The San Francisco 49ers face numerous problems, and personnel issues on both sides of the ball raise plenty of questions about general manager Trent Baalke. As great as he has been at accumulating draft picks, there have been plenty of questions about his drafting strategy. Opinions vary widely, and we'll have plenty of time to discuss it over the next six months leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft.
In the meantime, I wanted to open up some discussion about a topic that I have thought about for the last six years without figuring out an answer: Trent Baalke and the 2010 NFL Draft.
The San Francisco 49ers had a really solid class come out of that group. They landed a pair of starting offensive linemen in Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis, moving them into the starting lineup for five seasons. Safety Taylor Mays was a huge bust in the second round. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was a monster hit in the third round. Running back Anthony Dixon and wide receiver Kyle Williams did not do a whole lot, but for sixth round picks, were more than one would normally expect. Sixth round tight end Nate Byham and seventh round cornerback Phillip Adams both dealt with injuries in their short stints with the team.
The Mays miss is a big one, particularly considering it was a mid-second round pick. But other than that, you really could not ask for a lot more from this draft class. Yes, Iupati has since departed and Davis is sort of retired, but for just the draft value alone, it was great work.
Of course, providing credit is never easy, and all the more so due to the turmoil surrounding the team at the time. General manager Scot McCloughan departed a month before the draft due to his personal problems. Trent Baalke was not promoted into the GM role, but was widely viewed as the guy with the proverbial trigger on draft day.
But he also was dealing with a strong personality in Mike Singletary. There were rumblings Singletary pushed hard on the Taylor Mays pick. Singletary was fired later in the year, and the following training camp, Mays was dealt for a seventh round pick. That trade made it pretty clear Baalke was happy to unload Mays.
The issue thus is how to decide how much credit Trent Baalke deserves for the draft. The Mays trade would indicate he was not behind that pick, but he also was willing to still make the selection. But how much impact did others have on the other successful picks? The draft board was likely in pretty good shape when McCloughan departed, but Baalke did have to make the trade to actually get Davis.
There really is no right answer when it comes to deciphering who gets credit for what. This is more just a matter of me being curious how people decide who to credit when it comes to the 2010 NFL Draft. After all, if you give Baalke more credit, this is a big part of his draft portfolio. If you're inclined to give Baalke less credit, it is a big hit to his draft portfolio.