2011 49ers Grades: Trent Baalke

Now that we have finished up with our Player grades this morning, we are going to move on to the Front Office and Coaching Staff grades. This is especially pertinent with Tuesday coming up.

Yes, Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 is a big day. It's not only the 160th anniversary of Uncle Sam's debut in the New York Lantern Weekly, and it's not only the 128th anniversary of the Siege of Khartoum, but is the beginning of Free Agency in the NFL!

Free Agency. A time for irrational, knee-jerk responses about how much one millionaire wants to pay another millionaire. What fun! It's also a time for our resident GM to shine. So, here's to you Mr. Baalke:

Why the hell are you bringing in Randy Moss for a workout?

Dude's old and has a chronic attitude problem. He has talent and one heck of a career behind him, and I will admit that a sack of potatoes would improve our receiving corps, but Moss is not that sack of potatoes.

Maybe you can tell, dear reader, but I don't think Randy Moss would be a great signing. I just don't get it. But, in coming to that realization, I came to another. Or, as Bill Cosby would say, I told you that story to tell you this one: even though I don't like the notion of signing Randy Moss, I'm not actually having an irrational, knee-jerk reaction. The fact of the matter is that the trust Baalke has earned as a GM far outstrips my distaste of potentially signing Randy Moss.

So, follow me on a trip down memory lane as we review Trent Baalke's year as GM and assign him his Official NN Grade.

Even though he had a few title changes in the meantime, this was essentially Baalke's second year campaign as GM of the 49ers. And, I think we can all agree that if this was some sort of sophomore slump, we are going to be very, very happy with Baalke for many years to come.

I would rate this year's GMing on a scale of 1 to Fantastic as a Fantastic. Or, maybe because of the whole Braylon Edwards, a Fantastic minus (and it's not like the Edwards signing was horrible, primarily because of its low risk / high reward nature).

But yes, for the most part, I think Baalke took the two major methods of improving the team - Free Agency and the Draft - and utilized them almost to perfection. In the Draft, he "reached" for Aldon Smith, who has already become one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL, he found an excellent mid-round change o' pace RB in Kendall Hunter, acquired a safety-turned-cornerback in Chris Culliver, and gave us the gift of the coolest Fullback evah! What was really impressive with this draft, however, was not just the talent acquired but how the talent seemed to mesh perfectly with the coaching staff's approach to the game.

In terms of Free Agency, the obvious big ones were Carlos Rodgers and Donte Whitner. Both guys really shored up what was our greatest defensive liability - the Secondary. But, some of the smaller signings went a long way too. I, myself, was happy to have the safety depth with Madieu Williams. Moreover, Blake Costanzo was a rock on special teams. He also just seems really cool too. And, in some regards, the greatest signings were the signings he didn't make. Because of the lockout, some GMs chugged like 40 espressos and then just signed the crap out of available Free Agents. Some signings worked and some didn't, but Baalke was able to avoid a toxic contract like Lady Gaga avoids class.

What do you guys and gals think?

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