Baalke Knows He Must Upgrade 49ers' Roster

After steep decline the past two seasons, Niners must re-stock the roster with smart moves in free agency and the draft or new head coach won't have a chance to turn things around

While the 49ers continue their quest to hire a new head coach, the focus is on all the leading candidates.

Hue Jackson, Chip Kelly, Dirk Koetter, John DeFilippo and Anthony Lynn all reportedly have interviewed with the team, with many reports labeling Jackson as the leader.

However, no matter which coach takes the job, the 49ers’ roster will need to be overhauled. Otherwise, Jim Tomsula’s successor may not have much success, either.

General manager Trent Baalke admitted as much recently following a 5-11 season.

“When you look at the roster, we’ve got work to do,” Baalke said. “There’s no question about that. The good thing is we have the ammunition to do that. We’re sitting in a very good situation, relative to cap and cash, for this offseason.”

Baalke and team CEO Jed York, who addressed the team’s problems in a postseason news conference, each said the 49ers will need to be active in free agency and also must have a solid draft to get impact players for a team that has made a steep drop the past three seasons, going from playing in the NFC Championship game in 2013 to 8-8 in 2014 and now 5-11.

The good news is, the 49ers will have the No. 7 overall pick in the upcoming draft. That’s a spot to grab an elite difference-maker. In 2011, Baalke chose linebacker Aldon Smith with the No. 7 overall selection, and he quickly became one of the league’s top pass rushers. It was a great overall draft, too, adding Colin Kaepernick, Chris Culliver, Kendall Hunter, Daniel Kilgore and Bruce Miller, each of whom played big roles over the next few seasons.

One of the priorities for Baalke will be to decide which of the 49ers’ own unrestricted free agents to keep. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin, left guard Alex Boone, kicker Phil Dawson and starting nose tackle Ian Williams all have expiring deals. Also, running back Reggie Bush and tight end Garrett Celek – who showed great promise in an increasing role this season before an injury – will be unrestricted free agents, too.

Baalke knows the 49ers face a crucial situation, one in which they can’t afford to hire the wrong head coach or make poor decisions in free agency and the draft.

“I also understand the gravity of the situation,” Baalke said. “(I) understand exactly what this fan base looks for and what this ownership looks for. It’s the San Francisco 49ers. It’s about championships. It’s about being able to compete for championships.”

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