Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Trent Baalke Wrote His Own Ticket Out of Town

Jan 1, 2017 at 10:18 PM


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The 49ers and Jed York had no choice. Trent Baalke had written his own ticket out of town after numerous bad drafts, failures to bring in impact free agents and generally poor performance as the team's general manager.

The Niners concluded arguably their worst season in franchise history with a 25-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks today and the writing was on the wall before the game had even started. Jay Glazer reported that the 49ers had made the decision to fire Baalke and informed him two days prior to today's tilt. Baalke himself confirmed as much on the KNBR pregame show.

Essentially, the 2016 season seemed like a waste. Baalke probably should have been fired at the end of the 2015 season, which would have allowed a new GM to pick his own coach. This would have most likely prevented consecutive one-and-done seasons from 49er head coaches.

The 49ers are actually further back now than they were are the end of 2015. They have no general manager, no head coach, and no quarterback. Pairing what was seemingly a lame-duck GM with a new head coach was a bad idea, and the 49ers are paying for it now (literally). The team now owes $30 million into coaches and executives no longer with the team.

The team and roster had progressively gotten worse since the departure of Jim Harbaugh (who Baalke famously clashed with), and the team wasn't getting better any time soon under Baalke's watch, so his firing was justified.

The Niners must now go through another round of staff and roster house cleaning - for the second time in three years. Another round of coaching searches will start tomorrow, but this time, there will be a new GM making that pick. It will mark the first time since 2005 that they have had to do a dual search, but it didn't have to wait until now to happen.

Last year's debacle of a season should have been enough to justify bringing in a new GM. After all, was there really anything Trent Baalke could have done this past offseason to save his job? Instead, he sat on his hands during the free agency period and continued to draft ACL projects (Will Redmond). It seemed as if Baalke wasn't really trying to keep his job.

Predictably, the team fell flat on its face, which brings us to Baalke's firing and the search for a new GM.

* Side note: Paraag Marathe will likely be involved in the GM search. Wasn't he "demoted" after last season?

For me, the surprise came when news was broken about Chip Kelly also being fired. When a team goes 2-14 with 13 straight losses, the head coach surely deserves some of the blame. There were games that were mismanaged and curious gameplans (Chicago comes to mind), so Kelly isn't totally safe from criticism. However, it wasn't Kelly's fault that he had a bare cupboard to work with. I truly feel that Baalke deserves the lion's share of blame when it comes to the current state of the team, as he is the architect and it follows his vision.

Usually, a coach will get a couple of seasons to show what he's got. He would get a couple of offseasons to bring in players and personnel that fit his system. It's very difficult to correctly evaluate a coach when he doesn't have the talent to execute his game plans - something that Kelly hinted at several times throughout the year. All in all, firing Kelly seemed like a bit of a panic move from the Yorks, who have been prone to panic moves since they took over the team.

This really could have been avoided if Baalke was fired last year. After all, besides the renaissance of Colin Kaepernick and the play of rookies DeForest Buckner and Rashard Robinson, did we really learn anything about this team that we didn't already know following the 2015 season? It all seems like a terrible waste and a year that could have been spent rebuilding instead of starting from scratch again.

That being said, I also understand why the Yorks chose to let go of both Baalke and Kelly. The new GM will have full control over who the coach will be, there is a surplus of cap room, the team has the #2 overall pick in the draft and a totally clean slate when it comes to the roster. All of that should (hopefully) attract a good football mind who can, in turn, attract a good head coach.

Despite the instability surrounding the team, which may scare off some candidates, this appears to be a more attractive situation now that Baalke is out of the picture. It would do the team good to bring in some fresh blood and that's exactly what they're getting by making sweeping changes.

The playoffs start next week and the 49ers will spend a third consecutive year watching them from home. For now, 49ers fans will spend a third consecutive offseason wondering how long it will be before their team is back in the playoff picture.
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.


8 Comments

  • don
    Your column was exactly what I said over and over and over and over again last year at this time. Fire Baalke. Never has there been a guy with less ability torecognize talent than Baalke. Stevie Wonder could have done a better job drafting players. Baalke could have done a better job just by drafting non acl picks.. He is the worst.. Now we discover he nixed Dak Prescott..
    Jan 3, 2017 at 2:09 PM
    0
  • Guatemala
    Should have fired BAALKE 4 or 5 years ago, his draft picks were horrible, not all picks but most of them, most of all we probably would still have that winning coach here . (HARBAUGH) York needs to go to he's a spoiled rich kid that knows nothing about football .
    Jan 2, 2017 at 3:26 PM
    3
  • Dan Waterman
    A very balanced thought process and well written article. I guess by firing Baalke York is admitting to their mistake. They should have fired him on his average performance in the draft. A.J. Jenkins and many of his repeated torn ACL projects would have been enough to judge that he was an incompetent. Additionally, his ego was bigger than Levis stadium. I hope York have learned from their mistakes moving forward, because as a loyal fan I want to see my team winning big game once again.
    Jan 2, 2017 at 8:55 AM
    1
  • FlayvaMeister
    This comment is the most telling; and for me, the most un-nerving part of the situation which our 49ers face: * Side note: "Paraag Marathe will likely be involved in the GM search" Personally, I don't trust his football acumen outside of (his) handling The Cap ... IMO, his duties should begin and end there.
    Jan 2, 2017 at 7:36 AM
    0
  • Edd
    It starts at the top, and the 49ers have one of the worst owners in the NFL. So any "changes" are simply band-aids applied to a festering wound. The only real change I would like to see is ownership.
    Jan 2, 2017 at 7:28 AM
    4
  • Monsterniner
    As long as Jed York is in charge of some kind of football decisions we┬┤re doomed.
    Jan 2, 2017 at 12:08 AM
    4
  • Ensatsu
    Kelly's offense just doesn't work. You had to fire him. He just requires different kinds of players for his scheme. We're at the bottom of a rebuild, so why bother wasting 3-4 years getting players for his scheme? Then blow it up all over again and start over once we realize it doesn't work? Yorks just need to go hire a safe coach that can run a pro NFL offense, and just wait 3 years. We'll probably lose 10 games next year too, but we have a lot of salary cap and will have top picks. It's going to be years before we contend again.
    Jan 1, 2017 at 10:43 PM
    6
  • Toe
    Dis be some BullShit
    Jan 1, 2017 at 10:34 PM
    3


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