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My Official Apology to Trent Baalke

Mar 4, 2012 at 8:29 PM


"Oh, sure, there are signs of danger. Despite Jed's plan for a 'search,' he'll consider Trent Baalke, otherwise known as the cheap and easy internal promotion...." December 28, 2010

Please, Trent, try to understand.

After nearly a decade of misery, this franchise was desperate—desperate—for a strong and proven front-office executive. Our most recent general manager, like our most recent head coach, had been promoted from within this dysfunctional organization. He was inexperienced, but he wouldn't question the Yorks' authority. And the results, of course, were disastrous. Now, Jed implied that he'd learned his lesson. Since you'd been serving "sort of in a GM-like role," you'd get the courtesy of an interview. But Jed's sights were set much higher. He vowed to "go out and look at a lot of other people that have been there, that have done that before," and he assured us that "[m]oney is no object."

So Jed spoke to various notables, raising hope that he might be serious. But naturally, it was just a sham. All along, the job was yours; the "runner-up," a strong and proven outsider, knew right away. In the end, we were left with the same cheap and easy internal promotion, but now it was wrapped in a package of lies.

Needless to say, I doubted you.

And I'd go on to doubt you, each step of the way.

"If Baalke's unqualified to evaluate coaches, and if he's overrated at evaluating players, how on earth will he land a top coach?" January 4, 2011

Your first assignment, of course, was to hire Jim Harbaugh. Everyone knew he was perfect for us, with his genius in general and his Walsh roots in particular. But he could wait for a job that was perfect for him, and how could this one possibly be? Certainly, a fish his size would want to run his own organization; and even if he were willing to join someone else's, that someone else would have to be an established winner. And you, of course, were not. You hadn't run a football operation, much less a winning one. Indeed, you hadn't even been part of a winning one, in any capacity, in more than a decade. Why would Harbaugh sign on with you?

Even now, it isn't clear. Maybe he was swayed by your vision, captivated by your grand design. But maybe you didn't matter at all. Maybe he just wanted to stay on Walsh's trail. Or maybe he just wanted to satisfy his wife, who didn't want to go house-hunting.

On the day he arrived, I was tempted to trust you. I mean, if Harbaugh did, why shouldn't I? But it wasn't enough. There were too many possibilities here, too many variables. On the one hand, you might've proven yourself. On the other, you might've just gotten lucky.

You'd earned some rope, without a doubt. But you'd have to prove yourself again.

"Beyond quarterback, our greatest needs were corner and pass-rusher. Having already chosen a defensive end as an outside 'backer, Baalke decided to bring in a safety and stick him at corner. (And we needn't discuss the offensive tackles who'll move to guard or the defensive end who'll play as a fullback.) Obviously, that's a whole lot of projects, and they'll keep the pressure squarely on Baalke. He didn't do much to quiet the doubts about whether he's truly got what it takes...." May 3, 2011

So we moved to the draft. And what was I supposed to think? That things were going well? In round one, you were visibly pissed when you lost out on Patrick Peterson, and you were even more visibly pissed when you couldn't trade down. And then you picked Aldon Smith, noting that he was "certainly going to be raw when it comes to playing on his feet and learning his [new] position." Continuing on the theme, you went on to add a half-dozen other projects, rolling the dice on athletic measurables instead of going with proven production. Harbaugh's coaching would help, of course, but this class couldn't possibly make an impact soon, if indeed it ever would. For the sake of argument, I put together my own draft, and I dared your guys to do better than mine.

And they did, by a mile.

Though Smith indeed showed nothing at outside 'backer—he played maybe a dozen snaps there all year—he became one of the league's best pass-rushers anyway. He racked up 14 sacks, more than Sam Acho and Pernell McPhee combined, and he was a popular choice for defensive rookie of the year. Chris Culliver, the pick of whom sent me over the edge, looked at least as good as Prince Amukamara (who, in fairness, missed half the year with a broken foot). Kendall Hunter was a perfect change-of-pace back, while Jordan Todman was waived. Bruce Miller became the versatile West Coast fullback we've needed forever, while Owen Marecic's reviews were decidedly mixed. And all this while the star attraction, Colin Kaepernick, waits in the wings.

There's risk in judging a draft too early; some observers wait three years. But to wait on my concession would be to deny the reason for my doubt in the first place. I doubted your draft because I saw no way that it could make an immediate impact. Yet your draft had a more immediate impact than any other draft in the league.

In other words, you proved yourself. Again.

"Harbaugh was told that 'we're close,' that he would put us over the top. Instead, no matter which of the remaining free-agent scraps we pick up, Baalke's stuck him with a rebuilding project, likely the Niners' worst roster in years...." July 31, 2011

Yet it was in free agency that you made me look my absolute worst. I admit it, I panicked; but try to understand. The centerpiece of your strategy, or so you said, was to keep our own guys. David Baas and Dashon Goldson were the most important of those guys, and you let 'em both go (at least initially). Then you let three more guys go, leaving backups at four positions. And then, despite having warned us that you wouldn't pursue many "high-end" free agents, you pursued some of the very highest, and didn't land a single one.

So, when you had the audacity to assert that you were "executing the plan," I pretty much lost it.

Let's not pretend that you executed Plan A; we know that Plan A revolved around Matt Hasselbeck and Nnamdi Asomugha. But an executive often proves his worth not when things go right, but when they go wrong. And your Plan B was magnificent.

Your dominance of free agency's second wave looked impressive immediately, but no one—not even you, I daresay—could've imagined how great it would look on the field. With three Pro Bowlers leading the way (including Goldson, who came crawling back), you satisfied our every need. Only Braylon Edwards was a bust, but he was an injury bust more than anything else. Oh, and those backups you installed? Upgrades, each and every one.

For a third time, I doubted you. And for a third time, you delivered.

"I'm still not sure I trust Trent Baalke. But I can't deny it.... I'm excited for this season again...." August 7, 2011

And during that season, it all came together. With the roster you'd assembled, the coach you'd hired went on to produce our most stirring season in 30 years. But as much as I appreciate that season—I can even (almost) stomach how it ended—what's more exciting still is that this organization is primed to sustain, simply because of the men who are running it. Downstairs, the unanimous Coach of the Year. And upstairs, the not-quite-unanimous Executive of the Year. Incredibly, you.

As we stand on the eve of a new league year, you face a difficult series of tasks. You know what you have to do. Re-sign Carlos Rogers, to complete the restoration of last year's D. Re-sign Josh Morgan, and add three new receivers to boot. Re-sign Ted Ginn, and, please, get a competent backup. And yeah, I'll just say it: re-sign Alex Smith. All while adding depth at every level.

That's a lot of work, to say the least.

A year ago, I wouldn't have thought you'd be able to do it. I'm not apologizing for doubting you; under the circumstances, I think my doubt was reasonable. But I persisted, no matter how many times you succeeded. I doubted your coaching search. I doubted your draft. I doubted your free agents. I said you'd failed, "just like that." And that's why I apologize. Not for doubting. But for being wrong.

You've got a lot of work to do. Yet I know you'll succeed.

Because now I'm sure. Now, I trust you.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


55 Comments

  • Joe
    Obviously there is a reason youre not a GM for an NFL team... enjoy your armchair.
    Mar 14, 2013 at 2:23 PM
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  • Shane
    Jeff, this is one of the craziest offseasons in my memory. Now Timmy Tebow, UHHH.... hmmmm smells like time for an article with your thoughts on the madness haha.
    Mar 20, 2012 at 10:46 AM
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    Response: Soon, Shane....
  • Chris
    Williams is a competent backup. His fumbles in the championship game were deadly but should not be the comparison of his talent and career. Williams shouldn't have even been returning punts in that game in the first place. And he was the number 2 receiver in that game. Yes you should be ready when your name is called but your roster should also have at LEAST three to four receivers ready to play. Ginn should've sucked up the injury and played so Williams could focus his talents/expertise on playing receiver, not receiver and returning kick-offs and punts. No way we should only have two active receivers in the NFC championship game. Team wins and loses together. Also, Alex Smith had a great year with a dwindling receiving corps--One game away from the Superbowl.
    Mar 16, 2012 at 5:10 AM
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  • stefano
    jw jeff where ur posts gonna be this year when we dont go 13-3 or on a 8 game win streak. please dont tell me youl go back to your 2010 posts cuz so far your posts reflect our wins/losses at the moment. sry u can be all hate an say im bein negative but theres a differenc between bein negative an bein realistic. we dont get positive posts from here until we get multiple wins.
    Mar 13, 2012 at 9:46 AM
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    Response: Once again, Stefano, I will give you my honest opinion. Whether you think it's unduly "positive" or "negative" is up to you, and completely meaningless to me.
  • louie
    Jeff, I agree that, it appears, Baalke has made some very good, smart moves and hopefully he'll continue to perform as a very good GM. But I don't think an apology was necessary. There were plenty of reasons why anyone (including me) would doubt that anything good would come of the Yorks' ownership. Fortunately, things might have really turned around and credit is due to all, especially Harbaugh and his staff. But after the circus we've had to endure I say no to an apology. On another note, I disagree with you having no concern over the running game next year. In the fourth quarter of the Championship Game they didn't use Gore, even though he was having a good game statistically and Alex was not performing well. During the game he pulled himself out a few times when they really needed him. Gore is old and injury-prone, and Hunter, while effective, is not the answer as an every-down replacement, and there's really no other option on the roster. Look for a free-agent signing or a high (2nd or 3rd round} draft pick being used on a running back.
    Mar 11, 2012 at 4:59 PM
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  • Zach Ameen
    I think it is too soon to apologize. We are already seeing that he is blundering by not pursuing Manning. I don't believe that Alex Smith can take us to the Super Bowl. He is very similar in qualities if you compare him to Trent Dilfer.
    Mar 9, 2012 at 6:04 AM
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    Response: There are two problems with that logic, Zach. First, Trent Dilfer WON a Super Bowl. And second, if not for Kyle Williams, Smith would've taken us to the Super Bowl already. Assuming that Smith can continue to improve, I find it difficult to justify rolling the dice on Manning's creaky neck.
  • Chris Platt
    Horner you're a mess bro. Lol, what are you reading? All I'm saying is there is a certain arrogance to most sportswriters and if you're going to criticize an athlete or franchise, do it with some humility. If you'd like an example, read a few articles by Peter Gammons. There's a reason he is so well respected by athletes. And yes, I did say that Kaplan did a 180 as the season wore on. The guy dumped on SF all offseason, including Smith, and then lo and behold, Baalke knew what he was doing. Lastly, K Evans hit the nail on the head earlier, scroll down and read what he posted and that sums up Kaplan's apology letter.
    Mar 8, 2012 at 7:46 PM
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  • Shane
    hahahahaha it's what we are famous for out here!... proud to be an old-school fan brother, keep up the great work. GO 9ERS!!
    Mar 8, 2012 at 7:13 PM
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  • Hallelujah
    The lesson to take from this is that Jeff Kaplan, no matter how many apology letters he writes, doesn't understand the game of football and has no business writing for a fan site.
    Mar 8, 2012 at 6:25 PM
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  • Lucky Phil
    I agree Jeff, I think Mike Wallace is intriguing. And something the Niners definitely have to consider. But ultimately this signing depends on the value the Steelers place on Wallace. If the market value for MW is 10 mil/yr., the Niners' offer of 7 mil/yr. plus the first rd. pick to the Steelers might be enough. I think the Steelers would go for it (Steelers got MW for a 3 rd. pick). I would be interested to see if Baalke would go for it. I'm not so sure. I'm more interested in building a stable of receivers like the Packers. I would sign Meachem and Morgan and draft two wr's from a group of T Streeter, Marvin Jones, M Sanu, D Coale, and TJ Graham. I prefer the half-dozen for the price of one!
    Mar 7, 2012 at 7:10 PM
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  • Lucky Phil
    Jeff, with all due respect, if you want Mike Wallace in compensation for our first rd pk. and trust that Baalke agrees, I think you're wrong. I may be missing your sarcasm, I'm not sure. But I don't think Baalke will agree to a big contract and loss of a first rd pick for any free agent wide receiver. He's very frugal with niner money and I don't believe he would give any player close to market money and lose the first rd pk. I know we are competing only with the Steelers and our first rounder is nice compensation for letting him go. But I don't think this will happen. I do agree with you, though, that we need someone exactly like him. Through the draft Steven Hill and Tommy Streeter (sleeper) might also fill that need. By the way Jeff, after your draft last yr. I think it's safe to say TB and you won't be agreeing on much this year. (Just rubbing it in) LOL.
    Mar 7, 2012 at 5:19 PM
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    Response: Oh, I was serious, Phil. Assuming we re-sign everyone, a deep-threat receiver (or two) is our only serious need, and we could get the best in the NFL for pick #30? It's virtually certain that Wallace would be vastly better than any rookie we'd take with that pick. Sure, we'd have to lay out some dough, and I know that Baalke doesn't want to break the bank; but on the other hand, I'm sure those weren't peanuts he was throwing at Hasselbeck and Asomugha last year. That is to say, he's willing to pay for a big fish when the fit is right. And to me this move makes a perfect fit. But this time around, if Baalke thinks he's got a better idea, I'll be giving him the benefit of the doubt.
  • M. Horner
    So, Chris, it sounds like you like your columnists to be boring, is that it? And was I misreading you when you said that you noticed that Jeff's columns started to become positive when the 49ers started winning? I can understand if you're embarrassed that you wrote that, but don't deny that you said it. Your argument is so tired. So movie reviewers have to write with humility if they haven't made a movie? Book reviewers have to write with humility if they haven't written a book? I can't call Sarah Palin what she is if I haven't run for office? What nonsense. Have you ever complained that AJ Bolino didn't write with sufficient humility when writing one of his puff pieces about how great Alex is? Didn't think so. I guess you only have to have been an NFL QB to offer a negative evaluation but not a positive one. I find it interesting that you're such an ardent reader of Kaplan's stuff if you don't think he has anything worthwhile to say.
    Mar 7, 2012 at 3:49 PM
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  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Chris P I have a couple of comments for you. First, just so I can understand your point of view: You list all the writers you don't like, well who do you like? I would just like to know what your basis of comparison is. Second, you use as an example how everyone bashes Alex Smith (I happen to agree with you on that point). However, I don't remember Kaplan ever bashing Smith. He may have made a comment here and there about how maybe the Niners could do better at QB, but I certainly would not call him an Alex hater. Third, you say that he writes with arrogance. Well, I can tell you that the above article is a very humble article admitting a mistake and I believe that it truly comes from the heart and that my friend is called integrity. Please don't take this wrong but someone could say that your comments are negative and arrogant. I won't go that far because I think you mean well, but it might be something for you to think about.
    Mar 7, 2012 at 11:25 AM
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  • Chris Platt
    Horner, you obviously didn't read what I wrote. I stated that I have no problem with a journalist disagreeing with something and writing about it. My problem is with the way it is written. He writes his pieces with an air of superiority and acts like coaching and playing QB in the NFL is a piece of cake. Like running an organization is like a franchise on Madden. A la Skip Bayless, a la Bill Plaschke, a la Rick Reilly. They never played! But they sit there with their nose in the air and scoff at guys like it's nothing. Then when they're wrong they write things like this and you guys eat it up. Kaplan can write all he wants about playing QB and evaluate Alex Smith until the cows come home, but do so from a place of humility. That's my beef Horner. But from my perspective, most of the fans like yourself can't wrap your brains around that. When Alex Smith began his turnaround, all I heard was a bunch of haters. Even at the beginning of the season. I didn't see one fan just plain old happy for a guy that took all that crap for 7 seasons. Not a one. That unfortunately is the culture we live in. And Kaplan knows that most fans are black and white and fail to see the bigger picture.
    Mar 7, 2012 at 8:47 AM
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  • Shane
    Jeff, it's great to see you back. I'm obviously a huge fan and really appreciate your honesty on the team and its issues as well as your high quality of writing. moreover, because you are an objective fan that talks reality, this will more often than not piss off most other fans, especially over a dismal stretch like we went through, yet you stayed true to the facts. true fans really appreciate that, so welcome back. As someone mentioned, it takes a lot of balls to admit you're wrong, but hey everyone is wrong from time to time and i would argue who can blame you for being skeptical!!?? This team had been a train wreck for years, almost a decade. Then all of a sudden we are supposed to believe this unknown is the answer. The way i see it, he did a good job and the skeptics were wrong but to those who follow blindly and were "right", i guess you were wrong about Erickson, Nolan, Sing, and all the decisions that came with those years. let's all be happy and move forward and cheers to 2012!
    Mar 7, 2012 at 8:40 AM
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    Response: Thanks, Shane, perhaps my first fan ever, and a frequent visitor to the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum.
  • Sid
    No worries then. I now get what you are doing because to be very honest, it was not clear to me before. Like you said, "so many readers have seemed so confused about what it is [you're] trying to do." Now that I know, I know when to read your pieces and when not to. It's easy for me since I have been a 49ers fan since the early 80's. When I want to read a passionate fan's take, I'll check out what you have to say. I know I will likely disagree with you quite a bit, but that's beside the point. And while I think you could write as a journalist if you wanted, I will stick to Maiocco, Barrows, Kawakami, Grant C, Lynch, etc. I always thought webzone would be a good way for a fan to write like a journalist or analyst without the access to the organization. It would still be reactionary but a different take. If not you, then maybe someone else. I would sure like to myself but I don't know the inner workings of webzone. Thanks for the long response. It was not necessary but it is appreciated for whatever that's worth. Cheers and here's to positivity because the Niners better stay on the right track. I guess we'll start again next week with free agency.
    Mar 6, 2012 at 9:50 PM
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  • RamItOn
    You've got some balls on you, Jeff; that was a pretty introspective and sincere apology. I think many of us Webzoners should sign our names at the bottom of your letter, as I shared many of your opinions (especially with the promotion of Baalke and the subsequent wiffing on the top tier of free agents in 2011). Also, why the confusion regarding whether or not your writing is that of a bona-fide journalist or a commentator? Does it matter either way? I mean, if your writing is easily read (it is), makes sense (it does), and causes one to critically think (it most certainly does), why the persistent attempts to pigeonhole your writing? I think the more important question concerns whether or not you are the kind of lawyer who chases ambulances and drives up health care costs with frivolous lawsuits :) Good day, Jeff. Don't stop writing. We love it!
    Mar 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM
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    Response: You get me, Ram. Thanks. (And no, I can honestly say I'm one of the good guys!)
  • Sid
    Kaplan, can you clarify if you are trying to write from the perspective of a fan or as an objective journalist? From what I have read over the years, it seems that you were a vocally pissed off fan. Most of your articles were Monday morning quarterback pieces that were essentially reactionary. So then, it makes sense if you are negative when the team fails or happy when the team succeeds. There's nothing inflammatory in that statement - it just is what it is as someone else pointed out. What I would ask of you is to write more like a journalist, especially now that there seems to be a semblance of balance in the front office. Forget about everything you have written in the past and forgiving this person or admitting to that. Just write about the team and give a balanced perspective. Here's a suggestion - how about writing about what has changed with the 49ers ever since Jed York was given the title of President. After all, that is where this entire transition started. And when free agency rolls around next week, try to look at it from the perspective of a GM and not a fan. Because we all know what we feel as fans but it would be good to compare to the org in balance.
    Mar 6, 2012 at 12:12 PM
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    Response: One of the most interesting things about my experience here has been the fact that so many readers have seemed so confused about what it is I'm trying to do. Am I an objective reporter or an opinionated columnist? Am I being negative just to be inflammatory, or am I just a critical thinker? Just what the hell am I up to, anyway?! It's really quite simple, Sid. I'm a lifelong Niner fan, and my only agenda is a desire to see the Niners win. When they win, I will be positive; I think this season I've proven that. But I'm constitutionally incapable of thoughtless cheerleading; so, when I think that the Niners are on the wrong track, I will say so: not to inflame you, but because it's how I truly feel. Sometimes I'm right (as I was throughout the previous coaching regime), and sometimes I'm wrong (as I was about Baalke). But I will not waste your time or mine by saying what I don't believe. I know that my style of fandom isn't for everyone, but as you said, "it just is what it is." But that's ALL that it is. I'm just a fan, and I've been lucky enough to have this platform from which to tell you how I see it. I'm going to continue to do so, and though I'm grateful that you take the time to read and to respond, you're also more than welcome to go somewhere else.
  • Stefano
    nice little redemption article jeff but unlike most of the people commenting here, i was here last year and before last season when you were saying the things above and being that negative. it's obvious you just know how to put together an internet article but i'm not sure if all these people commenting here were there to see the articles you were putting out before our win streaks, before we went 14-4. Nothing but negativity. No faith. No support. No hope or belief in our beloved football organization, the greatest in the nfl. I'm still shocked to this day, even though it's not an official website, that they would let someone who sounded like a cowboy fan post articles on the site. no matter what good we did, no matter how much closer we got to success, you always had the comments of ya we're still gonna suck, ya we're still bad, they'll still mess up. man i'm only in my 20s and even i could see from the actions right from singletary's firing we were on our way back to the top. all you had to do was look and listen. yet here's someone that can post on one of their sites and all they have to say IS THE OPPOSITE OF WHATEVER IS GOOD. not trying to bash but it is what it is. at least u admitted it. good job. and i too read the comments below. no matter how positive you wanna be the reality is there...kaplan's articles got better and better as the team got more and more wins. go look at them kids if you want the proof. it is what it is, sorry we live in reality. game by game he finally started admitting we were good. who wants a columnist who has to see 8-win streaks just to admit his team is good. before that about every article was bashing everything about the niners. just doesn't make sense that no matter how long it's been you now try to write about the same team saying all the opposite things. sry jeff it sounds like i'm majorly hating and that's not how i mean it, but there's just some confused people here. but u did the right thing here with this article. keep it up, you're a great writer, that's why i love this site.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 9:58 PM
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  • Matt
    Please. McCloughan's title changed but his role as the top personnel executive did not. You are trying to make it sound like he was a cheap hire because he worked his way up through the organization, which is completely false. Contrary to what you wrote, McCloughan was an experienced personnel man when he got the job and his hire was heralded by most as a very good choice at the time. You are trying to rewrite history for your own convenience.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 8:29 PM
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    Response: When McCloughan arrived as VP, he was beneath Nolan. When the Yorks got tired of Nolan, they wanted to put a GM above him. They didn't look outside for a strong and proven top-executive. Instead, they just promoted McCloughan, to a post he'd never held before. I'm not sure which of these facts you don't remember.
  • Lucky Phil
    Entertaining article Jeff. It's nice to hear Baalke get some respect for the season we had last year. Harbaugh rightly deserves a lot of the press but TB had an amazing draft, free agency, and added key players like B. Costanzo, L. Grant, and T. Gooden that provided great depth at LB as well as making our special teams the best in the NFL. He also added Dobbs and Williams after the draft. There were so many moves and additions he made outside of free agency and the draft, we don't give this guy enough credit for the hard work and scouting talent this guy has. And he did it all for a team that was probably 20 mil. below the salary cap. If he makes the Herschel Walker trade with Crabtree I will put his picture on my living room wall. By the way Jeff, when are you putting together your 2012 49ers draft article? You had an off yr. last yr. but i'm hoping you write another article on your picks before draft day.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 8:00 PM
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    Response: Well, Phil, I already know who I want with our first-round pick: Mike Wallace. It's a no-brainer, and I "trust" that Baalke agrees.
  • The_Real_Randy
    I too must admit to being wrong about Baalke's decision making. But before you crown him there is one thing to keep in mind, he is still a Yorkie and the Yorks have used their GMs to bully coaches and slash the roster before. If there's one negative scenario I see for the 49ers going forward, it's that.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 6:46 PM
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  • M. Horner
    My God, Chris Platt, what piffle you've brought with you today. So Kaplan was negative when the 49ers sucked, but he's positive when they're good? That's what irks you? I certainly get that. I want to read a 49ers columnist who's positive about Nolan, Singletary, Donahue, etc., but negative about Harbaugh. And Kaplan can't write about playing QB in the NFL because he's never done so himself? Which webzone columnists do you like, Chris? Former NFL QBs Sydney Mayhew, AJ Bolino, and David Bonilla? If that's your criteria, you might as well leave webzone entirely and just follow Sean Salisbury. Or, if it doesn't have to be a QB, you can follow Emmitt Smith. He always has some insightful thoughts. I guess Mike Mayock, Trent Baalke, Bill Walsh, and countless others can't evaluate QBs either. You certainly make a lot of sense.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 3:00 PM
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  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Just keep writing buddy. We all went through pain, ecstasy, disappointment, and excitement with our beloved Niners thru the years and you described it better than anyone, making us feel better in the process. I don't want to hear the company line all the time. I want to hear the truth. Even though you were wrong about Baalke, so were many of us. Myself included. Keep up the good work and keep us on our toes.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 2:53 PM
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    Response: Thanks as always, Dallas.
  • Chris Platt
    I am not a fan of Kaplan, and I agree with the other Chris on here that this is a cop-out. Kaplan has done nothing but dump on the 49ers organization and their employees, past and present, at every turn. His articles grew more positive as, shockingly, we started winning. My issue with you Kaplan is not that you disagree with the front office or signings or whatever you're writing about. What I don't like about your articles is exactly what the previous Chris mentioned, you write them with an air of arrogance and superiority. The tone of your writing says that you know everything about everything when really you don't. You can't talk about what it's like to be in a foxhole when you've never been in a foxhole. You can't talk about playing QB in the NFL if you've never played QB in the NFL. There needs to be a level of humility in your articles, every great writer has it, and you don't. Not yet anyway.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 12:02 PM
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  • Jan
    Jeff, I'm a long-time reader of the zone although I have never commented before. Your articles, whether I agree with them or not, are always well written and well thought out. When I see your name, I make a point to read. Keep up the good work and thank you.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 11:49 AM
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    Response: And thank YOU, Jan.
  • Ninerminer81
    well put!
    Mar 5, 2012 at 10:31 AM
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  • Reecan
    Apologies are always nice to hear, but with the media it just seems to be a temporary stay before the crap starts again. There is nothing more irritating than a writer whose only physical sports exertion through school was running from bullies, yet they know everything there is about sports and have all the answers. I may suggest applying for a GM or Head Coaching job because of your vast knowledge of everything, then sit by your phone with great anticipation of an organization finally discovering you!
    Mar 5, 2012 at 9:28 AM
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  • Frank
    There were a lot of people who doubted Baalke...and even more surfaced during the draft. Too many of us are wont to put grades on drafts...based on what we think a certain player or players will do. The truth is, college tape, combines, pro days, et al only tell us (who think we know more than we do) so much. The real answer's in the detailed scouting...and what it means to the draft board. How will these newly selected players impact the roster? It seems Baalke/Harbaugh knew what they were doing. Good drafting's a partnership...between the head coach and the GM. Obviously, Baalke and Harbaugh have quite a partnership. Later when the short FA window opened up, many of us snorted "why are all the good players being signed by other teams?". Well, the truth is, they weren't...as we found out during our turnaround season. If they gave grades for finding diamonds in the rough, Baalke deserves an A. I really don't know the value of a public apology...but admitting you're wrong is usually the right thing to do.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 9:22 AM
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  • overthemiddle
    Jeff you did nothing wrong in being critical in your writings. I thought you were too tough sometimes but you were never wrong. With the track record of what the Niners have done your conclusions were easy to understand. I waited like lots of us for this past year and the NFC championship game. I came within 3 hours of gametime and I made a mistake. I fell and broke my leg and fractured my shoulder. While being transported by ambulance from one hospital to another I kept asking for a TV, of course none could be had. None in the emergency rooms and of course none in surgery. Needless to say I missed the game and I was pissed. I thought of you and how you would have blasted the medical profession for not providing the tools to quench my desire to watch the game. Where were you when I needed you? Thanks Jeff, keep on writing.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 9:03 AM
    0
    Response: Yikes, OTM, what a tale! Here's hoping you're fully recovered and safely able to enjoy a return trip to the playoffs next year.
  • Paul A.
    Jeff, you're a stand up man.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 8:43 AM
    0
  • Michael
    Kaplan, I'm certainly not a Chris but I have fired some downright combative emails your way in the past. You have shown, however, that you strive for what I think all of us strive for: the best we can be as either faithful 49er fans or good people in general. I cannot say that you haven't been a tad negative, sarcastic, or subjective in your posts over the years. But then again, so have 99% of the people who interject themselves into this forum that is our common bond. You have done something most do not (Chris and all other Chrises are you listening?), and that is to take accountability for your own actions. In our society, especially in the sport we all love so much, that very rarely happens. Even when it does happen, rarely is it contrite or sincere. Look forward to the next article and whether I agree with you or not, I'll trust you enough to give you the benefit of the doubt.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 8:24 AM
    0
    Response: Thanks, Michael.
  • K Evans
    Therapists often ask people, "Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?" 1) Happy: A simple admission you were wrong about every negative, inflammatory, poorly researched, speculative, and highly biased article you wrote. This would seem like a genuine apology, and a legitimate step forward in healing damaged relationships. 2) Desire to be right: An attempt to justify past actions, which when combined with an apology, more often than not makes the apology feel backhanded.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 7:58 AM
    0
  • GORO
    I felt Baalke deserved the GM job. I however doubted the draft he put together, but was comforted with the coaches' involvement in the choices. The 49ers exceeded all expectations and even with a tough 2012 schedule it helps to have hope because we have good men in management and as coaches of our team.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 7:22 AM
    0
  • Ryan
    Jeff, keep writing. I'm a fan - and it's good you apologized to Trent because it was a long time coming. All that said, anybody claiming that this was expected is a LIAR.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 7:17 AM
    0
    Response: You're always there for me, Ryan.
  • Dwestsider
    Screw what Chris said! You have perfectly articulated my feelings from last year! I was shocked when we got Harbaugh. Even then I thought it would be years before we could contend. In fact, it wasn't until we went into the bye week at 5-1 after the Detroit win that I allowed myself to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. So yes, I fully agree. The last 10 years were hard to get past, particularly the last three, when we were actually in position to make the playoffs, only to find ways to lose it all. But I now find myself where I used to be - actually EXPECTING to win every game. It's a beautiful place to be. And I'd like to thank Baalke and Harbaugh for that. Well said, Jeff!
    Mar 5, 2012 at 5:56 AM
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  • NavyNinerFan
    I remember reading your posts last offseason. You really had me scared at times. Getting Harbaugh right away put me somewhat at ease. Thank God you were wrong! I appreciate you putting this all in writing, but you know that in the future I will probably hope the Niners do the exact opposite of what you say! (just kidding...sort of)
    Mar 5, 2012 at 5:54 AM
    0
  • AJ Bolino
    Great read amigo. I get the impression that we're in for a really fun season. Is it August yet?
    Mar 5, 2012 at 5:47 AM
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  • ddmur
    All that any loyal fan can really do is trust and hope in the beginning when a new regime takes over. Sometimes that hope and trust is rewarded, but until last year, it had not been. Sadly, there were times over the last decade that it became obvious to the fan that the 49ers didn't know what they were doing. That is no longer the case. These guys are human beings, and they are going to make mistakes -- even Harbaugh. But I am fully confident that the team is going to be far, far, far better managed than if they put me in charge. Go niners!
    Mar 5, 2012 at 5:07 AM
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  • Francisco West
    Hey brotha.. I felt the exact same way...I still felt that way until the eagles game. In retrospect our season was set up for failure from the very end of last season. Baalke made all the right adjustments and had success. I can't wait for this year to finally start...well, free agency and the draft. That was a nice apology and it was well deserved. #Niner4Life
    Mar 5, 2012 at 4:11 AM
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  • XrayEcho
    I'm in agreement with Chris. I stopped reading your words of sarcasm and negativity long ago. I didn't waste my time reading this article either. Chris said in so many words what I've been meaning to say for a very long time. Thanks Chris.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 3:52 AM
    0
  • Trent Baalke
    Thank you.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 2:48 AM
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  • British9er
    Baalke, Harbaugh, and his coaches and players had an outstanding year. They all deserve the recognition, praise, and awards they have received for the 2011 season. Like most outstanding achievements this will have been the result of a lot of careful planning, execution, and changes of the plan and a lot of hard work and skill. There will also be a dose of good luck in there too. The mark of a great FO, HC, and team though is the ability to be consistently good over a sustained period. Any team can be lucky or find itself the beneficiary of external factors which work to their advantage. I tip my hat to the 49ers staff for 2011. I trust that both Baalke and Harbaugh would agree with me though that that was last season and they need to produce another year as good if not better. This starts with managing the salary cap carefully for 2012 and beyond during Free Agency.
    Mar 5, 2012 at 12:37 AM
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  • Adrian
    @ Chris: Geez, did you write hate mail to Kyle Williams too... simmer down big boy. Kaplan, while his articles in the past were a bit negative, has always added perspective and thought. His anger and negativeness stemmed from years of watching Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, and Mike Singletary run his beloved 49ers to the abyss. Honestly, I think Jeff is probably THE best writer that contributes to this site. If you don't like his work, don't read it. Oh, and Jeff, good to see you're back to writing!
    Mar 4, 2012 at 11:27 PM
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    Response: Nice of ya, Adrian.
  • Chris
    Response: Well, Chris, I sure am glad you don't believe in treating people in such a way. --- Fortunately I'm willing to make exceptions to those who were non-existent in both rationale, logic, courtesy, and substance prior to the fortunate days of now. It's easy to make broad and negative proclamations based on popular sentiments of fan bases; then simply apologize for their inaccuracy later. Try being original, and not superficial, as your sarcasm suggests.
    Mar 4, 2012 at 11:16 PM
    0
  • ezekiel40
    Because of the post by chris below, I felt compelled to say something. Jeff, you are the best writer on the zone bar none. Not because of what you say necessarily, but the style in which you write; your articles are always very well written. I'll look forward to your next one. Keep it up. Take care.
    Mar 4, 2012 at 10:56 PM
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    Response: Thanks, Zeke.
  • T DAWG
    Jeff, What a great read... I know very well about humble pie and BBQ the crow. You did a great job of apologizing. I too had my doubts about the current staff. Personally I ate crow. But I was so pleasantly surprised at the outcome. IF TB & JH (JY) can pull the handle on Rogers & a very good WR, then bring it on! Resign Snyder and a few others. Let Williams GO! Spencer = Washington! GO NINERS! T DAWG
    Mar 4, 2012 at 10:41 PM
    0
  • Matt
    McCloughan was not promoted from within as you suggest. Nolan hired him away from Seattle to be the GM.
    Mar 4, 2012 at 10:23 PM
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    Response: Not quite, Matt. Nolan hired him as the vice president of player personnel. When he was promoted to GM, he was promoted from within.
  • NinerTico
    :)
    Mar 4, 2012 at 9:45 PM
    0
  • longtime49erfan
    Well said. I have thought of you as a team hater for years. Your humility in this article will at least get me to treat your future articles differently. I will no longer assume your commentaries will all be negative. That is how this latest piece affected me.
    Mar 4, 2012 at 9:39 PM
    0

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