49ers' Baalke named Executive of the Year

Posted Jan. 17, 2012 @ 6:24 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

When 49ers president and chief executive officer Jed York promoted director of player personnel Trent Baalke to the general manager post two days after a 2010 campaign that couldn't have been more disappointing, the move received a decidedly mixed reaction among daily team observers.

When Baalke and York were able to convince Jim Harbaugh to leave nearby Stanford University to become the Niners' new head coach three days later, the perception of Baalke in his new role — one which many wondered if he was qualified enough to fill  — quickly began to change.

After signing 21 players since late July who made major contributions to the Niners' instant transformation into a high-powered NFC West Division champion — players like free agents Carlos Rogers, David Akers and Jonathan Goodwin and rookies Aldon Smith, Kendall Hunter and Bruce Miller — Baalke is now being perceived on an elite level of his profession as the 2011 Pro Football Weekly/Professional Football Writers of America Executive of the Year.

"I am very appreciative of this recognition, but to me, this is very much a team award, from ownership on down," Baalke told PFW. "I am extremely fortunate to be able to work with such a high-character, driven and highly competent group of individuals, all of whom really embrace the team-first mentality, which we consider a prerequisite to good decision making.

"It's not only those involved on the college side, like (director of player personnel) Tom Gamble, (director of college scouting) Joel Patten, (national scout) Matt Malaspina and all of our area scouts, one of which (Western region college scout), Reggie Cobb, won the Fritz Pollard Award for his scouting prowess (as NFC Scout of the Year), but also the guys on the pro side like (pro personnel scout) Quentus Cumby and (senior personnel advisor) John Becker, as well as our scouting assistants and administrator."

"We don't worry about how players fit into other teams' rosters; we worry about how they fit into our roster. To make good decisions, the front office and coaching staff have to be in lockstep, and that's the case in our building. It's been very easy to work alongside Coach and the staff."

Was there an instant connection between Baalke, a certified blue-collar grinder like Harbaugh, who went on to become this season's runaway selection as the PFW/PFWA Coach of the Year?

"Absolutely," said Baalke, who has overseen the acquisition of 29 of the current 53 players on the Niners' active roster over the past two years. "It was important to make sure we hired a head coach that shared the same vision that we had, and in Jim, we found a perfect fit. 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."

 

ALL-TIME WINNERS

NFL Executive of the Year

2011   Trent Baalke / S.F.
2010   Scott Pioli / K.C.
2009   Bill Polian / Ind.
2008   Bill Parcells / Mia.
2007   Scott Pioli / N.E.
2006   Mickey Loomis / N.O.
2005   Bill Polian / Ind.
2004   A.J. Smith / S.D.
2003   Scott Pioli / N.E.
2002   Al Davis / Oak.
2001   Charley Armey / St.L.
2000   Randy Mueller / N.O.
1999   Bill Polian / Ind.
1998   Vikings front office
1997   George Young / N.Y.G.
1996   Bill Polian / Car.
1995   Bill Polian / Car.
1994   Carmen Policy / S.F.
1993   George Young / N.Y.G.