After speculation began circulating Tuesday that Trent Baalke, the 49ers’ vice president of player personnel, would become the team’s general manager, those whispers became a roar today.
Citing a well-placed source, CSN Bay Area has reported that Baalke will get the promotion. The report came after former Raiders personnel executive Michael Lombardi, who interviewed with 49ers president and CEO Jed York on Tuesday, said on NFL Network that he didn’t consider himself a candidate and thought Baalke would get the job within 48 hours.
Baalke, in effect, has served as the team’s general manager since the departure of GM Scot McLoughan in March. He oversaw a draft in April that received favorable reviews and is respected for his eye for talent after spending the first 10 seasons of his 13-year NFL career as a scout with the Jets (1998-2000), Redskins (2001-04) and 49ers (2005-07).
If the report is accurate, however, it raises questions about York’s pledge to conduct a thorough search of experienced candidates.
“We need to go out and look at a lot of other people that have been there, that have done that before in the past and potentially could do it here for us in the future,” York said at a press conference Monday.
But if the search quickly stops at Baalke, York will not interview a candidate currently employed by an NFL team since he can’t speak to them until after the end of the regular season on Sunday.
After the 2008 season, York promoted Mike Singletary from interim to head coach without interviewing other candidates. Singletary, who had no previous head-coaching experience prior to his nine-game interim stint, was fired Sunday night less than two full seasons into a four-year, $10 million contract.
On Tuesday, York interviewed Tony Softli, who was the vice president of player personnel in St. Louis from 2006 until May when the team did not offer him a contract. With Softli’s interview, the Niners fulfilled the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching and senior football operations positions.
Lombardi is the only other candidate reported to have an interview with York. The Sacramento Bee has reported that Ted Sundquist, the Broncos’ general manager from 2002-07, will fly in for an interview this week and that team has contacted former Dolphins and Saints general manager Randy Mueller.
“The 49ers are going to hire Trent Baalke as their general manager,” Lombardi said on NFL Network, where he is employed as a commentator and columnist. “I think a lot of speculation, a lot of the talk, about other candidates is really just speculation and other talk. It’s great to have names in … but I’m not a candidate there. I think Baalke will be named the GM, probably in 48 hours, if I had my guess on the situation.”