The San Francisco 49ers head into the 2015 NFL Draft having dealt with a sizable amount of roster turnover. Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retired. Justin Smith may retire. Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Dan Skuta, Perrish Cox, Chris Culliver and Mike Iupati all departed in free agency. Those are nine players who started at one time or another for the 49ers.
General manager Trent Baalke has been preparing for turnover the last couple years. He drafted Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial in 2013, and then last year drafted Carlos Hyde, Marcus Martin, Brandon Thomas, Dontae Johnson, Aaron Lynch, Kenneth Acker and Keith Reaser. This group had some success in 2014, but still has plenty to prove in 2015.
I bring this up in light of an article at NFL.com about five general managers that are on the hot seat. They did not include Baalke in this group. It included Reggie McKenzie (Raiders), Ruston Webster (Titans), Ray Farmer (Browns), Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons) and Mickey Loomis (Saints). They were listed as five general managers who needed a strong performance to avoid an early exit this year.
All GMs want and need strong drafts to maintain or boost their credibility, but some GMs have a little more of a leash than others. Baalke needs a strong draft, but for now I don't see him as being on the hot seat. He might be on said seat with fans, but for CEO Jed York, Baalke has a little more of a leash. Whatever we want to make of Jim Harbaugh's departure, one thing that seems certain is York was backing Baalke. In my mind, that means he does not even potentially enter the hot seat until next offseason. I see almost no way Baalke is fired over the next 12 months.
Does anybody disagree? I don't see it as a particularly shocking conclusion, but given the turmoil of the last few months, it is an interesting situation for Baalke.