Trent Baalke vs Scot McCloughan: Who really built the 49ers?

Feb 27, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Yesterday, I posted a piece in which I stated the 49ers should keep Trent Baalke over Jim Harbaugh should a choice need to be made following the 2014 season. The comments from many were negative, which was not unexpected, with many saying that the strength of the 49ers roster was due to Scot McCloughan and not Trent Baalke.

Baalke took over as acting GM when McCloughan resigned only days before the 2010 draft. By that time, most free agent transactions had taken place reducing the impact Baalke could have on the roster to the draft picks he was left to choose.

Below are the starting lineups from 2010 and 2013, the starters added by Baalke with a star next to their name. There are 12 starting players currently on the roster that are a direct result of Baalke, that's over half, and that number will grow in 2014.

When you go through the entire 2013 depth chart, you will not find one player in a backup role from the McCloughan regime. That means 42 of the 53 players on the current active roster were added by Baalke.

2010 Starting Lineup 2013 Starting Lineup
QB- Alex Smith QB- Colin Kaepernick*
RB- Frank Gore RB- Frank Gore
FB- Moran Norris FB- Bruce Miller*
WR- Michael Crabtree WR- Michael Crabtree
WR- Josh Morgan WR- Anquan Boldin*
TE- Vernon Davis TE- Vernon Davis
LT- Joe Staley LT- Joe Staley
LG-Mike Iupati* LG-Mike Iupati*
C- David Baas C- Jonathan Goodwin*
RG- Chilo Rachal RG- Alex Boone
RT- Anthony Davis* RT- Anthony Davis*
LDT - Isaac Sopoaga LDT- Ray McDonald
NT- Abrayo Franklin NT- Glenn Dorsey*
RDT- Justin Smith RDT- Justin Smith
OLB- Manny Lawson OLB- Aldon Smith*
MLB- Takeo Spikes MLB- NaVorro Bowman*
MLB- Patrick Willis MLB- Patrick Willis
OLB- Parys Haralson OLB- Ahmad Brooks
LCB- Shawntae Spencer LCB- Carlos Rogers*
RCB- Nate Clements RCB- Tarell Brown
SS- Michael Lewis SS- Donte Whitner*
FS- Dashon Goldson FS- Eric Reid*
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Adam
    First, I'm a seahawks fan, so this is an outside perspective. I'm just so surprised by the general angst in the 49er fan community over who the starting RB, the starting QB, Offensive Coordinator, GM and Head Coach should be. You have the Alex Smith guys, the guys ready to move on from Gore, guys who slam every offensive play call by Roman, and who absolutely loathe either Baalke or Harbaugh. And in Seattle, I don't think you'd find a single fan who wants to replace Wilson, Lynch, Carroll, Schneider or Bevell. I simply find the contrast striking.
    Mar 10, 2014 at 5:27 PM
  • Frank M
    I think you left out someone...Mike Nolan. He had a lot to do with shaping the roster. He had the personnel power early on. McCloughan and Baalke have continued to build the roster to what it is today. The saying "it takes a village" comes to mind.
    Mar 8, 2014 at 12:50 PM
  • Gonzola
    I think they both will and probably should stay. That being said if I had to choose I would replace Harbaugh. He, like the rest of the 49ers are losers. Not because they made it to the Super Bowl and lost for the 1st time in franchise history... Not because they have again lost the NFC Championship game... But because they have a LOSER mentality. "Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser." - Eddie D. Harbaugh played for the Bears and what other team is more proud of a losing tradition that the Bears. Had Harbaugh had dismissed Roman or taken a lead role during the times when the offensive PLAY CALLING lost the game(s) - which WAS often -- then I may be Coach H's biggest FAN. One of two things is happening to the 49ers. #1 They truly are losers or #2 The NFL is rigged and the 49ers are just on hold until their new stadium is finished, they develop some drama/storyline, and the NFL (a nonprofit) can goose as much money out of them as possible. I am going to go with #2 because I refuse to believe that we lost a Super Bowl and a NFC Championship game by 5 yards. What a crock?! NFL = rigged since late 90's. Start a petition and demand the NFL release full game tapes!!!!
    Mar 4, 2014 at 1:47 PM
  • Bill
    lots of good comments, so I won't repeat what many have said and I agree - get it settled, Jed, Jim and Trent are a great team. with that said, lets cut to the most important point of all, the pick of Chilo Rachal is all you need to know about McCloughan. (or was that Nolan?)... anyway, anyone that hard a hand in that pick need to go !
    Mar 1, 2014 at 9:23 PM
    Response: Yikes! That was McCloughan in 2008.
  • frank
    Well technically Scott McLoughlan was hired as a supervisor in the personnel department in Feb.2005.Mike Nolan had Total control of football operations from 05-07. After 3 straight loosing seasons McLoughlan was then hired as GM in January 08 nominally given authority over Nolan instead of firing the coach. Subsequently F.Gore 05 , V.Davis 06 , P.Willis 07 were drafted by Nolan not McLoughlan. Baalke was the 49ers Western Region Scout from 05-07. He was promoted to Director of Player Personnel in 08, a position largely responsible for overseeing the team's college scouting operations. If you ask me baalke has a bigger hand print on this team than McLoughlan.
    Feb 28, 2014 at 7:27 PM
  • dave
    Nice comparison Jack...IMHO the 2013 roster is the same or better at every position. In addition the roster depth has improved across the board. Kudos to Trent for a job well done. Any coach would love to have this squad to mold. By all accounts the locker room has great chemistry as well. With 13 picks coming up and a couple of red shirts to add to the mix the Niners look to contend for a while. Now its up to coach H to get the job done and hoist Lombardi #6.
    Feb 28, 2014 at 11:28 AM
    Response: Thanks Dave
  • Guy Marker
    Mr. Jed York, For years, all the way back to 1966, I have been a diehard 49ers fan, I have been here and stayed with the Niners during the good and the bad years. Jed, you need to stop this chatter, this is not good at all. From a CEO to CEO, you need to put this fire out and put it out right now. Don't let this tear down all your wonderful work. You're not going to fine a finer coach then Harbaugh. The best way to stop this is just come out and stay we have two men that "agree to disagree, so show me a reason to agree". I don't see this happening. Two strong wills can and will but heads. Use it to your advantage and tell the media to stop the tearing down all that is finally good after all these years of bad after your uncle stepped down. You have done really a wonderful job, but Sir, you have to deal with this now and put this fire out now. Both men are quality men in their field of expertise. At the same time you need to call both of these men into your office and get them more under control. Again use the same statement, it's okay to "agree to disagree, so show me a reason to agree". In no way, is there another coach that can replace what Harbaugh has done with your team. Are you kidding me he took a 6 & 10 team all the way to one play of being in the Super Bowl, the next year had you one play from winning the Super Bowl and again got your team back to one play from the Super Bowl. Yes he has some great players, any team that gets to this level has great players. Why did we lose three of our games? We lost them because key player where not on the field, this played into at least three of this last year's losses. On any given Sunday any of these teams can bet the other team, take something away and you see the average of such games as the ones we lost. In my heart and soul I feel the Niners are very close to have the Seahawk's number. We had them in this last game, we had control over this last game, three very bad call by the ref's which wear clearly wrong call's, and Cap's checking down we would have won and been in the Super Bowl. Had Cap checked down we would have had a better chance to win that game and if we had as did the Seahawks we would have beat Denver as well, meaning Super Bowl win number 6. Again, as a CEO to a CEO put the fire out stop this now. Keep the bit for a new contract also in house and out of the media. Jed you can control the chatter by just say we have two men that "agree to disagree, so show me a reason to agree". There is nothing wrong with strong men at time not seeing I too I. Harbaugh is our coach and a dam good one maybe the best if football and Baalke is most likely also the arguably the finniest GM. Get them under control and you will ride this success for a long time maybe even longer than your great uncle. Bottom line trade Harbaugh over Baalke and I'm done and I mean done with being a fan of the Niner's, I 'm sick of this and if your too stupid to see this you don't deserve to win. This is the last time I'm going through this. Baalke is a good man but he is not a coach not even close to what Harbaugh bring to this team. Pay the man and stop all this crap.
    Feb 28, 2014 at 10:34 AM
  • RishikeshA
    McCloughan made some good picks but when you're picking top ten every year the odds are in your favor drafting a productive player. Baalke has kept the line moving without going over the cap. Did Mac ever have the title of GM? I don't hear his name mentioned for vacancies during the off seasons since he left. Whereas, if Baalke hit the market there would be multiple suitors.
    Feb 27, 2014 at 7:57 PM
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Who cares??? Keep Harbaugh and "just win baby" Pay the man and move on.
    Feb 27, 2014 at 4:18 PM
  • Matt Two
    Gore, Vernon, Justin Smith, Willis were all from the McCloughan era - he deserves the credit. Baalke so far has orchestrated some nice star players: Kaep, Ilupati, A.Davis, Aldon, Reid...just to name a few of my favors. Given the numbers, you can say 20% of the current team was built by McCloughan, and 80% from Baalke. Still, 4 years after McCloughan departed, his work is still visible.
    Feb 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM
    Response: I agree that McCloughan is still visible, he brought in some good players. Many of them are getting toward the end of the road now.
  • MJ
    Another misleading article. Mcloughan left s month before the draft in which the 49ers drafted Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Navarro Bowman, and others of 2010. Mcloughab did the leg work and Baalke pulled the trigger. The others attributed to Baalke on your list worthy of mention, Anquan Boldin and Eric Reid, are all Harbaugh. The Boldin trade started when one Harbaugh called his brother is SF. Eric Reid was pursued by Harbaugh at Stanford, and it was no secret he civeted him. I do not understand why media pundits try misdirecting facts. Mike Singletary had most of the team you errantly credit with Baalke building, and rgey went NOWHERE. Harbaugh took the team to another level, he made the 49ers superbowl contenders. If it comes down to having to choose between Baalke and Harbaugh, Baalke needs to go. Harbaugh has proven himself more than deserving to be Niners coach for the next 10 years. Whether Baalke (or the writer of this article) like it or not-- PAY THE MAN!!
    Feb 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM
    Response: Between December 2010 and September 2011 Baalke brought in 19 new players. I don't recall Singletary having Aldon Smith, Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner or Chirs Culliver on his defense. All played key roles in 2011. Goodwin was a key acquisition for the offense along with Bruce Miller and Kendall Hunter.
  • brian
    Good article that helps with the baalke argument, but if you look around the league at teams like the Browns and Lions, talented players only get you so far. You need a great coach to pull the team together and get the most out of these players.
    Feb 27, 2014 at 2:37 PM
  • Matt One
    good article, but it's inclusive no matter how you look at it. to be fair, you have to imagine that if McCloughan were still the GM, who would he have brought in via free agency or drafted compare to Baalke. Though the Seattle roster might offer some ideas, but they had different needs and different salary cap. In generality, I would say both are good GMs.
    Feb 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM
  • ClayShaw
    FACT: Mike Nolan built this team! He wasn't the greatest head coach but he was the one who told McCloughan what kind of players he was looking for. If I remember correctly, he was the one who recruited McCloughan to SF in the first place. The two of them together brought in some serious talent. All it took was Harbaugh to know what to do with it.
    Feb 27, 2014 at 2:29 PM
    Response: 11 out of 53 players on the active roster in 2013 were around in 2010, but Nolan who was fired in 2009, and McClouhan built the team. Makes perfect sense to me. Both deserve some credit for setting the course of the type of team the 49ers would become but as for actually acquiring the players to make it work, that is Baalke.
  • TIM_
    And we should remember that Baalke was one of McCloughan's right hand men when it came to scouting for the drafts,so he even had a lot to do with who was drafted and signed in free agency when McCloughan was the GM.
    Feb 27, 2014 at 1:33 PM
    Response: The 2010 draft was the first time he had final say.

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