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The question of Scot McCloughan...

A few days ago, ninjames posted an interesting San Francisco Chronicle article in the Golden Nuggets. In the article, Nancy Gay concluded that the 49ers simply had to bring in New England Patriots VP of Player Personnel Scott Piolo to be team president. Personally, I'm not sure I see Pioli leaving his ivory tower to come out here. I suppose President is a step up from Vice President, but still, it does not seem likely.

However, that did get me thinking about the 49ers GM, Scot McCloughan. In reading over the comments here the past few months, there seems to be a bit of a divide as to the support for him as GM. I'm posting this because I want to hear from the detractors.

Is it his connection with Mike Nolan? The problem in assessing the performance of McCloughan comes from the nature of his working relationship with Nolan. McCloughan came to town following his job as Director of College Scouting for the Seahawks. Nolan was put in charge of football operations and McCloughan was Vice President of Player Personnel. We all know how that ended, with Nolan being stripped of "some" of his power and McCloughan being named general manager following the 2007 season.

Given his high profile position, I'm somewhat surprised there isn't more commentary on the job of Scot McCloughan. I've seen some comments of people who think he should be canned. My intuition has me believing he's a solid option. The problem is separating out what he's done for the organization versus what Mike Nolan did for the organization. That's particularly important since Nolan is gone now and it'll just be McCloughan (as I highly doubt Singletary gets big time personnel power if he's re-signed).

While it's probably not fair, it might be easiest considering them as one person. Until this past year I'd imagine Nolan had final say, but I could certainly see them hashing out a lot of the details together. Given how awful the team was when the pair took over, it's not surprising that the team is more talented now. When you've hit rock bottom, the only place to go is up.

Free agency under McNolan has had its hits (Justin Smith, isaac Bruce) and misses (Jonas Jennings). What I do like is the fact that the last two years the team has been able to convince folks to sign with the 49ers. Of course, it helps to have a ton of cap space from which to offer huge contracts. On the other hand, the 49ers have still been a bad team, so there had to have been some sort of sales job.

The draft has had mixed results, but is improving every day. We won't even bother getting into the Alex Smith mess. For the purposes of this conversation, we all know how that's gone. And while the drafts haven't been homeruns, they've slowly started to yield benefits. There are some guys that could still move to bust, but even guys like Davis and Lawson have flashed serious talent. Others, like Michael Robinson, aren't spectacular, but do make legitimate contributions, even if just on special teams (round #):

2005 - David Baas (2nd), Frank Gore (3rd), Adam Snyder (4th), Billy Bajema (7th)

2006 - Vernon Davis (1st), Manny Lawson (1st), Michael Robinson (4th), Parys Haralson (5th), Delanie Walker (6th)

2007 - Patrick Willis (1st), Joe Staley (1st), Jason Hill (3rd), Ray McDonald (3rd), Dashon Goldson (4th), Tarell Brown (5th)

2008 - Chilo Rachal (2nd), Josh Morgan (6th)

There are plenty of busts mixed in, and some of the guys above still have plenty of work to do. However, in going through that list, the 49ers have some quality foundation pieces going into 2009.

I realize this is all probably a little too rah-rah and I would still like to hear from the anti-McCloughan crowd. I know there are some of you out there because I can recall some McClueless comments (among others). As for the supporters, or at the very least the neutral folks, is McCloughan a guy who can get this ship righted? He's got the proverbial keys to the car (I think that's a 16to80endzone type of line), so there really aren't too many excuses going forward. Thoughts?