The front-office arrow is pointing up for Trent Baalke, who recently was rewarded with a promotion to vice president of player personnel after seamlessly keeping the team on a steady course following the traumatic departure of former GM Scot McCloughan.
Baalke, who received a new four-year contract, will have the final say over draft and trade talks. But as far as Niners team president Jed York is concerned, Baalke should still be considered a GM-in-training.
"Like I said in the past, I don't think there are 32 people that fit the traditional general manager role, where they are a talent evaluator, they understand the market for players, they understand how to negotiate contracts and all of that," York explained in his conference call to announce Baalke's promotion.
"I think it's very important when you look at Trent, he's a great talent evaluator, he's meticulous, he's very organized, he's great at putting a staff together and he's still learning some of the other pieces of that business that will ultimately put him as a general manager. I want to make sure that we don't put too much on Trent's plate, and he continues to grow in his role."
The way we hear it, Baalke is growing into his accelerated role with the Niners comfortably enough.
"But he's definitely learning on the job and getting into stuff he's never had to deal with before," one team insider said. "He's still a bit gun-shy with the (local) media, and he's becoming increasingly involved with some intriguing office politics, with both York and (executive VP of football and business operations) Paraag Marathe also taking on more power."
More significant than Baalke's promotion was the clear message that York confidently delivered: "They all report to me."
"It does start and end with him," the insider said of York, who is following in the footsteps of his uncle, Eddie DeBartolo, who also owned the Niners at a young age and enjoyed great success in that role.
"But the approaches are quite different," the insider said. "Eddie surrounded himself with experienced NFL people like John McVay and Bill Walsh. Jed's not doing that.
"(Mike) Singletary had no head-coaching experience. McCloughan wasn't experienced, either. I'd say a lot of people still don't know what to make of Jed. But they like the improvement the team seems to be making."
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