Considering the Niners' dysfunctional history in recent years, there were many people close to the team who couldn't help rolling their eyes when team president Jed York predicted there would be a seamless transition after York relieved Scot McCloughan of his GM duties for "personal reasons" only five weeks before the draft. But the early indications are that director of player personnel Trent Baalke, who has been granted an opportunity by York to earn the GM job for the long term, does indeed appear to have things relatively under control with the draft fast approaching.
One thing that quickly has become clear is that Baalke definitely has his own ideas when it comes to talent evaluation. "He is not a McCloughan clone at all," one team insider said. "He is not married to the Ron Wolf philosophy of focusing on bigger, stronger players from big-time schools like Scot was, and he appears to be fully willing to draft a player who doesn't fit those parameters."
As for Niners head coach Mike Singletary, it really does appear he will be more involved in the evaluation process moving forward — with Baalke's blessings. There were some daily team observers who were surprised when Singletary took off on a three-day scouting trip with Baalke at the start of the Niners' organized team activities. "Trent seems very committed to having Singletary involved, even though both the team, and Singletary himself, realize that personnel evaluation is not his strong suit," the insider said.
What Baalke apparently does consider a strong suit, however, is Singletary's ability to break down the personalities of players upon meeting them face-to-face. That is especially the case concerning players with checkered backgrounds such as Ahmad Brooks and Ricky Jean-Francois, who appear to be overcoming their former problems and fitting in well to the straight-laced family environment Singletary is intent on establishing.
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