Seriously. This couldn't be happening.

Since landing Jim Harbaugh, we'd proudly predicted a new age of glory. But with business on ice, the start of that era kept getting pushed back. Now, though, at last we were here. Day one, of Harbaugh's first draft. Day one, of the Niners' resurgence.

This was the day when it all would start.

And it couldn't have started any worse.

For each of his picks, any decent GM has Plan A and Plan B. As the draft approached, Trent Baalke was predictably coy when asked for his plans about pick #7. "We'll find out on draft day," he said with a smirk.

And thanks to the Niners' "war room" camera, we DID find out. We saw Plan A and we saw Plan B. And we saw how both went up in smoke.

In a delicious twist of irony, Plan A hinged on the Cardinals. We'd crushed those guys in the season finale, earning ourselves that crucial sixth win. Now we stood at their mercy. They needed a passer, and Blaine Gabbert was there; all they had to do was take him. But instead they took Patrick Peterson, a Deion-like corner we'll face twice a year for a decade or more.

In the war room, all were visibly pissed. The message was clear: with pick #5, there went Plan A.

Baalke started working the phone, showing us that Plan B was a trade. The Falcons were looking to move up, WAY up, to take receiver Julio Jones. It seemed like we might have a deal, and what a spectacular deal it would be; Atlanta was dangling a Herschel's ransom, a package of dynasty-building picks. But at the last minute, the Falcons gave those picks to the Browns.

In the war room, Baalke slammed down the phone. And with pick #6, there went Plan B.

Stuck at 7, it was up to Baalke to salvage some face. Clearly, Harbaugh didn't want Gabbert, so thoughts started turning to Prince Amukamara, the next-best thing to Peterson and a popular choice for us at that spot. But Baalke went with Aldon Smith, whom some of us had scarcely heard of. Upon further review, Smith was more a surprise than a reach, though he seems as much the next Manny Lawson as he seems the next DeMarcus Ware. Still, he was Plan C, and an uninspiring one at that.

This was the start of the Harbaugh era. And it couldn't have started any worse.

Of course, the biggest task still lay ahead. This draft was all about Harbaugh's QB; getting him was an absolute must, even BEFORE we settled for Smith. Now, though, the stakes were raised. In a way, this strange partnership--the savior coach, and the GM who had just happened to be here--was hanging in the balance already.

With a leap of faith, Harbaugh had given Baalke his trust.

Baalke simply had to deliver.

Harbaugh's choice was Colin Kaepernick, and it was easy to see why. Statistically, he was the greatest dual-threat quarterback that college football had ever seen, bursting with raw athletic talent. His value, though, had been suppressed, by his gimmicky offense and baseball-like windup. So Baalke could wait for the second round (though he dodged a bullet when the Vikes reached way up to take Christian Ponder). But he couldn't wait until pick 45.

On the morning of day two, the Niners told Kaepernick they'd trade up to get him. Easier said than done, of course. Baalke couldn't get pick 33 away from the Patriots, who went with a corner. (They'd wait to take their QB in the third.) He must've been sweating as Buffalo was on the clock, but the Bills selected a corner too. As expected, the Bengals went passer but took Andy Dalton. And then, with the Raiders apparently hot on our heels, Baalke moved into the Broncos' spot, giving up a fourth and a fifth.

And with literally the last possible pick, Baalke delivered Harbaugh's QB.

With his most essential mission accomplished, Baalke went back to confounding the masses. 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; if these risks don't pan out, those doubts will evolve into shouts for his head.

Yet this merely illustrates the paradox of this new regime. We don't trust Baalke, but we DO trust Harbaugh, and Harbaugh's got no doubts at all. "Trent Baalke was a steely-eyed missile man in this draft," the coach raved. "It was impressive. Some of the things that happened in this draft, a lot of people would have buckled. ... [With] Colin, they were diving in. Three, four teams were diving in to get him, and we got him one pick before we couldn't have gotten him."

And for now, at least, that's all that matters. Baalke got him, the key to the Niners' return to glory. Oh, sure, it'll take a while, as Harbaugh constructs him with caution and care. We'll start with a bridge, and thanks to this vacuous labor mess, it's ever more likely to be Alex Smith, who'll cast his unfortunate shadow of old onto Harbaugh's era of shiny and new.

But make no mistake, that era's begun. Whatever else Baalke did or didn't, he did what he simply needed to do.

Baalke delivered Harbaugh's QB.