This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but a report Saturday indicts San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke as the owner of one hot seat.
Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, answering a question about the G.M., made it clear Baalke’s job is nowhere near secure.
“There is no question general manager Trent Baalke is on the hot seat. And there’s virtually nothing he can do at this stage in the season to strengthen the team for the final 11 games.”
The 49ers dropped their fourth straight game Thursday, getting torched at home by the Arizona Cardinals to the tune of 33-21. Since shutting out the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1, San Francisco has been outscored 140-83, which works out to an average difference of two touchdowns per game.
Since taking over the 49ers’ personnel department in 2011, Baalke has developed a reputation for hoarding draft picks and for taking risks on really good players who have suffered injuries. His so-called “redshirt” program failed miserably, however. And despite his love for accumulating a wealth of picks, Baalke has many more misses than hits via the draft.
A strong personality, Baalke and Jim Harbaugh also clashed. And while there were likely many reasons for the coach to “mutually agree” with the team to part ways (aka he was fired), Baalke likely played a big role in that decision.
Of particular note in the situation San Francisco finds itself in now is the team’s veritable black hole where offensive skill position talent is supposed to live. Aside from Carlos Hyde, the 49ers feature one of the most talent-starved receiving corps/running back units in the NFL.
Perhaps he was scared off by his early failures drafting receivers early, such as the A.J. Jenkins/LaMichael James combo in the first two rounds in 2012. Or perhaps he just abhors drafting skilled weapons early. Regardless of the reason, Baalke’s track record is terrible in this department.
Drafting talent is the key job of any NFL general manager. While there were some big hits, he’s generally failed to keep the 49ers’ roster stocked with viable talent.
At this point, it seems the only possible way the 49ers might get back to their winning ways is if Colin Kaepernick reverts back to his 2012-13 ways running Chip Kelly’s offense.
It would be all sorts of ironic if Kap ended up saving Baalke’s job, as the G.M. has reportedly been against the quarterback for a while now (more on that here).
And it appears Kaepernick will get his shot to play in Week 6 against the Buffalo Bills. He and the 49ers are reportedly working on a contract restructure that eliminates some of the guarantees that have been keeping the organization from feeling comfortable about Kaepernick playing in a game.
Things are about to get interesting in Santa Clara, no matter what happens next.