We’re all waiting for the Jim Harbaugh shoe to drop. And it better drop. Jed York better have Harbaugh in the bag (as opposed to thinking he has him in the bag which is something else entirely).
Meanwhile, we’re left with the Trent Baalke hire. Which is so much more of the same for the 49ers that it’s ridiculous.
A week ago, Jed stood in front of the Bay Area media and made it clear that he would hire a general manager. He said he would conduct a search. He implied that he was looking for expertise.
It was a fun game of charades.
Within 24 hours word had leaked that he would hire his in-house candidate Baalke. A man who is getting his job the way everyone with the 49ers gets his job: by being in the building when someone was fired.
Baalke may be a fine talent evaluator – though we have no way of knowing since the 2010 draft evaluation was certainly largely in place before Scot McCloughan left. But he works for Jed and Paraag Marathe. He has been in the 49ers organization for seven dysfunctional years – arriving in Mike Nolan’s first year. He wanted the job – who doesn’t want to be one of 32 general managers in the NFL? So he wasn’t about to tell Jed, “Hey, you’re doing it wrong.”
Jed, in the announcement of Baalke’s hiring, said “In recent months I’ve been very impressed with his knowledge and leadership.” But how much do you trust Jed to do the evaluating? How much does he know about effective NFL knowledge and leadership. Baalke isn’t exactly like John McVay coming in.
This is the problem with the 49ers. They think they’re doing it right. Jed is convinced the only – the only - issue with the team was coaching. Everything else inside is hunky-dory. Except that it’s not.
“They have the worst structure in football, or at least very close to it, with a couple of young guys that believe they have all the answers,” said one longtime NFL insider.
Now, if Harbaugh is The Answer, the Baalke hire won’t matter. Cocksure Harbaugh is not about to take orders from Baalke. He has his own contacts and sources in the NFL and will make his only decisions. He’ll likely look at Baalke as an executive assistant. And if Harbaugh turns out to be a very good NFL coach, everything will be great.
And while I believe Harbaugh has a better chance than most college coaches to be a very good NFL coach (extensive NFL pedigree, inside knowledge and contacts; coming from a program where he can’t just load up on blue-chippers at every position but is forced to more carefully evaluate and select talent), that’s no sure thing.
On the face of it, the 49ers are just repeating their past: Falling in love with a untested candidate as head coach and handing him control of the organization, bypassing Super Bowl winners who are available, while staffing the front office with yes-men who won’t challenge the inept 49ers culture.
Harbaugh better be in the bag. And he better turn out to be The Answer. It’s the 49ers only hope.