Is Trent Baalke Running Out of Time?


The firing departure of Jim Harbaugh after three successful seasons and one mediocre one came to a surprise to many. Harbaugh’s firing mutual separation from the 49ers proves the thought that winning cures everything. After the mighty collapse during the 2014 season, the 49ers’ front office was no longer willing to put up with Harbaugh’s antics.

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It’s probable that the front office felt as if the 49ers should have won at least one championship with the roster Baalke put together for Harbaugh, and they felt that the fact that they fell short so many times was squarely on Harbaugh’s shoulders. If they fired Harbaugh for not winning a championship, how long until Trent Baalke’s time is up?

There were reports that there was a lot of tension between Harbaugh and Baalke, and that the front office would have to choose one or another. If those reports were true – with how many other reports came true, this one might be true as well – then obviously the 49ers went with Baalke.

When the Harbaugh firing departure was announced, Jed York let the world know exactly what he expected from Baalke and new head coach Jim Tomsula.

So Jed, you have a coach that just averaged over 12 wins a year in four years. What will the expectation be for a coach coming in?

JY: “To win the Super Bowl.”

Right away? In year one?

JY: “We expect to win the Super Bowl every year. That is our goal.”

And is that a reasonable expectation? So, what if that coach doesn’t win the Super Bowl in the first couple of years?

JY: “Then we’re going to have to figure out if that’s the right fit.”

Jed, is Trent accountable for that then? He hasn’t won a Super Bowl?

JY: Absolutely. Absolutely he’s accountable.”

The 49ers obviously trust Baalke to put together a championship team, but how long does he have to do it? With all the injuries and unexpected retirements that have taken place recently, Baalke could be starting to sweat.

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49ers assembled a golden roster via NFL Draft despite misses
49ers assembled a golden roster via NFL Draft despite misses /

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  • A General Manager’s true value comes from how many times he hits in the draft. Baalke has had some great drafts, but some duds as well. And with the “what have you done for me lately?” mentality that has infected the league, Jed York and co. may be inclined to notice that the duds have been a little more recent.

    In 2011, Baalke led one of the best drafts in 49ers’ history. This is a draft that netted eventual starters such as Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Chris Culliver, Daniel Kilgore, and Bruce Miller.

    However since then, Baalke’s drafts have dropped significantly in quality.

    After 2011’s great draft, Baalke had one of the worst drafts in 49ers’ history. Out seven picks, only one is left on the team: back up guard Joe Looney.

    It’s too early to make a judgement on the three most recent drafts, but besides Eric Reid, no one else seems to have made a big impact on the team.

    However, even if the picks don’t pan out, Baalke has set up the 49ers well with drafting potential replacements. He drafted Carlos Hyde to replace Frank Gore. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser, and Kenneth Acker can replace Culliver and Perrish Cox. Arik Armstead was drafted to replace Justin Smith.

    One thing that absolutely cannot be overlooked is that Baalke is the reason why the 49ers can still compete and are not in a full rebuild mode.

    Very few GMs could roll with the punches that Baalke has had to endure. His foresight is allowing the 49ers to still compete for a championship.

    This is the reason why he may have earned himself more time on the clock to put together a championship team. However, it won’t be long until York and co. are breathing down his neck once again.