49ers Organization in Trouble
And who failed to supply him with those players? Trent Baalke, of course.
Before the 2014 season, Roman was continually praised for his offensive imagination. Remember how Alex Smith talked of him as the mad scientist, always dreaming up different schemes that confused other team’s defenses?
That all changed this last season because the 49ers were a depleted team. That wasn’t all Baalke’s fault. Injuries had sidelined key players – and there were more during the season – and free agency had taken away some key players.
But Baalke’s drafts have also contributed to the problem. He’s spotted some low round gems, like linebacker Chris Borland in the last draft, but he’s also whiffed on some high picks. Nobody is left from his first draft, in 2011.
The truth is, many of the top players on the team were drafted by Scot McCloughan, when he was the general manager. McCloughan lost his job because of an alcohol problem, which he has since solved, but he went to the Seattle Seahawks and was instrumental in that team finding the players it needed to build up to its current powerhouse team, one which will probably win its second Super Bowl title this year. He obviously has an eye for talent.
Now, McCloughan has been named general manager of the Washington team and, if he can put a gag in the mouth of owner Daniel Snyder, he’ll build a winner there, too.
Baalke worked very hard to turn Jed York against Jim Harbaugh, who was the best coach the 49ers had had since Bill Walsh. It’s going to be very hard, perhaps impossible to get a proven head coach to come to the 49ers. Their best choice would be defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who has done a terrific job and is popular with players. Incredibly, they’re looking at the Arizona defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, who has also done a great job but would have to win over players who would be upset that Fangio was gone. In what alternate universe does that make sense?
I’m sure Baalke didn’t think this far ahead, but he’ll also be on the spot. What is he going to tell Jed York if the team does poorly under a new coach? Somehow, I don’t think he’ll take any blame for the players he’s brought in, but Jed may finally figure it out himself.
Jed is a very smart man in many ways – he put together the plan for the 49ers new stadium and then sold investors on it – but he’s new to the football world. My opinion Is that he’s a fast learner and will soon figure out he’s not getting the whole truth from Baalke – and Baalke will have to do much better in the draft.
I’m amused by readers who say Jed should follow the example of his uncle. In fact, Eddie was an uninformed dilettante at Jed’s age. His first major decision was to hire Joe Thomas, a family friend, as the team’s general manager. After Thomas ruined the team, Eddie listened to me and hired Bill Walsh but one of the biggest parts of Walsh’s job was keeping Eddie at arm’s length from the team.
That didn’t always work. After the team won its second Super Bowl, played at Stanford, Eddie invited his favorites, Joe Montana and Dwight Clark, back to Youngstown and gave them huge salary increases. When that got out, players lined up at Walsh’s door for raises. Ronnie Lott, who was second only to Montana in importance to the team, was first in line.
It wasn’t until the ‘90s, when Ed DeBartolo Sr. sent Carmen Policy out from Youngstown to keep tabs on his son that Eddie contented himself with throwing big parties for the team and selected guests, of which I was never one. Surprise.
The next few years will be interesting ones for the 49ers. I don’t expect a lot of success, especially if they pass over Fangio, which would create a lot of resentment among the defensive players. The new coach will be looking over his shoulder all the time, wondering if he’ll be undermined as Harbaugh was.
Jed York said the expectations for the 49ers are that they’ll win the Super Bowl and do it with class. Until there are major changes in the organization, they won’t do either.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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