The 49ers made it through the early part of the offseason without losing members of their coaching staff or front office, but that quickly changed last week when Tom Gamble, director of player personnel, left to become the Eagles Vice President of Player Personnel.
Some of the early comments from people viewed this as a lateral move, as opposed to the climb to the general manager position Gamble desired. While Gamble is not a GM yet, his reasons for making the move are solid on several levels. CSN Philly had a solid rundown of Gamble's reasoning for heading east.
"I grew up here, I'm from here, I worked here, love this team, love this franchise, love the city," Gamble, the team's new vice president of pro personnel, said. "It was a big deal for me to get back this way. Thirty other opportunities I wasn't interested in. Philly called and I was interested."
"I wasn't looking to go anywhere," he said. "I was in a great situation with great ownership, a great head coach and general manager, but it's Philly and that's as good as it gets in this business. That means something to me. I didn't know when it would come up again and I was ecstatic to come back."
Gamble got his start with the Eagles back in 1988. His father was team president, and Tom started out as an assistant in the personnel department. He worked his way up as a scout, bouncing around the league before ending up in San Francisco. However, given his father's connections to the team, Gamble grew up an Eagles fan. Add in the fact that his parents still reside in New Jersey, and there is a great personal appeal with the Eagles.
However, this could also prove to be a wise move in his drive to become a general manager. Gamble is a respected personnel man in the NFL, but getting out of the shadow of Trent Baalke could prove useful. I think he would become a general manager anyway, but I also think this kind of move can help. It is a risky move, particularly with the addition of a risky head coach in Chip Kelly, but there is tremendous upside for him in Philadelphia.
Gamble was effusive with his praise of the 49ers willingness to let him leave for the Eagles job:
"I think a lot of this business is individuals and people and relationships. They didn't have to let me visit with Philadelphia," Gamble said, "If people respect you, you have dialogue, you have conversation, and I've been denied a bunch in this business a lot of different positions and a lot of different things.
"Not a great time of year, no question, but because of my relationships there, [general manager] Trent Baalke, and the head coach, ownership, for them to allow that for a lot of different reasons, we were able to come to an agreement and we were able to talk to them.
"We visited for a couple days. I wasn't looking to leave. Had a great situation. Loved it there. But this is a little bit something different when you have a chance to come back home. I applaud the 49ers for allowing me to do it. It's unusual, tough time of year, but they were nice enough to allow me to do it."
Meanwhile, the 49ers are left with a hole in their personnel department. The team has not made any announcements about changes in responsibility, but there is no doubt that people are already picking up the slack. Albert Breer speculated that director of college scouting Joel Patten might gain some added responsibility. We'll have to wait and see for now since a lot of front office maneuverings below the GM position can be a bit mysterious.