I was planning on writing a story titled “Trent Baalke is next in line to get dumped by Yorks” or something similar yesterday, but while driving on HWY 24 I saw an email pop up on the top of my phone’s screen (I wasn’t texting — just navigating through and around Bay Area traffic).
Subject: 49ers Name Tom Gamble Assistant General Manager
And there you have it. Prescient story ruined. Thanks, Jed. You just had to let the world know what I had already assumed over the weekend and for several weeks prior.
To be fair, I wasn’t the only one to make the startling declaration that Trent Baalke could be on the hot seat. Many fans have connected the dots, and Tim Kawakami expressed a similar lament to the one I had in the moments after the 49ers announced their new Assistant General Manager.
Gamble will replace Baalke within six months
That’s my prediction, and I’m sticking to it. If the 49ers start 0-6, Gamble could supplant Baalke as the team’s GM as early as October. If they meander to the finish, not looking absolutely terrible but never playing all that well either (finishing anywhere from 5-11 to 7-9), the change will take place a day or two after they lose to the Seahawks on Jan. 1 … if it doesn’t get leaked before then. (Insert winking emoticon.)
Most of us know little about Gamble other than his resume. The 49ers lovingly detailed Gamble’s accomplishments in yesterday’s press release, which also included this vote of confidence from the incumbent.
“Tom is an accomplished talent evaluator who grew up around the game of football,” said 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. “Having spent the last 28 years of his life in the NFL, his wealth of experience has been invaluable to our organization for almost a decade. Tom is a hard-working professional and more importantly a good man. We are excited he will continue to play an integral role in the development of our team.”
Before we start thinking about how they seem like such good buddies, and one would never directly or indirectly oust the other, remember what Baalke said five years ago.
- “I met this man six or seven years ago at a college All-Star game and I fell in love with his energy.”
- “He had passion. It really became evident that this guy had the ‘it’ factor. He had what we were looking for.”
- “This is the start of a new generation.”
- “What we have to do is bring back the culture of winning. He’s a guy who can lead the 49ers franchise back to where it rightfully belongs.”
OK, maybe Baalke didn’t call Jim Harbaugh “a good man,” but we should probably take Baalke’s niceties with a grain of NaCl. It’s not like Baalke makes any of these front office decisions anyway, and there have been five signals that the Yorks might think about parting ways — mutually, of course — with Baalke.
1. They’re running out of things to change (and people to blame)
Over the last couple years the 49ers have changed their stadium, uniforms (for a couple games a year, anyway), head coach (twice), starting quarterback, and Paraag Marathe’s title. Other than demoting Jed himself (ha!), there’s only one alteration left.
2. They tightened the purse strings
The 49ers have more available cap room than any other team with a roster that could use a lot of help. Does anyone think it was Baalke’s choice to be so frugal? Unless he’s saving up for one of the top free agents who won’t be available for another year, a GM will always spend as much as his budget will allow. However, GMs don’t set budgets.
It might be slightly more complicated than saying that the Yorks wouldn’t allow any excess spending on free agents because they’re cheap or they didn’t trust Baalke to make smart purchases. The 49ers aren’t a premium destination these days due to their quarterback situation and never ending turmoil. Plus, agents and players are easily spooked by the pay-as-you-go style of contracts the 49ers prefer.
However, rest assured — this argument that there were no Pro Bowl players available in free agency, and that’s why the 49ers effectively sat out, is pure spin. If Baalke was given the chance to spend, like he did on Torrey Smith a year earlier, he wouldn’t have hesitated. If this team keeps losing, he’s out of a job.
3. Chip Kelly is here to stay (for a while)
The 49ers’ new head coach signed a four-year deal worth a reported $24 million, so the Yorks would never consider making him a one-and-done guy like Jim Tomsula. And unless Baalke had a major change of heart in regards to his football philosophy, Kelly probably wasn’t his first choice. This decision, hiring an offensive-minded innovator with more than a few doubters throughout the league, seemed like Jed trying to channel his uncle when he hired Bill Walsh before Jed was born.
As we all know, Kelly and Gamble are known to be close. If things get rocky this season, as they almost surely will, Kelly and Gamble could be looked at as the duo to pull the 49ers out of their tailspin. Who knows, maybe that’s already how the Yorks see them.
4. Baalke deserves any and all scrutiny
One of Baalke’s most noteworthy draft choices is known for embarrassing the 49ers (Aldon Smith). Others either garnered media attention the 49ers surely didn’t want (Chris Borland), or simply annoyed them to no end due to flakiness and insubordination (Anthony Davis). His 2012 draft was one of the worst, if not THE worst, in franchise history. He wasted millions last offseason on Darnell Dockett, Shareece Wright and Reggie Bush, and the team has progressively gotten worse in three consecutive seasons.
Jed famously called Baalke “Trader Trent” during the 2015 draft, but what does he have to show for those trades? The 49ers have the NFL’s worst roster (on paper), meaning a lot of the young players he’s acquired need to prove their worthiness ASAP or Baalke is going to look even worse than he already does.
The Yorks also loved Tomsula, and had to admit a massive mistake when they fired him after his only season as head coach. Baalke escaped their wrath that time, but maybe they feel like Tomsula was forced to lead a team that never had a chance, due to several personnel decisions that didn’t turn out particularly well.
OK, I’ll put it another way. Do we really think the Yorks would pin 100% of the blame for Tomsula’s short, bumbling, failure-ridden tenure on themselves?
5. Jed doesn’t call him “Trenty B”
Just like he showed his love for Tomsula by calling him “Jimmy T,” we saw that kind of familial closeness after Jimmy T’s termination when Jed talked about Baalke.
There are very few general managers that have built championship-caliber rosters and I think it’s important that we have somebody with that experience and having a good staff around him, like [senior personnel executive] Tommy Gamble, like guys like that that have been there and done it that we can continue to build this thing because this is going to be a very important offseason for us.
I can already picture it, sometime around Jan. 3 or 4, 2017: “We expect to win Super Bowls. We haven’t achieved our goal in recent years, but I have the utmost faith that Tommy G and Chippy K will build, teach and mold a championship-caliber roster. A roster that wins with class. A roster that the faithful can be proud of.”
Actually, I pictured this press conference quote a few days ago, but Jed solidified this vision with yesterday’s announced promotion. Sometimes they make it so easy to figure out what will happen — and who they will scapegoat — next.
The biggest challenge the 49er franchise faces is the reputation around the league for treating coaches badly(Jon Harbaugh made sure that all coaches in the NFL know that story), not paying the players like other teams, and constant turmoil with players and the front office. Why would any free agent come here to play? Remember they won't overpay to get players too come here. Kelly doesn't have a good reputation around the league either. Unless York hires a highly respected football guy to run the organization and publicly announces he is backing away, I don't see much of a positive future for this organization. I have been reading all off season about this organization along with the Browns as the two worst and most dysfunctional organizations in the NFL and that players and agents don't want to have anything to do with these two teams. So they need to do a lot of work cleaning up their reputation before much success is coming their way.
The minute they brought in Gamble I was telling everyone that Baalke is gone after this year. Kelly will go to York and explain how he has very little talent to work with and that he and Tom can fix this if they get rid of the guy who can't draft skill position players and drafts way to many guys with questionable characters. This is a no brainer.
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If the York s want the 49ers to be a winning team, give Jed a corporate job counting paper clips and hire a football person to run the team!
I agree that Trent Baalke is on the "hot seat"! I also agree that Gamble will replace him at some point in the near future... probably at the end of the season. Now, for the past 10 years+, most analysts (if not all) and many fans have complained about the 49ers' lack of offense, specifically, the inability to score regularly in the Red Zone, the need for speedy, dangerous receivers...and a QB who can stretch the field. Many thought that Colin K. would be that QB (Harbaugh clearly saw that potential with his great arm) , but that hasn't materialized due to Colin's inability to continually improve and evolve. Once the competition saw Colin's weaknesses and learned how to contain him, Colin literally "ran out of magic tricks." Now Chip was hired as Head Coach! Why? Because all of Chip's teams have had "high-powered" offenses!
OK, that brings us to the "state of the 49ers". The Niners will improve on offense, and they're very likely to be more entertaining to watch! However, given that they have one of, if not the most difficult schedule in the NFL in 2016, I don't see them winning more than 5 or 6 games... but Chip will be fine! Why? Because the 49ers offense will show a great improvement...and will be entertaining (let's not forget that's the business of the NFL)! In the meantime, as the 2016 season moves along, Gamble's assignment will be to determine what positions need to be strengthened in order to become a playoff team in 2017. Gamble will be provided with that decision-making authority, with the notable assistance of Chip and his Staff...and Baalke will probably be gone in January. Therefore, the 2017 Draft PLUS the signing of key Free Agents next Spring will be the beginning of the 49ers return to the Playoff Picture... at least, that's the Plan as I see it!
I agree in principle to this article with this entire season being Tom Gamble learn on the job & it may be stretched into the Draft.
However, I do not believe Trent Baalke will fall on his sword similar to Tomsula.
I believe Trent will be promoted within the York hierarchy to another position above the level of 49er GM.
Trent has performed well as a GM given the shackles placed upon him after Levi Stadium was completed & SBL's sold to a unsuspecting public.
That the Yorks count success of the franchise by total dollars profit is an obvious truism.
Taking 1 look at the current Player Spending as per the CBL by which 2016 is year #4 which translates a minimum Cash Spending of 89% & you will notice the 49ers currently have $50 million available maximum but are on a 4 season average of 92%. Trading of Kaepernick & releasing A. Brooks will however reduce that percentage to spitting distance of the 89% minimum.
Next season Tom Gamble will be GM & if the 49ers do as poorly as the Pundits predict - a Franchise QB will be selected.
In truth this accomplishes 2 things - removes Trent Baalke from the Fans wrath, increases Fan interest with a new Franchise QB & best of all gives the Yorks a cheap rookie 5 season controllable QB at round & selection salary enabling further maximum profits.
@JFrenchRennier . I agree with some of what you say, but not the part about promoting Baalke. He will be this season's guy to fall on the sword - and rightly so. AND he has definitely NOT performed well as a GM (see 2012, and his propensity to mention players of "value"). I understand that York wants value over success if pushed, but drafting cripples and using a 5th round pick on a punter....well, that was not York - that was Baalke.
Here's a little piece of knowledge, the person doing the promoting makes the statement. If it had been Jed he would have issued the statement, since it was baalke we can glean that baalke did the promoting.
This is likely the power trio that is here to stay, Trent Tom and Chip making the football plans.
And no, Baalke has never on his history bid on the night name free agents, and it's worked out pretty good so far or have you forgotten guys like Goodwin, Whitner and Rodgers who made probowls for the 49ers, as well as other solid additions like Dorsey, Bethea, Manningham etc who played well and helped the team.
And don't site Jed being cheap as a reason not to spend salary Cap as none of that money will ever end up in his pockets. It's earmarked for the players it has to be spent on them according to the CBA. (Literally Google it that's how they split up the revenue) likely the reason that they didn't buy any free agents is because baalke has added more than 30 players in 3 years that chip and his staff have to evaluate, and the best way to do that is in live action. Then they can pick and choose the ones to build around. Adding a vet would impair the ability to do that, and would hamstring the rookies development (see 49ers reviewing Corp from 2012-2014) also it's hard to convince a veteran to go play for a rebuilding team.
But hey just write the same article as everybody else. Go put the click bait title up. God forbid you write anything different from everyone else.
@1962fordfalcon1962 your comment is utter nonsense
That comment is better than the whole article above it. Just because it runs contrary to the narrative media shoves down your throat dosent mean it's false.
But hey don't disprove any of the points or you know contribute to the conversation or anything.
Jeb can't deal with a big time leader/ winner that pushes him out of the way. Unlike his Uncle who understands what leadership means.
Bonus points for pulling out the periodic table.
The only possible flaw I can see in your theory is lil Jed won't want to admit that guys like you and TK are right, and so will hang onto Baalke beyond the sell-by date. Is York the Younger *that* arrogant and spiteful, with so much ego that he can't admit he messed up, even to the detriment of the franchise? (this is probably rhetorical)
Same sorta reasoning as your Yorks-don't-blame-themselves-for-Tomsula point, which I think is almost certainly accurate.
The problem with never admitting to or owning your mistakes is you never learn from them either.
@BASportsGuy that quote from the future press conference had me rollin. Spot on!!!
@BASportsGuy Irritating that a team with a $100 mil profit each year is "tightening the purse strings".
My Exclusive Preseason Predictions:
Harbaugh: 12 wins
Alex Smith: 11 wins
Scott McCloughan: 9 wins
Jed & Trent: 4 wins
Trump: 1 win
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@BASportsGuy Hasn't Gamble contributed to the roster problem just as much as Baalke? What would chance on his watch?
@BASportsGuy firing Trent will be the easiest decision Jed's ever made. And will be a fan favorite. Nobody believes in Baalke anymore.
@BASportsGuy it's like setting him up to be the scapegoat, he gets canned and Gamble spends big next offseason making him a hero
@BASportsGuy feel like not spending $ in FA is going to make it harder for Baalke to keep his job, we got no one, this team will suck
@BASportsGuy Don't wait at the mailbox for that 49ers press pass, it's not coming anytime soon. As transparent as Jed is, U don't need one.