Just Like That, Baalke Fails

Jul 31, 2011 at 11:35 AM

The plan, believe it or not, wasn't bad.

Oh, sure, it SOUNDED weak. "From a philosophical standpoint," Trent Baalke said, "we're not going to be major players in free agency." He didn't rule out pursuing a "high-end free agent," but he was committed to "dealing with the known, and the known is the players that have been under your tutelage." Jed York, of course, was supportive, saying that "that's where we've always focused, [on] making sure we re-sign our own guys." He even went on to mock the big spenders, for trying to "win the Super Bowl in March." (Hey, if you doubt his expertise, just ask him to show you his Super Bowl ring. Oh wait....)

Of course, there's a certain irony in preserving "the known" when all you've ever known is losing. But that's what we get for Jed's decision to hire his GM from within. An outsider might've taken one look at this 6-and-10 team and gutted the roster, importing a new, more talented core. But Baalke, you see, helped BUILD this roster. Naturally, he'd overrate it.

Fortunately for Baalke, the weaknesses of his players were subsumed by the incompetence of their coaching. Jed's old head coach was an empty pair of lowered pants, so Baalke's roster got a free pass. Jed himself admitted as much: "I think we're close, and I think that's one of the reasons why Jim Harbaugh's our [new] head coach. We think Jim can [win] with this roster."

So the plan was in place: "re-sign our own guys" but then peek outside, for experienced guys at positions of need. And, again, the plan wasn't bad. Baalke's overrating aside, he'd do the least that a GM must do. He'd increase our talent--if only a little--and Harbaugh then would take it from there.

A good plan. Catastrophically executed.

See, first off, if your focus is "always" on your own guys, you stop 'em from reaching free agency to begin with. But if they DO hit the market, you've got no choice: you pay 'em enough to stop 'em from leaving.

Baalke couldn't do either one. But, hey, at least he was focused.

"Our own guys" were primarily six: Baas, Goldson, Franklin, Lawson, McDonald, and Spikes. Spikes was no spring chicken, but he was coming off an outstanding season as Patrick Willis's partner in mayhem. Yet Spikes was only the first to go, with Baalke only barely resisting. Baas was next, and here's where things went seriously wrong. An up-and-comer at a thin position, Baas had long been deemed our top priority. The Giants might've overpaid, but Baalke's next choice--a 13-year vet who's been to six Pro Bowls--would likely cost him even more.

If there was a bright side, though, it was that Baalke might refocus on Franklin and Lawson, the two who'd seemed most likely to leave. But in paying McDonald a starter's rate, Baalke simply gave up on Franklin, and he seems wholly uninterested in pairing the edge-setting Lawson with the pass-rushing Aldon Smith. That leaves Goldson, where Baalke's bidding against the likes of Al Davis and Jerry Jones. How do you like his chances there?

There was ONE guy, of course, whom Baalke was able to snag right away: the eternal Alex Smith. We'd known for months that he'd be back--thanks, lockout--but the official announcement was still disconcerting. Sure, he showed surprising grit in organizing the players' workouts, though he seems as qualified to teach Harbaugh's offense as he'd be to teach organic chemistry. And, sure, much of his baggage isn't his fault. But there's no escaping the ugly truth: despite all we've seen in all these years, Harbaugh will start with Mike Nolan's quarterback. The saga, incredibly, still goes on.

Please, Colin. Hurry up.

With the crucial part of his plan in flames, Baalke turned to OTHER teams' guys. He needed experience at three key positions: cornerback, especially after he cut the absurdly paid Nate Clements; quarterback, especially after he cut the absurdly bad David Carr; and wide receiver, especially after Michael Crabtree absurdly announced--with great regret, of course--he'd have to skip yet another preseason. Baalke missed on a trade for Chad Ochocinco, and then he lost out on Plaxico Burress. ("Gold stars" aren't so important now, eh?) He kicked the tires on Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Moore, but he still hasn't picked up a vet to compete with Smith (or, of course, to replace him, in the likely event of his final demise).

Corner, though, was where Baalke's failure reached epic proportions. He was truly desperate and flush with cash, having spent almost none. Yet he swung and missed, again and again. Nnamdi Asomugha. Johnathan Joseph. Chris Carr. Strike one, strike two, strike three.

Trent Baalke, you're out.

Faced with such an embarrassing defeat, Baalke might've shown some remorse, or at least some humility. Instead, he only made matters worse. "We're executing the plan," he said defiantly. "I'm not going to sit here and justify what we're doing."

Oh, I see. We were told that we would "re-sign our own guys," and we've let nearly all of 'em go. We've taken shots at a bunch of guys from other teams--including the biggest name in the free-agent field--and we've landed a kicker and nothing else. Yet Baalke says we're "executing the plan"?

Nice try there, Trent.

The loser in this, of course, is Harbaugh. He could've coached any team in the league, but he wanted the Niners. So much so, he placed his trust in a novice like Baalke, the latest of the Yorks' endless series of amateurs. 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. (Oh, did I even mention that Gore's holding out?)

Thanks to Baalke, all the excitement of Harbaugh's arrival--that wondrous sensation of glorious rebirth--is gone, replaced by an all-too-familiar dread. That sinking feeling that no one, not even Harbaugh, can save us.

Sorry, Coach, but this is life in the Yorks' poisoned realm.

You deserve better. And so do we.
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.


  • DanStarkey
    Re-visiting this article, I find it rather amusing how completely wrong the stated opinions turned out to be - proving Baalke/Harbaugh correct and author Jeff Kaplan off base. Two years later, the 49ers were one play away from a 6th Super Bowl Championship. - Aubrayo Franklin: 2 teams in past 2 seasons, 37 total tackles < 39 tackles in his last season (2010) with the 49ers. McDonald and Sopoaga have both proven to be starter-caliber players. - McDonald has been retained and he's grown into a strong contributing starter. - NYG overpaid for Baas. SF in 2012 had arguably the best O-line in the NFL, with 0 games lost to injury. - Lawson, in two seasons with Cincy, has not come close to equaling his career season in '09 and '12 was his worst since his second season in the NFL in '07. - Takeo Spikes' leadership was valuable, but NaVorro Bowman has turned into a Pro Bowl tackling machine to pair with Willis as the best (and young) LB duo in the NFL. - Goldson. He has been retained and is playing at an All-Pro level. He will be a priority again in the 2013 offseason. Go 49ers!!
    Feb 19, 2013 at 4:42 PM
  • DaveWilcox
    Jeff... Since you were so wrong on this, you deserve a 2nd helping of crow. Crow is a dish best served cold. If you ever hope to regain any credibility around here, you should make your next piece about crow. How much you like it, and all the ways you can prepare it.
    Oct 22, 2011 at 9:35 AM
  • alex
    just like that, this article fails.
    Aug 14, 2011 at 5:36 PM
  • RichmondPete
    Hahaha YOU FAIL ONCE AGAIN negative nancy.
    Aug 10, 2011 at 11:34 AM
  • tom
    Hey Mouth, So whaddya think of Baalke now? Quick to damn, are you quick to praise?
    Aug 7, 2011 at 8:46 AM
  • dcsham
    "Thanks to Baalke, all the excitement of Harbaugh's arrival--that wondrous sensation of glorious rebirth--is gone, replaced by an all-too-familiar dread. That sinking feeling that no one, not even Harbaugh, can save us. Sorry, Coach, but this is life in the Yorks' poisoned realm. You deserve better. And so do we." You probably feel pretty stupid right now, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why.
    Aug 6, 2011 at 6:48 PM
  • Jikkle
    In Jeff's defense he wasn't the only one jumping the gun and calling this FA period horrible. I mean I can't count the number of talking heads that called it bad and are still calling it bad on ESPN etc. Also it should be noted that Baalke does take input from the coaching staff so it's obvious that Fangio wasn't on his hands and knees begging Baalke to resign Franklin and Lawson. It's clear by the lack of effort to resign them Fangio didn't think highly of them. Was this FA period a massive success like the Eagles? No, but I don't think you could argue that we didn't have a successful free agency period in our own right. The secondary is upgraded, Edwards is an upgrade and is completely no risk to the team, and Goodwin is on the downside of his career but still was a recent pro bowler on one of the best lines in the league and will bring far more experience and leadership on the line than Baas would have. Not to mention all these guys were signed at low risk and reasonable contracts. They work out we work on keeping them long term and if they don't work out we dump them with little to no penalty. Expectations were too high if you didn't feel it was a solid offseason now.
    Aug 6, 2011 at 2:50 PM
  • Tim
    This article is as funny as the other one about "are you smarter than a general manager?" I will answer for Jeff.... NO.
    Aug 6, 2011 at 12:12 PM
  • Tim
    To follow up on Dan's request, I also hope your new article talks about how you jumped the gun in criticizing Baalke, and how you were wrong. I was concerned, but overall Baalke has come through IMHO.
    Aug 6, 2011 at 12:12 PM
  • Micky6
    Just like that... this article became pointless, outdated, and full of holes. Gore's holdout... Nice try. The bottom line is they tried to sign their guys, but they wanted too much money. So they replaced them with better, cheaper talent. Baalke is winning this offseason.
    Aug 6, 2011 at 9:00 AM
  • RSJ
    KC, you just contradicted yourself. First you say we didn't get better but then name off all the people we have signed in FA and say they are slightly better or upgrades lol. Which one is it? Doesn't matter if it's slightly better or much better than last year, according to you, we are better. I understand Kaplan enjoys writing and most of us enjoy reading most of his amusing and mostly negative articles, but he whiffed on this one. Had Baalke not signed anyone, he would be pounding his chest about how right he was and how Baalke has failed (title of his article), but now he has to backtrack because that's clearly not the case, at least on paper.
    Aug 6, 2011 at 6:31 AM
  • Dan B
    I am submitting my formal request for another article. The offseason has been too long and I am in need of much regaling!
    Aug 6, 2011 at 1:47 AM
    Response: It's coming, Dan....
  • louie
    You boys are definitely starved for some football action. What's all the commotion about? Jeff doesn't have much faith in Baalke and he's certainly not alone. Baalke indicated he would keep the team pretty much whole and add a couple of free agents. Well, that's not what happened, and Jeff jumped him as soon as he failed to land some early free agents. Why would a star player say yes to a loser? What happened, and will continue to happen, is a rebuild that the 49er management didn't want to call a rebuild. You know, it might make them look like they haven't been doing a good job in the past too many years! So, instead of jumping Jeff maybe it's time to realize that Baalke never meant what he said about keeping the team from last year, and that Harbaugh wanted a bunch of new players (and more new faces to come over the next couple of years) to replace the sad bunch that York, Nolan, McCloughan, Singletary, AND Baalke had assembled. Some of these new guys won't even be around more than a year but Harbaugh knew he needed to make some improvements in the short term while he rebuilds HIS team.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 10:47 PM
  • Aunt Edna
    Jeff, pay these fools no mind. They don't know what a great boy you are. You are such a smart boy too. Your uncle Virgil and I still love you.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 10:33 PM
    Response: ?!
  • Shane
    mrg80, i would have to disagree. If you look at articles from mid july, via ninernation, his exact quote was "we will not be big spenders in FA, our top priority will be resigning our guys, I feel we can win with this team." Now let me be clear, i didn't really agree with this, i felt there were some major upgrades needed, but that's what Baalke said. we fast forward to July 31st, the date of this article, and we had signed no one (except of course the great alex smith). we lost Baas and spikes and were cutting Nate. with nothing but a bunch of whiffs to show for it. as we remember, the majority of the nation, including myself, was in panic. Then we land a couple of guys via luck & castoffs, that was a part of the plan? stone hands Rogers, the 8th best CB out there. Stone hands Edwards, who no one wants cuz he may get suspended. Goodwin pure luck (proof: they were praying Snyder wld work out) so my point was only this, the article was completely accurate at the time written, who had we signed? 2, i laughed at the irony of people knocking it a week after the fact when that's what media is. an assessment of events up to TODAY. That's why PTI is on every day and not just once a year.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 9:08 PM
  • Dan
    Team's better by virtue of the coaching change. The rest of the roster changes are just to get the talent to match with what the coach wants to do with this team. The FO clearly doesn't want to commit obscene amounts of money to any one player to get the job done. As ticket-buying fans we should at least appreciate fiscal responsibility. I don't think Baalke did a fantastic or terrible job with the free agents and I didn't interpret his plans about free agency to mean that he would be aggressive. It seemed like he said he would sit back and try to improve the roster and see if he could keep some of the guys from last year. He clearly had an idea which ones of those he thought were most important to the team. I don't think Aubrayo was in a hurry to sign any contract with us anyway. I get the feeling he wasn't happy with his job here. I'm leaning to my usual wait and see what happens before you start calling for people's heads here Jeff. You would make a terrible medieval monarch (or a wonderful one depending how you look at it). You would have heads rolling all over your castle.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 7:53 PM
  • KC
    Jeff, Nice article! Don't worry about these fools! Yes I said fools. Baalke has picked up some decent players since this article. But for anyone to say that we are BETTER than last year other than at WR is a joke! Ike was on the team last year! Franklin still started and was franchised!! Cmon, Franklin is the BETTER player. Carlos Rogers? Eh, better than nothing but CLEARLY better than Nate? The two vets at safety? Probably an upgrade but not a huge upgrade! Lawson we could do without, Baas vs Goodwin we will wait and see, probably a wash. Braylon, if he can stay out of trouble, is a def. upgrade. Problem I see here is the one-year deal....If he balls we are paying out the nose or back to square one when he leaves....Baalke has not IMPROVED the roster, it's pretty much a wash with last year....so Harbaugh BETTER be GREAT!
    Aug 5, 2011 at 6:15 PM
  • Derrrrr
    Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr u look like a serious dumbass, bro. Next time wait for the facts to unfold before u go off half-cocked. Seriously how much time didju waste on this crap? Tell us.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 2:42 PM
  • Michael
    Jeff, you and I have sparred for some time now with equal measures of contempt & respect, however, you really shanked this one pretty bad. I have to say I am in absolute delight watching Niner Nation beat your boy bag like a drum. I will not pile on, this once. Please, for future reference, keep your pants up and never repeat such a silly mistake again. I like it so much better when your articles are at least within the range of normality.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 2:30 PM
  • EVB
    See this is what I have been saying all along about you Kaplan. You are so bent on writing the negative, front-office bashing piece. You want the attention-grabbing commentary. You take every opportunity to write commentary slamming our beloved Niners! That's all you do! Negative Nancy! You couldn't wait to jump on the front office! You shot your load way too early and now you look like a jackass again and I LOVE IT! The truth is the only loss that really hurts is Franklin and I think Ike steps in and does a fine job. We drafted this guy Aldon Smith who is tearing up camp so far. Heard of him? Of course you have? You slammed the pick! He'll make us say "Manny Who?" pretty quickly. Exit Bass, enter a Super Bowl winning, Pro Bowl center. Upgraded @ safety with or w/out Goldson. Upgraded over Nate @ CB, added a nice LB to lessen the Spikes departure and, to boot, we got Braylon Edwards. SF took shots @ a few other big names, but the truth is they didn't really have a shot @ those guys based on the competition we were in for their services. Let this be a lesson to you, Jeffy! Quit being so consumed with being a hater and try being a waiter! In other words, wait it out a bit...
    Aug 5, 2011 at 1:06 PM
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    You people need to get off Jeff's back. Ok so maybe Baalke may redeem himself. That does not mean that there are no red flags. Look at the fact of how the Niners are handling the Taylor Mays disaster. They send out a mass e-mail to all the NFL teams saying that Mays is available???!!! This makes Mays' trade value go to just about zero. Smart move Huh? This lack of professionalism and expertise is what Jeff is pointing out and it certainly bears following. Jeff does quite well on keeping us up to date on these issues and sharing insights I might add. Maybe everyone wants a yes man, company man, but I want someone who is going to "tell it like it is".
    Aug 5, 2011 at 11:06 AM
  • Gmoney
    Jeff, I think your mistake was assuming the Niners front office would function differently after Harbaugh. I made the same mistake. But if you look at this offseason, the front office has done what it always does...wait for deals once the big ones have been made and try and get value. They were supposed to keep their own yes, but the guys they lost were replaced by better players (arguably). Niners didn't panic, didn't overpay, they just waited for their time. I also like the mixed approach of signing certain guys for 1 year and then locking up the ones they know they want for multiyear deals. Now if they pluck another starting corner I will be totally content. BTW, I wonder if Crabtree's foot is going to miraculously heal now.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 9:50 AM
  • Richard
    Hey Jeff: Just like that--you overreacted! Does not surprise me.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 8:54 AM
  • mrg80
    Shane, you couldn't be more wrong. The whole article blasts Baalke for not meeting his commitments, but ignores the most relevant comments from the Niners front office. We were told that the Niners were not going to give away their strategy (aka tip their hand) to the press, which would inhibit the plan they were going to execute. I still think that Baalke did try to retain our guys - those that didn't have unrealistic salary expectations and were committed to staying with the 49ers. A couple probably didn't fit with the coaches' plan (e.g. Lawson), which is to be expected. At the end of the day, there was no "catastrophically executed" plan. He refused to tip his hand, people made assumptions, people got nervous after a couple days and the plan now appears to be flawlessly executed.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 6:35 AM
  • Jeff
    How can you write an article like this? It's like the race is a mile long and you're taking cheap shots at the quarter mile claiming we are going to lose the race. You're saying the GM failed, clearly you have no clue - oh sorry I forgot you're a front office GM who has won super bowls and selected talent. Excuse me - that's right...Really.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 5:19 AM
  • WildBill
    Just Like That This Article Fails--quick to judge just because we didn't go diving in and overspend. You failed because you did not take into account or see what some have said, that Baalke was not going to make a splash by overspending on one or two players. That Baalke said he had a plan and he stuck with it. Wait till the market settles and not overreact. That teams will have to move and cut players. You did not think about having to consider that you don't just spend but must manipulate the cap. You also may be one of those that are tying the sins of the father to the sins of the son because Baalke was part of the organization when failed regimes screwed the niners, not realizing that a person can be their own and not be like their previous. Patience...victory goes not to those who are the swiftest or the strongest but to those that endure to the end. People that are like rabbits may lose to the tortoise, tho slow, they are steady.
    Aug 5, 2011 at 3:15 AM
  • Ryan
    Jeff, I look forward to your columns eh? I thought yours on Sunday was premature, but that's not an issue; IF you post a similarly quick knee-jerk reaction to what has transpired since Sunday. That's all. Sincerely yours. - NinerNation 20 years and counting.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 11:39 PM
  • Old Fan
    What a difference 4 days make. I'm sure that now you would not write that article criticizing Baalke!
    Aug 4, 2011 at 9:28 PM
  • Platt
    How's that humble pie taste Kaplan?
    Aug 4, 2011 at 9:01 PM
  • HB
    Do we need to call 911 so you don't choke on your foot?
    Aug 4, 2011 at 8:53 PM
  • Shane
    Jeff, happy to do it. You're a talented guy and your pieces are always the best. You have a number of hall of fame monday morning QBs in your comments section today! the way i see it, you wrote an article 4 days ago that was totally accurate and things have changed since. i would rather you write articles throughout the year giving us good info and opinion rather than just a big year-long synopsis in Feb of what happened all year. also unless i read it wrong this piece was about Baalke not doing what he said he would do which is sign our own guys (good strategy or not) and that still didn't happen. so he has made some moves in the last few days and we should all be rejoicing together. But if 4-5 of these guys flop do you write an article talking about how everyone jumped the gun on how these are great signings?? that's what being a fan is all about, we live in the moment. some of us are just more honest about the tuff times. reminds me of today with Hoge. If 3 years from now Tebow is good, everyone will look back and go, see Hoge you were wrong! NO, Hoge's comments today are 100% accurate, but things change and that was his opinion in that moment. That's sports. so anyway my 2 cents on that.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 8:04 PM
    Response: Shane. I literally could not have said it better. Thank you my friend.
  • overthemiddle
    Seems kind of strange, all the nay-sayers suddenly are becoming quiet. Hmm. Oh just because we signed these FAs doesn't mean we are going to win anything. I will check back at the break which I believe is after the sixth game. Also for what it is worth you all need to look at the Rams and Hawks schedules, they might bring a few smiles also. Oh by the way Jeff, no problem, you keep speaking your mind, you're more often right than wrong. However in this case you just might be wrong about Baalke. I still think it's too early to judge him.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 7:45 PM
  • STL Niner Fan
    And just like that Kaplan failed.......as predicted this has turned out to be the most premature article ever written. Let's see, premature speculation...check...self-generated hysteria.....check.....crowning or writing off teams before seeing on-field performance......check. You should submit your application to ESPN right away! Frankly I'm not convinced all these latest acquisitions will translate into anything on the field but since you seem to think the whole season is won and lost in the offseason I would say at the very least your initial conclusion is sooooooo....wrong...well that's been pointed out already. Hey I will give you credit as your current responses seem to indicate you're willing to eat some crow. Here's to another 7-9 season! (hey our schedule is tough and our QB situation is.....up for debate.)
    Aug 4, 2011 at 6:37 PM
  • Ray Wersching Fan Club
    Can you please update the article in light of this week's activity? From my POV, looks like Baalke tried to get the big names but wasn't willing to overspend. Hopefully this was because he knew that 'nearly-just-as-good' players (with upside) would be around at a much better price since there are so many FAs on the market this year (and not just dumb luck). Not sure if that's giving him too much credit or if that was the plan that he was executing all along. We still have a few holes to fill, FAgency ain't over yet, but an update would be great.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 6:14 PM
  • mrg80
    How's that retraction coming along?
    Aug 4, 2011 at 6:01 PM
    Response: It's been so long...but....
  • Nick
    Jumped the gun as usual....Just like your draft review. Aldon Smith looks good....So my question is, when are you going to learn a thing or 2 about evaluating football players?
    Aug 4, 2011 at 5:56 PM
    Response: Is it time...at last....
  • Woof
    How do you feel now?
    Aug 4, 2011 at 5:26 PM
    Response: Should I actually give this front office...my faith....
  • BM
    Keep up the good work, Jeff. Even though we don't agree on Baalke. You're the only one that hated Sing almost as much as I did, last season. And these message boards were the only thing that kept me sane last year. Enjoy the season, Jeff. I think you will be entertained. I'm looking forward to seeing these new guys play. I was never a fan of bringing back the old players. I have watched those losers for five yrs. When Kap gets out there, that offense is gonna be fun to watch. And that secondary with Rogers, Whitner, and Culliver will be knocking people out this year.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 5:18 PM
    Response: Could it be that Harbaugh...will have what he needs....
  • Ryan
    Um...what? How, exactly, has Baalke failed? Why? Because he didn't get a few top-flight FAs? You may notice that 30 other teams failed to get those players too. The notion that signing: (1) a starting corner that is an upgrade from our previous #1, (2) a starting safety, (3) a starting Pro Bowl center who has won the Super Bowl, (4) a decent No. 1 but likely exceptional No. 2 WR who has caught 16 TDs in a season, and (5) a backup safety... is "scrambling" is ridiculous. If anyone is scrambling it is the author of this article that made sweeping conclusions based on minimal facts because a few top-flight FAs were signed by other teams. (Moore/Hasselbeck... really?) That is not an attack on the language skills of the author, that is a logical conclusion from the evidence in front of me. Baalke did EXACTLY what he said he would do (i.e. be patient), and it netted several nice pieces. The only real loss from last season was Franklin, and apparently he wasn't quite the hot commodity that people thought. NFL people know NFL talent, and few NFL people were going after Franklin. Losing Spikes may hurt too, but let's see how Bowman / Sopoaga play before getting too worked up about it.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 4:39 PM
    Response: Could it really be...that Baalke can be trusted....
  • Dan
    New article please Jeff, a lot has happened since Sunday.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 4:34 PM
    Response: Belief...trying to break through....
  • solymar
    You're right Jeff, we do deserve better -- better than you. This is yet another instance of your typically uber-negative, fear-filled, premature rants. Hyperbole and overreaction are your stocks in trade, and they're wearing thin as a cover for a basic lack of football knowledge and judgment. Not four days after you declared the Harbaugh era over and the end of the world nigh, the 49ers have executed a roster upgrade carefully, judiciously, and exactly according to what appears to be a well formulated plan. Time for you to move off the home page and stop raining on everyone's parade. We're fans, Jeff. Your misery may love company, but I'd really prefer to be spared any more of the obnoxious whining of an incurable malcontent. Lowell Cohn is so much better at this sort of thing than you; he actually knows a bit about the football business.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 4:17 PM
    Response: Fear...subsiding....
  • JaxinSac
    you absolutely did jump the gun...they said they'd target signing their own first...and they did. They didn't overpay for Baas...they upgraded with a superbowl-winning pro bowler. Just landed Edwards...a safety...etc...and still going. I'd rather have them find out who can play and who can't, and not overpay people because hey, they've been here. It's like judging the draft the day of the draft. It's always an incomplete. You saying they failed is like predicting the end of the world in '99 and then saying you were right that the world will end, but just off a bit on the date.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 4:12 PM
    Response: Resistance...fading....
  • Adrian
    I respect your writing but you jumped the gun on judging this new regime and calling them failures. Gotta wait it out before you can play that card sir.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 3:12 PM
    Response: Well, again, to be precise, I said only that BAALKE failed, and he did, in the sense that he didn't do what he said he'd do. Now he's scrambling to make up for it, and who knows, he just might. I do allow for that possibility.
  • Gmoney
    Jeff, glad to hear you are encouraged about the coaching. Personally, I didn't think the Niners' problem last year was talent. For me, it was the coaching of Singletary that hamstrung this team. If Harbaugh can, in fact, install a sophisticated offense that attacks defenses instead of reacting to them, the Niners could surprise a lot of people, especially if they get Edwards. Edwards, Crabs, Vernon, Walker, Gore....the offensive weapons are clearly there, as is the O line. On defense we got a better cover guy than Nate AND added Aldon Smith who seems to be showing serious pass rushing potential. Assuming we shore up our safety situation and maybe get another corner, I think Harbaugh's ability to coach offense will carry the day and make the niners a contender for a playoff spot. Like I said, we weren't that bad last year, we simply were outcoached. Time will tell.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 2:38 PM
    Response: You KNOW I agree with your assessment of our last coach, G. There were certainly questions about our players, but they didn't have a chance with coaching like that. But that's why Jed and Baalke said their plan was to give Harbaugh a chance with the same roster. What happened?
  • Nick S.
    For those hating on Kaplan's ability to write, stop. Even if you disagree with him here (like me) and think he's just exhaling some knee-jerk reactionist fan-angst (like me), you can't deny that he's a good writer... as in has a good command of the English language and communicates that well to his readers. Just wanted to put that out there...
    Aug 4, 2011 at 11:37 AM
    Response: I appreciate that, Nick. Really, I do.
  • shane
    Jeff, i always find it funny when i read comments basically saying all the articles you write are negative in nature, yet we haven't had a nonlosing season in 8 years. (we went 8-8 once...WOW) no correlation there huh? I feel like your writing has very much mirrored our seasons: spots of positivity with an overlying theme of negativity. Just like our seasons. if we go 12-4 and get bounced out of the NFC championship game and you still write a "negative" article then i guess it's validated. until then, keep it real man!! Anyway, so it looks like someone just told the 49ers the lockout is over and we started signing guys. we filled a few positions with slight upgrades in my opinion (C, CB, maybe WR), however i think it's known these are all bandaids. But I'm very encouraged by the practice play thus far of R Smith, Ald Smith, Gore, V Davis, and some others. what is your take on all that has changed over the last week?? I'm encouraged a bit.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 10:06 AM
    Response: Thanks for the support, Shane; you've always had my back. And you know, despite this negative article, I'm kind of encouraged too. Not so much by the signings--they're band-aids, just as you said--but by reading how Harbaugh is actually COACHING this team. Finally, REAL COACHING! I almost got goosebumps reading how we were practicing plays with a running playclock, remembering how last year's team couldn't even get to the line. Stuff like that reminds me of how fortunate we are to have Harbaugh as coach. True, I wish to God that Harbaugh could've taken a real shot at contention this year, pursuant to Baalke's stated plan, but I'm still looking forward to seeing him in action. I've still got a whopper of a man-crush on Harbaugh. How's THAT for positive?!
  • Sonoco
    It's not just the losing record. It's the losing record, coupled with a new coaching staff that had no offseason to integrate their systems. That's gotta be a tough sell for any free agent. I believe your analysis is laced with too much hysteria.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 9:39 AM
    Response: You just described the Panthers as well. But THEY seem to have managed to at least keep their own guys.
  • Darrell G
    Jeff, Your articles never fail to cause a stir, that's for sure. You may have written this one too quick. The addition of Rogers and the center from NO looks like a stop-gap to build on. Every time the 9ers have made a big "splash" in Free Agency recently, it's bit them in the butt. Clements being the latest example. Perhaps they are being overly conservative, but I would not want to see them up against the cap with limited options in upcoming years. Better for Harbaugh to see what he already has and coach them up and move forward from there. Let's wait and see before we hang 'em?
    Aug 4, 2011 at 6:33 AM
  • M. Horner
    Tlo, did it ever occur to you that most of these columns have been negative because the 49ers have been negative? The only two positives I can think of in recent memory have been the firing of Mike Singletary and the hiring of Jim Harbaugh, and I believe that Jeff was positive about those developments. What other positives have you seen?
    Aug 4, 2011 at 5:57 AM
  • Alden Brown
    How low have our expectations as 49er fans become? We're acting like signing a 32-year-old center is the ticket to the Super Bowl. THIS is what convinces people that Baalke is a success? What if Baalke would have come out before free agency started and said that his plan was to let all of our free agents get away, and then sign a 32-year-old center? Would people really have been that excited? We're 30 million under the cap, we were obviously going to sign SOMEONE. The question is, are we a better team now than before free agency began? I just don't see it.
    Aug 4, 2011 at 5:54 AM

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