Is it possible to be sick of a coach before his first press conference?
Just kidding, Jim.
Here’s the newspaper story on Tuesday’s happenings:
The 49ers stuck with the status quo Tuesday by hiring in-house candidate Trent Baalke as their general manager.
But the widely expected promotion could soon be followed by a hire that, the Niners hope, will usher in a season of change for a franchise that just concluded its eighth straight non-winning campaign.
Shortly before the San Francisco Chronicle reported Baalke’s hiring, another report said San Francisco was “likely” to win a tug-of-war for the hottest head coach on the market, Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh.
Citing an NFL source, the San Jose Mercury News reported that Niners president and CEO Jed York has been in regular contact with Harbaugh over the past few days.
Harbaugh, 47, who inherited a program that went 1-11 the year before his arrival, led fifth-ranked Stanford to a 12-1 season capped by a 40-12 romp over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Monday night.
With the hiring of Baalke, the 49ers will now begin interviewing head-coaching candidates, Harbaugh, presumably, among them, today. Harbaugh, who has also inspired overtures from the Broncos, Dolphins and the University of Michigan, arrived back in the Bay Area on Tuesday night from Miami.
According to multiple reports, the Niners were granted permission Tuesday to interview a pair of minority candidates — Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Fewell might not interview until next week. But an interview with Jackson would satisfy the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams speak with at least one minority candidate. Jackson is viewed as a leading candidate to become the Raiders’ next head coach after Oakland didn’t pick up the option on Tom Cable’s contract Tuesday.
The Mercury News reported that the Niners could hire Harbaugh as soon as tonight. If so, the rapid interview process would be a coup for Baalke, who, in contrast, just concluded what he’s termed a “nine-month interview.”
Baalke, entering his seventh season in San Francisco and 14th in the NFL, became the 49ers’ de facto general manager after the departure of GM Scot McLoughan in March.
A month later, Baalke, the vice president of player personnel, oversaw a draft that earned favorable reviews. All eight of the Niners’ draft picks made the active roster and both first-round picks, right tackle Anthony Davis and left guard Mike Iupati, started every game in their rookie seasons.
Baalke was involved in signing tight end Vernon Davis and linebacker Patrick Willis to long-term extensions.
Baalke and former Raiders executive Michael Lombardi, who had more than one interview with York, were the top two candidates, according to the Sacramento Bee. Lombardi, currently employed by the NFL Network, was one of four known outside candidates to interview with York, a list that includes former NFL executives Tony Softli, Ted Sundquist and Rick Mueller. All four outside candidates are not currently working in the league.
“I have had the benefit of watching Trent closely in the recent months and have been very impressed with his knowledge and leadership,” York said in a statement released by the team. “I am confident that Trent will find the 49ers an excellent head coach who will lead us to great success in the coming years.”
Baalke is respected for his eye for talent, but has little experience overseeing a franchise. He spent the first 10 seasons of his NFL career as a scout with the Jets (1998-2000), Redskins (2001-04) and 49ers (2005-07).
“It is an honor to be named the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, a franchise with a history filled by some of the game’s greatest players, coaches and executives,” Baalke said in a statement. “I look at this role as one of great responsibility — to not only the history of the franchise, but also to the 49ers faithful. My entire focus is now dedicated to finding the next head coach of the 49ers.”
• The 49ers granted the Panthers permission to interview defensive coordinator Greg Manusky for their head-coaching vacancy. Manusky, 44, who just completed his fourth season in San Francisco, oversaw the league’s 13th-ranked defense this past season. The news was first reported by CSN Bay Area.