Is Trent Baalke a superior general manager? Of course he is. Are the 49ers flourishing because of him? Of course they are. But I’m grading him on his performance this season, just as I’ve graded everyone else. For him, this season is what he did in the preseason.
He re-signed outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a six-year extension, and that was a good move. Brooks is a top outside linebacker in the NFL.
Baalke signed Mario Manningham to a two-year contract – a second good move.
Baalke re-signed Carlos Rogers to a four-year contract extension – a pretty good move. Rogers is better right now than anyone Baalke could have acquired to take Rogers’ place. But Rogers is 31-years-old and seems to be declining.
Baalke brought Dashon Goldson back with the Franchise tag – a good short-term move. Goldson has become arguably the best safety in the NFL this season. In hindsight, it would have been better if Baalke had signed Goldson to a five-year contract extension before Goldson became the best. Now, that extension will be much more expensive.
What else did Baalke do? He signed Brandon Jacobs and Randy Moss – two pretty good backups, although Jacobs has not played.
And Baalke whiffed on the draft. Not one player from his draft class plays for the team. Baalke decided to spend his first and second round picks on a wide receiver and a running back, but he drafted the wrong wide receiver and the wrong running back.
A.J. Jenkins has not played a single down. Baalke drafted him one spot ahead of Doug Martin, who you’ve probably heard of. That’s called taking a third strike looking.
Clearly, Baalke wanted a running back. Otherwise how do you explain LaMichael James? Baalke should have drafted Doug Martin in the first round, not A.J. Jenkins. Martin already is one of the five best running backs in the NFL. What’s more, he’s from Oakland, went to high school in Stockton – Baalke’s back yard. How did Baalke not pick Martin? The 49ers are a power-running team, and they don’t have a power running back to take over for Gore when he gets too old. Martin is that guy. Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James are not – they’re too small.
Overall, a mediocre offseason for Baalke, but I’ll give him a courtesy grade due to past accomplishments.
MIDTERM GRADE: C+.