Baalke's first season as GM was a huge success
After roaring back from NFL oblivion to take a place among the league’s best teams in 2011, the 49ers have taken a step toward keeping their resurgence on track with a new contract for general manager Trent Baalke.
Baalke agreed on Friday to a three-year contract extension with the 49ers that will keep him in San Francisco through the 2016 season.
"This is a wonderful day for Trent, his family and the 49ers organization," team CEO Jed York said. "Without question, Trent has distinguished himself as the man to direct our football operations for years to come."
This past season was Baalke's first as general manager and his eighth with the 49ers. He was named Executive of the Year by Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers Association after San Francisco went 13-3, won the NFC West, and advanced to the NFC Championship game before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants.
This all happened after the 49ers went 6-10 in 2010, extending the team’s string of eight consecutive seasons without a winning record or playoff berth. But that all changed big-time in 2011.
"I would like to thank Jed, and the York family, for this great opportunity and show of support," Baalke said. "In addition, I would like to thank coach Harbaugh, as well as our coaches, players, scouts, and entire football operations staff for their hard work and dedication this season. It is a privilege to work for the 49ers organization alongside this group as we continue our pursuit of championships."
Baalke started with the 49ers in 2005 as the team's western region scout. In 2008, he was promoted to director of player personnel, and he became vice president of player personnel in 2010 before taking the GM job in 2011.
Since 2010 Baalke has led the 49ers in acquiring 32 players who were part of their breakthrough season this past year. Chief among those was wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr., who came to San Francisco in a trade from the Miami Dolphins in 2010. Ginn was third in the NFL in kickoff return average in 2011 (27.6 yards per attempt) and fourth on punt returns (12.3 yards per attempt).
The 49ers also added key free agents Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner and Jonathan Goodwin this past year, while Baalke also oversaw the team assembling a stellar rookie class that made a significant contribution to the Niners’ stunning turnaround.
Before joining the 49ers' staff, Baalke worked as a scout with the Redskins and Jets, and was part of two college coaching staffs at South Dakota State and North Dakota State.
For the second week in a row, a 49ers player has been arrested.
Outside linebacker Aldon Smith, the runnerup for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, was pulled over in Miami on suspicion of DUI. Then defensive end Ray McDonald was arrested for an outstanding warrant stemming from his DUI arrest in the summer of 2010.
McDonald was held for five hours in a San Mateo County jail and then released.
Neither Smith or McDonald are considered character risks. McDonald was signed to a five-year, $20 million extension in July and responded with his best season, which he capped with a 2.5 sack performance in the title game.
--- The 49ers beat the San Francisco Giants in a charity shootout at Pebble Beach two days before the AT&T Pro Am. "It was a great team win," said quarterback Alex Smith, who consistently drove the ball well over 300 yards. Current and former players participated. Smith, Harbaugh and former players Harris Barton and Dwight Clark made up part of the 49ers team. The Giants' most high-profile pairing included former first baseman Will Clark and current pitcher Matt Cain.
--- Harbaugh played in the AT&T event and Alex Smith served as his caddy for at least part of the tournament. Harbaugh said his goal was to beat the rest of the coaches and former coaches in the field including Herm Edwards, Bill Belichick, Nick Saban, and Bob Stoops. Harbaugh is a 12 handicap and was paired with pro golfer Ryan Moore. "(I) want to be first among the football coaches," Harbaugh said before the event. Nothing surprising there.
--- Harbaugh said he's not going to make golfing in the offseason a regular event. "I don't ever play a whole lot of golf in the offseason. We'll get right on free agency and the draft and find some ways to get better. That's what we are going to need to do," he said.
--- Staying in character, Harbaugh explained why he didn’t personally accept his Coach of the Year award during Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Alex Smith accepted the award on behalf of the coach who helped turn around his career. "They are doing the blocking and they are doing the tackling. I didn't feel comfortable taking a deep bow for what our players had done," Harbaugh said.
--- Players are already arriving at the team facility for workouts, even those who are unsigned. Guard Adam Snyder tweeted that he is back working out. "We want to out work everybody," Harbaugh said. This is the most solid the team has been in years. It appears the 49ers will only lose one coach, offensive assistant Bobby Engram who left to be the receivers coach under University of Pittsburgh's Paul Chryst. He's the brother of 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst. Harbaugh said he wants to retain everyone on his coaching staff. The team could lose director of player personnel Tom Gamble, who's interviewing for the Rams' general manager position.
--- One reason for the team's surprising success this season is its lack of injuries. Only one starter, receiver Joshua Morgan (broken ankle), was placed on injured reserve, and if he's signed, Morgan should be ready by training camp. The other players of note on injured reserve include blocking tight end Nate Byham and cornerback Curtis Holcomb. Both had knee surgeries and both are expected to ready by training camp. Holcomb said he might be held out of minicamps and OTA's as a precaution.