Brandon Jones

Baalke acts like 49ers GM, trades for Ted Ginn

It’s not like I wasn’t already sold on the power of Twitter, but I sure am now. Just found out from Jay Glazer (via Matt Maiocco) that the 49ers acquired Ted Ginn from the Dolphins for a 5th round pick.

Just a half hour or so before, @MattMaiocco wrote this:

49ers do not have a GM, huh? Trent Baalke is in charge of draft, free agency and trade opportunities. That sounds like a GM to me.

20 minutes later, he retweeted the good news from Glay Jazer.

And this is great news. Fantastic news. Now the 49ers don’t have to waste a first round pick on a 3rd down back who might break off a return every now and then; they can go after Joe Haden and the best available offensive lineman. Or Jimmy Clausen, a guy who could become great trade bait later (or the future franchise quarterback) in a league that has suddenly become quite trade-happy compared to years past. The only reason why the 49ers were able to get Ginn (the No. 9 pick in the ’07 draft, two spots ahead of Patrick Willis) at such a low price was the Brandon Marshall trade that happened earlier in the week.

Sure, Ginn has never really panned out (as anyone who’s drafted him in fantasy knows), and Ginn isn’t exactly the best at catching the ball. But Ginn will be the best kickoff return man the 49ers have had since, well, Allen Rossum. But at least Ginn isn’t old enough to have played on the same team as Irving Fryar.

The only worry here is that the 49ers need a punt returner even worse than a guy to take back kicks, and Ginn had those responsibilities taken away over the past two years in favor of Davone Bess. Perhaps new special teams coach Kurt Schottenheimer thinks he can make Ginn a dynamic punt returner again, but I don’t think the fact that Ginn hasn’t returned a lot of punts in the last two years is a huge issue, or would mean the 49ers still are looking at Spiller. Ginn took back 2 kicks for TDs last year, so the Niners are set there. Would you really spend a first round pick on a guy just because you wanted a punt returner?

Even better news than the new found draft day flexibility is the fact that someone’s behind the wheel in Santa Clara. The biggest fear was that this team was rudderless, with decisions made on a “mutual basis” between Trent Baalke, Mike Singletary, Jed York and Paraag Marathe. Wouldn’t that be horrible? But the 49ers saw a way to get a returner on the cheap after Ginn was officially pronounced a bust this week, and were able to act quickly enough to snare him for pick No. 145. A fifth round pick for a former 1st rounder? Unless the guy is openly getting drunk and high at halftime, this could hardly be a bad plan. Plus, it gives the 49ers a deep threat, something they obviously need since Brandon Jones caught exactly one pass last season (and averaged 2.9 yards on 9 punt returns).

It’s not like fifth rounders are bad players. The 49ers got Scott McKillop with choice No. 146 overall last year, and Tarell Brown with pick No. 147 in 2007. Both are decent roster fillers, good for some special teams coverage and the occasional spot-start, but certainly not long term NFL starters. The fact the 49ers were able to pounce on Miami’s first round mistake from 2007 shows that maybe the team isn’t in such dire straits going into their most promising season in years after all.
And after the Scot McCloughan fiasco, I wasn’t alone in wondering if the 49ers had suffered a major setback that sent them closer to the Terry Donahue plague than the Bill Walsh era. Apparently, we were wrong.

This also means that the notion that the 49ers will be content to sit with the picks they currently have and go straight from their draft board is also a shaky assumption. Perhaps they package the two 1st rounders to move up and get Russell Okung, or surprise us all by going all-out for Eric Berry (I know the Niners need OL help in the worst way, but Berry is to this draft what Crabtree was to last year’s — the brightest talent at any position if you’ve watched ANY college football from the previous season. The idea of Berry and Willis working the middle of the field together is damned tempting, you have to admit). Or perhaps they trade down.

Whatever ends up happening, at least we know they won’t go off the menu and grab Spiller, who may or may not be better than Jhavid Best (Uh, Baalke? You can feel free to get Best if he’s available in the 2nd round. Thank you.). Who drafts running backs in the first round anymore anyway, unless Adrian Peterson is available? I was already looking forward to Thursday’s first round, now I’m beyond excited to know that I wouldn’t do a better job than the guy in charge. Now we do the dance of joy!

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