When Scot McCloughan abruptly left his job as San Francisco 49ers general manager in March of 2010, the team said it would conduct a national search for his replacement.
Eventually team president Jed York found his man right under his nose.
And Trent Baalke – who was promoted to the job in 2011 after serving as interim GM for several months – has proven to be a man with a golden touch.
The team’s decision late last week to extend Baalke’s contract through 2016 ensures that the organization will maintain its continuity and way of thinking for the long term.
Baalke, who brought head coach Jim Harbaugh on board, oversaw a terrific draft in April and made key free-agent acquisitions in an abbreviated offseason that set up the 49ers for a turnaround 13-3 regular-season record and NFC West title, agreed to a three-year extension, the team announced Friday.
There was no hint Baalke was about ready to go anywhere else. But the extension York has given him solidifies the organization’s leadership structure for the long term. The York-Baalke-Harbaugh triumvirate – which apparently shares the same vision and reads from the same page – should provide a platform for continuing to build on the success of 2011.
York, in announcing the extension on Twitter, wrote, “Contentious contract negotiations w/Trent over dinner. Didn’t finalize terms until after we finished the chips & salsa.”
York also announced the addition of Gideon Yu as team president, who will oversee all business operations including the construction of a new stadium in Santa Clara, reported Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Baalke, who was selected NFL Executive of the Year by the Professional Football Writers of America, said, “It is a privilege to work for the 49ers organization, alongside this group, as we continue our pursuit of championships.”
Baalke now faces a busy offseason, with decisions ahead about which free agents on his own roster to keep plus which to pursue from other teams after the March 13 free-agent date.
Last year he signed such key players as place-kicker David Akers, safeties Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner and cornerback Carlos Rogers.
Baalke and Harbaugh also have proven to be a terrific tandem.
“It was important to make sure we hired a head coach that shared the same vision we had, and in Jim we found the perfect fit,” Baalke told Yahoo Sports in January. “At the end of the day, we all want the same thing – what’s best for the team, which makes the decision-making process that much easier. I truly enjoy the work ethic, energy and passion that he and the entire staff bring to the office every day. As we all know, chemistry is a big part of success, and we are fortunate to have that.”