San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke finds himself firmly strapped to the hot seat as the team enters the 2016 NFL season. Or, as one NFL reporter put it on Tuesday, he’s in danger of getting chopped.
“His head is under the guillotine,” writes Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “If the 49ers don’t show progress next season, they probably will drop the blade on his neck.”
There is some sound logic behind this statement.
Once thought by many to be one of the NFL’s brightest stars in the personnel world, Baalke has struck out on a number of occasions since taking over as GM in 2011 for Scot McCloughan, who is now with Washington.
Among his mistakes include a string of gambles on players with a history of injuries. His “redshirt” program has failed miserably to this point, with running back Marcus Lattimore being the poster boy for this program.
And it’s no secret the power struggle between Baalke and Jim Harbaugh had a lot to do with the head coach being jettisoned from the organization.
Making things more interesting is the fact that the 49ers recently promoted Tom Gamble, who has an excellent relationship with new head coach Chip Kelly, to assistant general manager. As Cohn notes, should the team feel Baalke needs to go following another lost season in 2016, then Gamble is already in position to slide right into his role.
Of course, it could be argued that every general manager and head coach is on the hot seat these days. There isn’t much patience for failure in today’s NFL.
That said, the 49ers have already patient with Baalke to this point. If the 49ers suffer through another season in which players he’s brought on board don’t mesh well and produce wins, it’s probable the general manager will be on his way out the door.