deal with Detroit, trading up eight spots from 125 to 117 and throwing in the Miami pick acquired an hour earlier (196) in order to draft Looney ... 25 picks after the Niners were going to take him at 92.
So at the end of the dealing, the Niners got their man. And they got this:
• The 180th pick in 2012 -- Michigan State free safety Trenton Robinson.
• Carolina's third-round pick in 2013.
• Indianapolis' fifth-round pick in 2013.
• Miami's sixth-round pick in 2013.
Along with a seventh-round pick in 2013 from Cincinnati in the Taylor Mays trade, and likely compensatory picks for losing guard Adam Snyder and wide receiver Josh Morgan in free agency, San Francisco now sits with a projected 13 picks in the 2013 draft, the most of any team in the league.
"I'd be lying to suggest building up that many picks was our intention at the start of it,'' Baalke told me Saturday night. "But we were able to turn the pick over three times and get our guy, plus five picks [four, after the deal with Detroit]. So it worked out. We're not trying to win in the court of public opinion, or win in the media. We're trying to win games over the long haul and build a team for sustained success.''
That's precisely the kind of deal that helps a team win over the long haul.
[ Edited by genz22 on Apr 30, 2012 at 7:45 AM ]