I realize we're beating the Scot McCloughan business into the ground, but I feel this has become such an important stretch for the 49ers (we could always be the Vikings talking non-stop about Brett Favre!). I do have confidence in Trent Baalke and Tom Gamble because they are extremely experienced personnel men. Maybe this isn't an ideal situation for them, but as is often the case, I'm going to give the organization the benefit of the doubt.
However, that doesn't mean there is plenty to ponder going forward for the 49ers organization. In particular, it all has me wondering about the long term strategy of the team. In yesterday's conference call, Jed York emphasized that the team was looking towards the draft and not yet considering the long-term decisions on front office personnel. I'd have to imagine the draft will play into the decisions, much like the end of the 2008 season factored into the decision to make Mike Singletary the permanent head coach.
Whomever the man ends up being, I am especially curious how this will affect contract negotiations with the likes of Vernon Davis, Patrick Willis, and Dashon Goldson among others. I would tend to think things will be fine even with a new face of Football Ops. Paraag Marathe is the principal contract negotiator, so obviously he would seem to remain the face in such sessions. However, one has to wonder if there is any kind of change in philosophy with McCloughan out of the picture. Maybe not, but who really knows at this point.
In reviewing what's being said, you'd think the 49ers were completely screwing the pooch on this situation and setting back the franchise many years. I really don't think that's the case. Without knowing the details behind McCloughan's departure, we're left to speculate. However, I think the team has the type of personnel in place to continue forward. The team has been in rebuilding mode for some time now, and until recently appeared on the verge of a potential return to the playoffs.
I really don't see this change at the top having much of an affect, if any, on the 49ers movement forward. There has been some mention of how this could potentially affect Alex Smith, a draft product of the no defunct Nolan-McCloughan FO regime. Again, I don't see it mattering at this point. As Jed York said:
"Alex is our guy. He's our quarterback. We believe in Alex. Coach Singletary has always believed in Alex. I believe he's always said that he's believed in Alex. I think Alex did a nice job stepping in when he came in. I think it's great that this is the first time that he's had the continuity as the coordinator. When you have some weapons around him with [WR Michael] Crab[tree], with [TE] Vernon [Davis], with Frank [Gore]. I think Alex is poised to have a good season for us and we are excited that Alex is our starting quarterback."
Smith is getting his shot this year, and will get his opportunity to sink or swim long term with the 49ers. If he were to struggle this season, no matter who was in charge, he would potentially be out the door. He's reached a point in his career where it doesn't matter who is in charge of football ops for that kind of decision to occur.
We'll have more on this as the offseason progresses, but as I mentioned already, I just don't think it will end up being that big a deal for the organization. I could easily be proven wrong, but I am actually somewhat confident in this.