49ers GM Trent Baalke, pass or fail?

This is my Sunday column.

What about Trent Baalke?

Sure, the 49ers probably will dump Jim Harbaugh at the end of the season. His quarterback isn’t improving and his offense stinks and he ticks people off. We get all that.

But what about Baalke? Who’s to say the Niners won’t dump him, too? What makes him worth keeping?

Let’s evaluate his contribution to the franchise. Let’s figure out how many key players he has added to the team. To help us, I brought in a guest speaker. His name is Sam Wyche. Say hello to Sam.

Mr. Wyche is the former head coach of the Bengals. Before that, he was an assistant coach on the 49ers’ first Super Bowl team. He helped develop Joe Montana.

Mr. Wyche, please explain how to grade a general manager, the person who gets the players.

Wyche: “You’d better have among the best players in the league at five positions if you want a chance to win the Super Bowl. If you don’t have those positions taken care of — all of them — your odds of winning the Super Bowl are really slim. Teams will attack your weakness if you don’t have those bases covered.”

Got it? If the general manager doesn’t get studs to play every key position, the team doesn’t have much of a chance to win the Super Bowl. I am grading the key positions on a simple pass-fail system.

Position No. 1.

Wyche: “Got to have a good quarterback. Rarely do you win the Super Bowl with an ordinary quarterback.”

GRADE: Fail. Colin Kaepernick currently is not good enough to win a Super Bowl — he proved that already. And he’s getting worse. His 78.6 passer rating in November was among the worst in the league. It was even worse than Robert Griffin’s rating, and Griffin got benched.

Kaepernick may improve, in which case so would Baalke’s grade. Or would it? How much credit does Baalke really deserve for drafting Kaepernick in 2011?

Based on conversations around the league I’ve conducted, draft gurus initially believed Baalke wanted to draft Christian Ponder. All of a sudden, Kaepernick showed up on the Niners’ radar when Harbaugh went to Reno to work him out. It makes you wonder.

Position No. 2.

Wyche: “You need a go-to guy on offense — running back, wide receiver, maybe it’s a tight end on occasion. Any guy that the defense has to double-team, they have to account for.”

GRADE: Pass, but barely. Anquan Boldin qualifies as a go-to guy. Defenses know the 49ers are going to throw the ball to Boldin on third down and they still can’t stop him. Baalke traded a 6th-round pick for him in 2013 – great trade, the best of Baalke’s career.

But Boldin already was proven. He already had gone to three Pro Bowls. His audition tape was the Super Bowl in which he destroyed the 49ers. Baalke didn’t have to discover Boldin or scout him or project how he would perform in the pros.

And one other thing. Boldin is no deep threat, cannot stretch the field. The 49ers don’t have someone like that – Vernon Davis has become the Invisible Man. So, Boldin is only a partial, some-of-the-time go-to guy.

Baalke never has drafted a go-to guy on offense. He has tried and failed 12 times. Check out the list: A.J. Jenkins, LaMichael James, Vance McDonald, Marcus Lattimore, Quinton Patton, Kendall Hunter, Carlos Hyde, Bruce Ellington, Anthony Dixon, Nate Byham, Kyle Williams and Ronald Johnson.

The best offensive players Baalke ever drafted were Mike Iupati and Bruce Miller – a guard and a fullback.

Position No. 3.

Wyche: “You need the backside tackle — the left tackle for a right-handed quarterback, the right tackle for a left-handed quarterback.”

GRADE: Pass, even though Baalke never actually acquired one. He inherited one of the best blind-side protectors in football, Joe Staley. Baalke had the good sense to extend his contract, and Baalke gets credit for that.

Position No. 4.

Wyche: “On defense, you need a dominating pass rusher, somebody they’ve got to slide the line to, they’ve got to chip, they’ve got to move their tight end over to help block. It could be a down linemen or it could be a linebacker if he’s coming off the edge.”

GRADE: Pass. Baalke drafted Aldon Smith. Most left tackles cannot block Smith one-on-one. Even Staley struggles to block Smith when they face off in training camp.

Position No. 5.

Wyche: “You also need a takeaway corner, someone you can put in man-to-man coverage on their best player, erase him, take him away, and you can double somebody else.

GRADE: Fail. The 49ers have average corners who play well against average wide receivers, but are over-matched against the NFL’s best. The Niners had no answer for Boldin in the Super Bowl, and that’s one of the reasons why they lost.

Last year, Baalke chose to spend his first-round draft pick on Eric Reid, a free safety — not one of Wyche’s five key positions. Reid went to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, but he has played just so-so this season. Instead of Reid, Baalke should have drafted Desmond Trufant or Xavier Rhodes. They are two of the best corners in the NFL right now, and they were available when Baalke picked Reid.

This year, Baalke did it again, drafted a safety instead of a cornerback in the first round. Baalke took Jimmie Ward, who’s on the Injured Reserve list, over Bradly Roby, who’s starting for the Broncos.

BONUS: Position No. 6.

Wyche: “The last position you might want to put in there is a defensive quarterback. That’s usually the middle linebacker, somebody that makes sure the defense is always in the right spot.”

GRADE: Pass. Baalke didn’t draft Patrick Willis, but he drafted NaVorro Bowman, one of the best inside linebackers in the league before he tore up his knee. And now that Bowman and Willis are injured, Michael Wilhoite has become the quarterback of the defense. And the defense is ranked No. 4, so Wilhoite must be doing a good job.

DOUBLE BONUS: Position No. 7.

There is one more key position Wyche forgot to mention – a kicker. A team better have a kicker who can make the easy field goals or that team is in trouble.

GRADE: Pass. Phil Dawson is one of the most accurate kickers of all time. None of the 49ers’ five Super Bowl teams had a kicker as good as Dawson.

FINAL GRADE: Incomplete.

Acquiring five out of seven key positions is good, but not good enough. Baalke is still searching for a franchise quarterback and a shutdown corner and a deep-threat receiver. He has shown no ability to find those players and the inconsistency of the 49ers reflects that.

If Baalke does not improve his performance in the next draft and free-agent market, let someone else find the key players. Baalke could be running out of time.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

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  1. He was not looking to draft Ponder , he was looking to draft Dalton. If your going to bash him at least get your info correct

  2. Pass all the way..It’s hard to knock the guy who keeps stocking this defense with very good players..yknow the defense that’s been keeping this team afloat..The Wr part I get..that’s my criticism of Baalke..but other than that..I’d keep him over Harbaugh…The offense is what’s been amiss..in all four seasons..That’s Harbaugh’s dept..and supposed specialty.

      1. Yeah htwaits…I gave these four years alot of thought..That’s why I say it’s a Harbaugh problem..Baalke is not the one gettin outcoached and outschemed every week..

  3. GC; “Let’s evaluate his contribution to the franchise. Let’s figure out how many key players he has added to the team.”
    SW; “You’d better have among the best players in the league at five positions if you want a chance to win the Super Bowl.”

    GC; “Acquiring five out of seven key positions is good, but not good enough.
    —————————-
    Ummmm…..when did it become 7 positions? When it became clear that your article wasn’t going to prove your point so you had to slant it a little?

        1. Coffee’s comment = fail. You won’t make it to the Super Bowl of trolling with comment preparation like that. Your reading comprehension is low. Mental mistakes. C’mon man!

          1. The coach said that you needed to pass 5 positions to make it to the Superbowl. According to Grant’s math he(Baalke) passed 5 positions. Regardless if they were “bonus” or not isn’t really the point. If Grant felt they were important enough to include then they were important enough to count. Baalke shouldn’t have received an “incomplete” grade after meeting the criteria of passing in 5 of the positions needed.

            And I’m the one with reading comprehension problems?

            1. Wyche said a team must have all of their bases covered — all of them. At first he said there were five bases. Then he added a sixth. Then I added a seventh.

  4. There is only one thing that’s kept this team from winning the Super Bowl a real quarterback Niners won’t win tell they get one end of discussion

    1. Colin Kaepernick is the only reason the 49ers were even in the Super Bowl or the NFC Championship game in Seattle last season.

      If we judge Colin so harshly by a few mistakes, how do we evaluate Peyton’s Super Bowl performance in 2014?

      1. I totally agree. It’s funny, Colin played great in the superbowl, the defense gave up 30+ points, secondary got torched on big plays and special teams gave up a kick return for a td. It’s a team game. Look at Rothlisbergers first superbowl which he won, he was TERRIBLE, colin was light years better, but Rothlisberger had more help, it’s not so black & white. Colin also played lights out on the road against Atlanta coming back from a 19 point deficit. Why do peoples memories not go back beyond two weeks?

  5. So Grant, how could you let Mr. Wyche (you’re the only person on the planet who calls him that; its Sam.) off the hook by leaving off Slot Corner? Gadzooks Man! You bloviated about that requirement for 6 months! Is it now not important? OR were you wrong then and right now?
    It was nice of Sam to stop by and chat with you, Grant. So what were his grades on Baalke & Harbaugh when you spoke with him? Could you relate to us his take on Ray McDonald? Ray Rice? The newest CBA? Colin Kaepernick? Jim Harbaugh? The current spate of rain storms in Nor Cal? Just wuzzup with your old buddy Mr. Wyche these days? Are he and Charlie Summers still great friends?

  6. Grant I have a question for you , who would Niners likely look at for an offense Cordinator in the off-season if Roman in gone ? And would they try talk Bill Cowher out of retirement

          1. I’m not sure the fool will be allowed a choice with Fangio. His track record suggests that he enjoys working for the Harbaugh brothers. He has been working for one or the other since 2006.

  7. Watching the Baylor game. I haven’t seen his name mentioned too often, but what’s the general consensus on Bryce Petty? He’s looking pretty good so far. Really nice slant pass near the goal line.

  8. On that Boldin trade, the facts will get lost to history, but it makes for a great sounding anecdote, “Baalke got Boldin for a sixth rounder”. But that oversimplifies what happened. It was effectively a free-agent signing in which the Niners also had to throw in the draft pick.
    The Ravens did not have the cap room to sign Boldin for what he wanted. He would only accept a trade to a Super-Bowl contender that had enough cap room to pay him. He was going to retire if that didn’t happen. The Niners were the only team at that point that could fit his demands.
    As for Baalke’s grades, I’m thrilled with his eye for defensive talent, I have no complaints there. Offense, groan…
    And Grant you didn’t mention the relationship with York, that bodes well for his future with the organization.

  9. Baalke picked up Gabbert for not much more than Boldin cost. I think he will be better than Kaepernick was for the 9ers if he is resigned. Deep threat receivers are overrated. Most of the team`s receivers wouldn`t be caught from behind if they get a step on the defender.

      1. Grant:

        This is something I’ve wondered about. Doesn’t any NFL receiver trying to run downfield force the defense to cover him? Wouldn’t quickness be better or at least as effective for avoiding jams at the LOS.

        1. Yes, but a good deep threat demands to be double-covered. If a safety is shaded to double cover an outside receiver, he’s not in the box.

            1. Your observation is dead on. Unfortunately it’s the OC that seems to get most of the flack for the lack of offensive production.

              Initially I liked Kaepernick his first 1/2 season and figured he’d only get better. After I read that he casually dismissed some of Joe Montana’s suggestions during that off season I grew concerned. All that adoring media attention was exactly what a 25 year old immature kid didn’t need. Nearly 2 seasons later he’s pretty easy to recognize. At best here will be a long wait for him to develop into that franchise quarterback we all hoped we were getting. It won’t be next year and I doubt he will be on the 49ers if it ever does happen

      2. I think you are bang on regarding the deep threat, Grant. It is why I was so keen to see them draft a deep threat WR early this year. Baalke has not done a good job finding a such a WR, and the offense is the poorer for it.

        1. Maybe taking the top off isn’t a Baalke priority. That might be an area of disagreement between Baalke and Harbaugh, especially in the 2013 draft.

          1. I disagree. I think if anything it is the other way around. Baalke was the one that drafted Jenkins to add speed. He was the one that signed Moss to add a downfield threat. There are strong rumours that Baalke wanted Odell Beckham this year. I think Baalke is keen to add a speed element to this offense, but it hasn’t worked out.

            1. With Trent I like to remember his background with Parcells. Many of his decisions can be viewed in that context. With that in mind, Original Tuna liked the deep threat plenty. He just didn’t want to be mainly aerial due to late season and playoff weather.
              I evoke the Fangio/Mills era of Saints, and also Ravens D., when trying to gain perspective on Vic.

            2. When has AJ shown any ability to take a defense deep with either team. The only way to get a player like Beckham is have a really bad year and then find the right guy in the draft. Or, find someone outside of the top ten players. Baalke hasn’t done that. Like some think that Harbaugh has to dump Roman, Baalke has to get some scouting help with finding impact offensive players. Of course he has to listen to his scouts too.

              The real, long term, problem is ownership because they haven’t brought in a level headed center of football power into the organization. There is no football knowledge above Baalke.

              1. When has AJ shown an ability to do anything well with either team? Yes, he flopped, doesn’t change the reasons he was drafted, one of which was to provide a deep threat with his sub-4.4 speed.

                There is no question Baalke has failed so far when it comes to finding a good WR that can take the top off a D. But I think blanket statements along the lines of he can’t judge talent when it comes to offensive skill positions are premature, and primarily based on one very bad draft in 2012.

              2. @htwaits

                Are you suggesting that we add another layer of ‘overhead’ to an already cramped Front office ? What we need, is a real ‘Turk’ with a sharp scimitar who will clean out the dead wood, and fill the spaces with the best FA’s available.

      3. True enough…but it helps when the receiver has a QB that can complete a pass or two to him in order to move that defender from the box….something we do not have

      4. Grant, Baalke tried getting those kind of guys in Aj Jenkins and Lamichael James. The coaching staff just never likes small players on offense. He has been very smart in his contracts to like kaep, getting better replacements for less money with Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson. Its harbaugh that has been unable to help this offense. I am sure Baalke is frustrated when you trade for a guy of the pedigree of Stevie Johnson and he barely sees the field

    1. +1. Reminds me of little Jimmie Ward vs. a one-legged Brandon Marshall in the Bears loss. Like the little kid flailing while the big kid palms his head with a stiff-arm, laughing. Cringe-worthy. Thanks for adding another midget to the roster, Trent.

      1. At this point I’d take my chances on Gabbert over Kaepernick. Especially for the Seattle game. Kaepernick has numbers over the past month that are similar to Gabberts last season. Gabbert however played on a horrid team. It won’t happen because everyone would have to admit they were wrong on Kaepernick. Who likes to be wrong?

    1. If you’re giving Kaepernick only one more year, you better get his replacement this year. Remember it’s win the Superbowl or you’ll be fired by tweet.

    2. Grant

      In answer to your question “who’s gonna’ replace him?” I think that Gabbert should be given a shot…even though he wasn’t successful in Jaxville, Who would have been? He knows what starting at QB in the NFL is about, and he doesn’t appear to be freaked-out to play behind our O-line. He has pocket discipline and presence (not a runner). Let’s see just what 2 million will buy in todays game….

    1. Next article he rates Jed and John York. Then he’s on to Jerry Brown, Barack Obama, and Vladimir Putin. That’ll put him over the top and he’ll get a Talk Show that comes on right after Jerry Springer.

  10. if we had a accurate qb who knew his reads then Brandon Lloyd would be that deep threat he has only hit him once rest of the time over throws or under throws and needs to read better we live and die by Kap and it is showing that he is not improving but seriously declining

    1. How does an accurate quarterback throw deep balls when he’s on his back half the time behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league?

      1. He’s not an accurate QB….he consistently misses basic throws an NFL QB makes…not necessarily by over or under throwing, but by not seeing the open receiver….he holds the ball too long, hasn’t been able to figure out the reads, runs out of the pocket to run, rather than throw a receiver open….the guy is a good athlete with a strong arm, but probably should have chosen baseball over football….he’s reached his summit, it’s done.

      2. come on, man. Kap is ‘on his back’ because he doesn’t move the ball quickly. Thru 7 games (someone else’s post from PFF), he was #3 in most time in pocket. The best QBs throw it quickly. Watch the first play of the Raiders game… he can’t pull the trigger on a quick throw to the right where we had 3 routes (the short one to Miller was open for a 2+ yard gain), he then feels pressure, rolls left, and throws a turd. He can be accurate when he’s untouched in the pocket, but so can everyone else at the position. He lacks touch and he never seems to see guys coming open within the scheme of the offense. He is phenomenal in a system that gives him a quick, easy read and an outlet to run, but every DC now cuts off the short stuff, rushes with guys in their lanes, and Kap holds the ball until the D gets through. He’s a great athlete with a brain too small for the position

  11. Wow! The niners should hire GC. He would have drafted a great reciever and QB and the team would have a bunch of Super Bowls! You are wasting your talents Grant.

  12. I always had a feeling Kap was JH guy and not so much Baalke. Reid was also a JH guy. Harbs recruited him at stanford. Baalke has had some successes but some very high profile Fups.

    Success: Bowman, lynch, Aldon along with willis comprise the best LB squad in the NFL. Borland is pretty good also. Reid is a probowler. Bethea will probably make the probowl this year. S johnson has shown signs of pretty goodness. Baalke has been able to find talent deep in the draft.

    Fups: 2012 draft. The redshirt strategy – tank, lattimore etc. His biggest fup is his inability to bring in an offensive playmaker. Is he averse to speed? Like I have said before speed is seattle’s kryptonite. Djax, tyHilton and Jamaalcharles all had big games against seahawks. We need a fast receiver who can catch a jump ball. We have plenty of possession receivers.

    Oh, and we also need to readdress the TE position this offseason . I think we need to draft 2 in the next draft like we did with VD and delanie. Vance mac isn’t going to work out and VD seems to have given up.

    Also like i have said before, baalke needs to recuse himself from drafting offesive players. bring in or hire an expert.

    1. Just a small tiny not important at all point. With the exception of quarterback, Baalke determines who is on the 53 man roster year around.

      1. I dont dispute baalke was the administrator who drew up contracts for kap and reid, but they would not be on the niners if not for harbaugh

  13. Overall I think it is fair to say Baalke has done a good job finding talent. Not a brilliant job, as there are some areas he has struggled to find the right players, or the right mix of players, in particular WR. But the team has a lot of young talent to work with moving forward.

    I disagree with your take on the CBs. First of all I disagree with your (and Sam Wyche’s) take that they need a shut down type CB (or take-away CB). I don’t think the shutdown CB is as important as many fans like to think it is, especially on a D that plays a system like the 49ers. Not saying you can get by with scrubs, you need some good, athletic CBs, but they don’t need to be elite level man-cover CBs. Second of all I disagree they have struggled to find talent at the position. I think they have done a good job finding guys to play CB. This year is a prime example – they’ve had little help from the pass rush for much of the year, and had a bunch of guys without much of a reputation playing the position, yet they have done a very good job.

    1. Scooter:

      Agree, except that I think Baalke has realized that he and his staff (I’m assuming he gets advice) are poor at drafting wide receivers. He’s made excellent pickups in Boldin and Stevie Johnson (who I expect to replace Crabtree). Less risk because they have proven themselves. The next step would be to be able to get a good fast receiver via trade or free agent pickup. Probably harder than picking up a possession receiver, but hope springs eternal (we did have a shot at DJax, but if I recall money was the main issue).

      Also, Ellington may yet turn out to be very good. Even if we had gotten OBJ, I’m not sure that ultimately he would have seen the kind of playing time he has with the Giants because of Boldin, Crabs and Lloyd (we got Lloyd before the draft didn’t we). My point is that he probably wouldn’t have had the opportunities with the Niners like he has with the Giants (after he came back from his injury).

      1. Cubus, I completely agree that most rookie WRs wouldn’t have been seeing much playing time anyway. Its something I’ve said numerous times previously. I think a guy like Beckham is an exception (as are a few others). He’s too good to not be getting a go. At the 49ers he’d likely be the 3rd WR, and I think playing more than Johnson does as he provides a different skill set. Keep in mind they also wouldn’t have traded for Johnson if they’d drafted a WR first round.

        I think the whole idea that Baalke does a poor job ID’ing WR talent is a bit of a fallacy. He hasn’t had great success by any means, which is where the idea comes from, but we’ll never know how many good WRs he identifies that end up getting taken by other teams before he can get them. End of the day he’s only used one high draft pick on a WR. It was a failure, but you can’t draw a firm conclusion either way on that.

        1. Then, like any average poker player, Baalke is not gauging his opponents accurately or he would know when to go after a wide receiver. Maybe he didn’t think that the 2013 draft was as rich in receivers as the rest of the NFL did.

    2. Quite right, Scooter. Fangio kinda proved that when he arrived and got solid play out of a secondary that had been mediocre prior to that. Guys like TBrown and CRogers suddenly looked pretty reliable.

      1. How many DBs were they missing in that game, Grant? Didn’t Brock give up a lot of catches and yards that game, his first back from a toe injury, only to then be out injured with the same toe injury the next game? I think there were some mitigating circumstances, to say the least.

        And how many teams have been torched by Denver even when fully healthy?

        1. Perrish Cox and Dontae Johnson each gave up a touchdown catch against Denver.

          Seattle’s corners didn’t give up any TD catches to Denver’s receivers and they held Demaryius Thomas to 3 catches for 31 yards earlier this season.

              1. From recollection, Thomas mostly destroyed an underdone and likely still hurt Brock.

                You are using one game to show the 49ers CBs can’t contain top WRs. There is no question the Denver offense pulled the 49ers D apart that game, but they were down a lot of players, and not just in the secondary. And it is really the only time this year they have been roasted.

                They have played against Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Jeremy Maclin, Desean Jackson, Martellus Bennett, Jimmy Graham, Odell Beckham… a lot of the top WRs this year. Only Thomas really had big yardage day against them. Graham and Marshall had a few TDs, but didn’t do much else. All in all the DBs have done a pretty good job keeping the top WRs relatively quiet.

              2. The Niners have no answer for Michael Floyd. Brandon Marshall caught three TDs against the Niners. Jeffery beat Culliver deep once. Dez Bryant didn’t show up. Bennett and Graham are tight ends. Beckham had 93 yards against the Niners and beat Cox deep.

              3. There are a lot of teams wishing they had a secondary, and CBs, performing as poorly as the 49ers have done this year against those players.

              4. How many teams would want the Niners’ corners if they didn’t also get the Niners’ front-seven and Vic Fangio?

              5. So 3 of the 11 teams the 49ers have faced have WR’s that have given them trouble and only 2 of those teams won the game.

                It’s true they don’t have a shut down corner, but that’s not why they’re 7-5 right now.

              6. Good question Grant, and one we may well find out the answer to this coming offseason as Culliver and Cox are FAs.

                You have summed up quite nicely why the 49ers D doesn’t need a shut down CB. Nice to have, sure, but in the end they can get by quite well with good athletes with some length that can tackle and run. An over-simplification, obviously they need to have some coverage skills, but you get my point.

              7. Yes, they get by quite well. But it’s a weakness that can be exploited. It cost the Niners in the Super Bowl and it could cost them again this year in the playoffs if they get there.

              1. Yes, it really was. There really wasn’t much Johnson could have done. A shame, because he actually had pretty good coverage on that play until then.

      2. How hard is this to understand? Earlier Grant praises Vic by saying any new HC would be crazy to not want to retain him. Now Grant seems to not acknowledge that Vic’s genius is in getting guys at all three levels to perform in concert. He’s never placed overweight value on the CB position. Would he enjoy having Revis in his back 4? Well duh, but if it was his player or salary budget he wouldn’t overspend at that position.

        1. Bingo. Baalke follows the same belief as Ozzie Newsome when it comes to building a D. And they both got their beliefs from Belichick/ Parcells. Its a proven formula.

          Look at the great Ravens D of the not too distant past. Good, run stuffing DL, great ILB, strong pass rush, and great safety play, with tall athletic CBs. When you think of the Ravens D of that time, it isn’t the CBs you remember, because they weren’t the elite players.

        2. Having a coach like Donatell teaching the cornerbacks allows you not to have to target an elite shut down defensive back. Raw skills at the position is all he needs to mold and shape into a quality performer for Vic’s defense….

    3. I completely agree Scooter. The term shutdown corner is so overused. At any given time in the NFL there is 1 maybe 2 shutdown corners in league. Currently there is Sherman and maybe Revis. Teams are not going to throw away from any other cb in the league and even in their case if you have AJ Green, Dez Bryant, Charles Johnson or Antonio Brown don’t expect the qb to just ignore those players. Especially with the new rules in place.

  14. I doubt Darrell Bevel is a hot commodity. His offense survives because Marshawn can’t be tackled and Wilson can improvise…other than that, it’s pretty weak.

  15. Trufant is a a very good young player but saying Rhodes is one of the league’s best corners is a stretch. He’s good. But not in that category.

  16. Which all leads to a conclusion that we know but rarely state: Baalke needs to go, and Harbaugh deserves the power and control he desires. THE END.

    1. Harbaugh and Baalke should stay and a real football man put in power over them. That might make them more productive and keep the kid way from tweet button.

      1. htwaits— Bingo! We have a winner. That was my take early last season when I stated that the problem was they were both relatively inexperienced in their jobs. Especially in putting together a valid 53 man roster. The musical chairs they played with the roster during the season reflected that.

            1. I don’t see that, but I could be wrong. I’d take him only if there wasn’t a better option at another position.

      1. Not wrong. I’m finding it hard to get too excited about any of the QBs likely to be available. Connor Cook, Garrett Grayson and Shawn Carden may be worth a look.

        If Winston wasn’t a head case he’d easily be the pick of the bunch.

          1. He’s easily got the most natural talent as a QB, in my opinion. But I think he’ll flop in the NFL. It doesn’t appear he has the right attitude to succeed, to maximise his talent.

              1. Winston has thrown 61 TDs and 27 INTs in 25 starts.

                Mariota has thrown 101 TDs ans 12 INTs in 39 starts.

              2. The only QB prospect that I think could develop into a quality NFL starter is Hundley, and that’s only after he has sat and developed behind another QB for 2-4 years.

            1. Two years in college and his rap sheet includes…
              1. rape (allegedly)
              2. Stealing Crab legs
              3. Taking money for signing multiple footballs (yeah, he apparently didn’t take any money for it, I don’t buy it )
              4. yelling obscenities about a woman on campus

              I wouldn’t touch this kid.

        1. No love for Petty. I’m watching the Baylor game and he has excellent deep ball accuracy; actually he has excellent accuracy in general. I haven’t really watched him throughout the year so maybe this game is an anomaly. He also had a nice look away play early on where I was sure he was going to throw it to his left to his wide receiver behind the LOS (the ten yard line), but instead through a perfect slant to his left to a receiver at the one yard line.

      2. I like Keller Chryst’s high school footage, but it will be years away from any draft.

        I actually loved Faulkner’s footage and as surprised he didn’t make the squad. To speculate a bit, his footage is missing passes with velocity. The arm could be the culprit.

      3. Grant, what do you think about the 2015 WR draft class? If its half as deep as the 2014 WR class, I’ll be happy.

        The 49ers still haven’t replaced the edge speed capabilities they (hoped) AJ Jenkins would bring. That’s 4 years and counting without a scary deep threat WR.

        If the 2015 class is weak, the 49ers really missed an opportunity last spring to fix a glaring weakness.

  17. Grant, out of 64 starting corner backs, how many are “…a takeaway corner, someone you can put in man-to-man coverage on their best player, erase him, take him away.” ?

    I totally agree about the value of a takeaway corner. A “true shutdown corner” will transform a defense. The advantages are too numerous to list. Its like having 12 men on defense.

    But at any given season, there are between 0-3 in the entire NFL. A player that fits the Position 5 description is rare. There are usually more “elite” quarterbacks then there are true shut-down corners.

    In the absence of a true shutdown corner (the case for the vast majority of teams) Baalke seems to have implemented the older Steelers model emphasizing smart, athletic safeties with good range. Combined with disciplined corners a little pressure on quaterbacks, its deadly.

    The “rangy safeties” model doesn’t have the advantages of a true shutdown corner, but its worked on many great defenses.

    1. Sherman and Revis qualify. Vontae Davis and Chris Harris are having great seasons. Trufant and Rhodes are pretty close. They may become shutdown corners soon.

      1. Yup. Hate to say it, but Sherman allows Seattle to stack the box.
        If its a run, the extra player fills a gap.
        If its a pass, the extra player blitzes or drops into lurk coverage.

        True shutdown corners have incredible value. Maybe even more then elite pass rushers.

  18. Baalke stays, Harbaugh stays, Roman stays, Ck stays for at least one more year. Reason, these four people are the best chance to win a SB next year. The 50th at Levi stadium, you no damn well they want to play in it next year.
    Change of coaching staff or QB would diminish there chances greatly. I think they go all out during the spring to try to make that happen.

    1. ‘Baalke stays. Harbaugh stays. Roman stays. Kaepernick stays at least one more year’
      + Fans r-e-l-a-x. (“Chill” for you Hipsters).

      *What? It could happen!

      1. I don’t often agree with Ann, but I do here:

        ” The void: There is something missing in the 49ers’ organization. It’s the voice of maturity and reason. The presence that can see the big picture. The entity that would broker peace with Harbaugh and not be intimidated by him, that would advise Kaepernick, that would communicate to the public in an adult fashion.

        Other organizations have such a presence: the Warriors’ Rick Welts, the Giants’ Larry Baer. The 49ers once had two of the best — the tandem of Carmen Policy and John McVay. Their jobs were to protect the coach from the outside noise, not contribute to it. To caretake the image of the organization. To put out fires, not start them.

        The 49ers don’t have such a presence. Trent Baalke is invisible. So is Paraag Marathe. The 49ers are left with odd personalities, pulling in different directions, making news for all the wrong reasons.”

        Ann Killion

        1. hwaits: That and your previous post on the subject is over the heads of most of the posters on this site. While they might understand some of the individual pieces that comprise the game of football, they are oblivious to the synistry necessary for them to operate effectively. It was obvious to me that there was a problem in this regard before the 2013 season even began. That was why I posted that TB and JH were not a good combination because they were both really rookies and needed someone with experience to guild them. I also posted that TB was the wrong sort of personality for a GM position. He had the wrong personality for the top job but would be more competent if he had someone who gave him oversight and he also was accountable too. Oh yes, his OCD while not being the problem exclusively is indeed part of the equation.

          All those things are becoming more obvious now because the “chickens have come home to roost”. The consequences of the lack of direction due to a void in leadership are manifesting. The idea is to be able to recognize and mitigate potential problems BEFORE they happen. They Niner’s have been like a rudderless ship with each faction focused on their individual directions. The GM is a major part of the problem, but the guy who oversee’s him is the owner, so it ultimately falls on him. I have oft seen this problem repeated in Professional sports organizations. The owner becomes enamored with a guy and can not see their inherent flaws until things begin to fall apart. Then for a while everything but the actual problem is dealt with first before if ever the light actually comes on. The major problem with the Niners is at the structural organizational level.

        2. McVay and his peacemaking and stabilizing presence were always invisible to press and public. His influence was described much later. So Killion’s invisible comment is as feckless as the rest of the stuff she writes. Seriously, AK’s got squat; she has no dang idea what’s going on behind the scenes. She and TK amaze me with their presumptions. They don’t even know what’s going on behind the closed doors of their own newspapers management let alone the closed doors of the Raiders or Niners. Poppycock.

    2. Harbaugh has flaws. Big ones actually. His late decision making is abysmal.

      But he’s a very good overall coach. I want Harbaugh to stay in part because his absence would might mean breaking up a very good assistant coaching staff.

      If he does fly the coop (he might choose to leave after all), I don’t Baalke hiring a coach that does away from the power “win the middle” Parcells system. Balance. Run. Play action. If the potential HC doesn’t fit that description, might as well cross him off your list.

  19. Off Topic-
    Watching the Springsteen Tribute on KQED9. Y’all know this Tom Morello guy? I haven’t been this excited about a guitar player since I ran across Satriani years ago. Whew! Ripmaster Magnum Extreme! Check this dude out.

  20. Grant dreams: …
    “…Position No. 1.

    Wyche: “Got to have a good quarterback. Rarely do you win the Super Bowl with an ordinary quarterback….”

    Let’s check the history books a little, Grant …

    How many Super Bowls has Wyche been involved in ..
    (ya know .. as a Head Coach…?)

    And how many of those many many Super Bowls ..
    did he actually WIN ???

    Yeah … I’d say … He’s the right guy
    to be askin’ how to win one ..

    fer sure !!

      1. Look at the list of SB winning teams. Some of the QBs weren’t exactly HoF candidates. Dilfer, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien. Long list.

  21. Pass or Fail: Mangini. He came in as TE coach to lead us to the worst performing TE unit in football. FAIL! Is this why his name came up as a head coach candidate in the comments section of a different post? Anything to get him out of the TE coach position!?

    *That’s sarcasm htwaits in case you didn’t recognize it

    1. Eddie D ..

      correct me if I’m wrong … but wasn’t his first
      gig with the Niners as a “defensive consultant” to
      G-Ro ? …
      After that … wasn’t he then … “promoted”
      (or “demoted” … depending on your point of view)
      to coaching up the TEs ?

  22. It’s sad to see our 49ers in this situation. killing is not the answer and if this is not handled NOW we are in another decade of not making the playoffs. Why, he is simple not getting it and Greg Roman really sucks and we lost a super bowl and a 2nd chance becuase if him. Many could say, players need to execute -yes, but when you had a Frank gore just knocking out of the universe and a few yard out, Greg stupid Roman calls the dumbest plays if no we history….
    I’d rather we keep The coach and get rid of Balke. Who are we going to get to replace JH, I can wait all year long and there isn’t a good option.
    Since day 1 Trent and JH have been going at it.
    Jed -grow an f’g pair and get a good GM and get out of daddy’s sack. Be your own man.
    49ers joke of a front office needs to sit down, bite the billet and see if they can save the window or they will be just as plain as any other bad team. Psst Jed -look at the Warriors.

    They will lose great players to free agency, becuase why would they want to be here and be part if “what should have been”? They will begin having great players that lost their step and can no longer really compete .

    So Jed
    What the F are you going to do ?
    1-grow a pair and make the right decisions ?
    2-be daddy’s little follower?

  23. I stated before that I was going to give TB a break because I had pretty much stated my opinions in his respect. But this is a thread devoted to that subject so I will again comment. Now lets get one thing straight. I am not calling for the replacement of TB because who would you replace him with. Also it is also very possible that he can and has learned form his mistakes. He has shown growth in that respect. Although replacing him might fix some issues.

    Not going to focus on TB as it pertains to his competency in respect to leadership and direction as GM in this post since I have already made my self clear on that point earlier in this thread. I think those problems can be corrected as “Ann” has suggested.

    I think in respect to evaluating a GM’s acquisitions one needs to not only consider what they end up with but what their options were and the resources available to acquire them. There are some acquisitions that are really no brainers while some are clever and smart choices.

    I have always felt tha TB and co. have made some very good late round choices. The same could not be said for their top picks. Now what is the difference? I suspect it’s because there is not as much pressure picking in the lower rounds. To much emphasis on looking good rather than just doing a competent job. I suspect that is why they had too many whiffs the past couple of drafts. They were looking to hit home runs by finding the so called “diamonds in the rough” that the other teams missed. AJ was the worst example of that. McDonald was another. TB tends to see his job as a competition with the other GM’s which he always wants to one up them. The posturing with the envelope after drafting AJ was his “victory dance in the end zone.” His motivation derives from insecurity and wanting to constantly to prove himself.

    Some picks were no-brainers. Boldin fell into the Niner’s laps. And to some degree Johnson as well. Now Aldon Smith choice while not exactly a no brainer as a good choice was mitigated by the fact that Watts was also available. Most would have gone with Watts and is is arguable that he might have been the better choice. They were also very high picks. I think if you are picking in the early first round they should be good players. It’s more so if they don’t produce you whiff is bigger. You don’t get the credit for making a good pick. The odds are in your favor. That would apply to Iopati.

    This last draft was a good talent acquisition draft for the Niners because they got some good players. I do question if it was the best they could have done considering their available options. As most would NOW acknowledge the probably should have gone for a WR. That was an opportunity missed. They had the resources ( later picks being valuable because of a deep draft) and a WR talent rich class, to get a good receive with less cost than it will surely take in any draft in the near future. I sort of suspect that they didn’t go for another receiver because of the whiffs in the previous draft they wanted to play it safe. TB couldn’t afford to strike out again. He mostly acts in respect to his own future rather than the teams immediate needs. He could sort of justify his not going for the receiver with a degree of success with the picks he got. Lynch was a great pick and so was Borland. Also liked Ellington. Johnson as well but he was a late pick. But where they were chosen would not have interfered with going after another receiver. They still would have had the picks to get most of their more successful picks. I would have traded some of next years picks to move up.

    The major flaw I see with TB and his staff is that they are constantly swinging for the fences. The try to get deals by going for IR players that fall lower than they would ordinarily fall. This falls into the category of opportunity because of circumstance. Great idea if it works out, but none of those have yet to show any return. Everyone makes mistakes but it isn’t the mistake that is telling but the rational behind it. If the rational is sound the mistake is just a one time thing. If the rational is flawed the mistake will be constantly repeated. If believe most of their whiffs reflect a flawed rational. That is the idea that they can coach up a player who shows flaws already in college (AJ) Or they can covert an average player into an NFL player by changing their position (McD or Ward). Good idea but you don’t do that with a player picked in the first or second round. You want low -risk high reward not high risk- high reward. You gain nothing that way even if it pans out. The odds are you will usually lose.

    Another thought. I sign of a franchise in disarray is when they are constantly changing the QB. This organization has far more problems than replacing one player would fix even if that player were a problem. Those organizations who have been bottom feeders for years are constantly drafting QB’s in the higher rounds out of desperation. Still they stay as bottom feeders. Doing that is more a sign that the organization is in disarray than the fact that they have a problem at QB. The QB is just the most convenient scape goat who’s replacement provides the hope of a quick fix for immediate gratification inclined fans.

  24. Others may have mentioned this, but the more I think about it, it seems that Harbaugh may be stunting Kaepernick’s growth. His constant, effusive praise probably means that Colin thinks he is doing just fine and doesn’t need outside assistance (Young, Garcia, etc.) during the offseason. Maybe another HC, particularly Fangio who tells it like it is, would strongly suggest to Colin that he needs to work with a quarterback specialist during the offseason.

    1. Cubus, in today’s game I think it makes sense to go with Gabbert in the second half if we are ahead by a lot or if we are behind. If we are behind, it’s a no brainer. We just have to win this game. Try anything. If we are ahead by a lot, there’s reason to give Gabbert more game experience. I know it’s not all on Kaep, but to win the last three games they will have to unleash him, which is good reason to use the opportunity they have to get Gabbert game-ready.

      1. George:

        Agree. I also would not have a problem with Gabbert starting against Seattle, particularly if Kap plays poorly today. Seattle has proven to be Kap’s kryptonite and seems to be in his head. It’s also unlikely that Seattle would be prepared for Gabbert.

        But, I think there is a risk. Remote possibility of quarterback controversy; higher probability of detrimentally affecting Colin’s confidence. And, of course, we might all remember why we weren’t impressed with Gabbert during the preseason.

  25. Yes, changes need to be made. In the meantime, we would do well to remember that these Niners have been to 3 straight NFC Championship Games and a 4th is still possible. The sky might be falling, but there is still a bit of light.

    1. @kniles Nuckles

      Maybe it would do us some good to forget that we have been to 3 straight NFC championship games and one Super Bowl….There are no new Lombardi’s in the trophy case to hang our hats on…That is HISTORY! What have they done for us lately…? Think change

  26. If Trestman wants to have a successful team he’ll need to convince the front office to let him draft someone to replace Jay “The Coach Killer” Cutler. Give him a chance to prove if he can in fact groom a QB, most of his opportunities so far he’s come into teams with an established QB.

  27. Guys like Adrian Peterson and Ray McDonald among a few others need to get together and go beat the living crap out of Ray Rice for creating such a cluster fudge for the rest of them. Peterson is paying for all of them at this point and its BS.

  28. Quarterback: Incomplete That was a Harbaugh call. Its too early to tell
    Goto guy: Fail. Everyone Balke has drafted has not proven themselves as goto guy Anquan trade was orchestrated by Harbaughs.
    Left tackle: Incomplete. He did not draft one
    Pass rusher: Pass. He has had several people on this
    Takeaway corner: Fail. Although Dontae might prove to be the right one in 2015
    So in my books he is 1 of 5

  29. Jack I disagree with you on Mariota, well not completely, he would do fine with Chip Kelly. Other then the Eagles I tend to agree with you. Most Oregon QBs don’t translate to the pros. Fouts did, and Harrington I think would of he had been on a team other then the Lions.

    1. Undercenter – Maybe you are too young to remember, but a guy by the name of Norm Van Brocklin was pretty good in the NFL, and he, too, was an Oregon Duck and an East Bay high school product, to boot.

      1. Mike – Its just the opposite getting too old to remember, yes of course Norm Van Brocklin, I remember his pro career, to young to remember his career at Oregon.

          1. I got to know Bob Berry a bit when he lived here in northern Nevada. We bonded as Duck fans. Watched a few Duck games with him on the tube a few years back. A great guy.

            The player that I compare Marcus Mariota to is Russell Wilson despite the roughly 5 inches of difference in height.

          2. Also, let’s not forget another former Duck QB–Norval Turner. Fouts backup at Oregon. Didn’t play in the NFL but a long coaching career. Another Duck I got to know a little. A class act if there ever was one.

  30. While we’re roasting Greg Roman I’ll throw this in:
    Howie Long just characterized GRo’s power run scheme as brilliant.
    Then he and the others had to remark that JH/GR/CK haven’t made the passing game go “for whatever reasons.”

    1. It’s now what the reason is. How many times do I have to hit you guys over the head with it? Kaep ain’t picking it up. His rookie year was all for nothing because he didn’t win it all. The element of surprise is gone.

    1. Although in some circles it may be cute to have a palindrome for a head coach, would the offensive philosophy be that much different than what they have in Harbaugh?

        1. Will he pull a Carroll and rebuild? That’s what the 49ers need to do and maybe the fan base will start having fun watching the team again. They may not start out winning a lot of games, but heck, if it leads to winning a SB they’ll be happy a few seasons down the road. And of course it will also give Grant some new fodder to write about in the mean time.

      1. A coached named “Lewd Did I Live, Evil I Did Dwell” would garner alot of attention.

        (I’m cheating, There is an extra L in dwell.)

  31. I don’t think people should give up on CK just yet. Maybe he just needs a new coach to shine. Someone who can effectively utilize his talents. Someone like Sonny Dykes of Cal. He seems to be doing a bang-up job with Goff. CK certainly couldn’t look any worse with Dykes tutoring him.

  32. The best thing that ever happened to Aaron Rodgers was that he had to sit for 3 years behind Farve. He learnt how the pro game was played, got the playbook inside out and was ready to start when the time came. One could say the same thing for Steve Young as well.

    Mobile quarterbacks like Kap, RGIII, and Cam Newton are not totally to blame. The owners and coaches are so enamored by their talent (and the money/draft picks that they shelled out to get them – RGII/Cam) that they put them in when they are not ready yet. They show flashes of brilliance, but never get the time to learn it the right way. And if they have early success, it makes them that much more reluctant to put the work in to pick up pocket skills. Why are we surprised when they fail to live up to heightened expectations?

    Kap’s development, or lack there of is entirely on Harbaugh. He was given the keys to the kingdom too early, when he could have sat behind Alex (who was quite serviceable) at least till the end of the season or even one more learning the nuances of the pro game.

  33. All GMs have hit and miss choices; nobody’s perfect. All in all, I think Baalke does pretty well. And, the view backward is a lot clearer than forward. As stated by Neil Bohr, a Nobel winning physicist, “Prediction is very difficult; especially if it is about the future.”

      1. Battle is the most significant competition in which a man can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base….

  34. New Rule = no quarter back should be able to cut curly q’s into his hair until after you win a super bowl. It’s kind like wearing hot pink pants on the ski hill, you better be damn good. You gotta earn the right to showboat.

      1. Solari is garbage, Niners havE lost 3 games against terrible Teams, I love Harbaugh, but Im not happy with him going to Mark Davis, Win the Damn game, then go blow Lloyd Daniels Davis. Harbs def was sending a shot to Jed. Good Job Jed, you’ve managed to destroy a Great Team over a million bucks or so…..

  35. I think this is a totally fair assessment of Baalke, but in order to really determine his success, you have to compare him against other GM’s.

  36. Trent Baalke sucks as a General Manager. He says he can’t get along with Jim Harbaugh. Maybe he needs to grow up. He is the General Manager not the coach. What great players has he brought to this organization. he wanted parcells for the niners, please he’s RETIRED just PLAIN OLD TIRED, and he wants him for our Organization. HARBAUGH is committed unlike some players we have that don’t even want to turn around for Kap. Greg and Trent need to go. Not Jim Harbaugh. Pay the man YORK cause he’s the best thing we have.

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