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If the 49ers fire Trent Baalke, what’s next?

The 49ers could end up firing their general manager. If they do make that move, they will need to figure out a short list of potential replacements.

The San Francisco 49ers are approaching the halfway point of the 2016 season, and there has been a lot more bad than good thus far. We’ve seen some young players emerge, but we’ve seen a lot of players not take a necessary step forward. Some will blame the coaching staff, some will blame the front office, and some will blame both.

With people calling for Trent Baalke’s job, the front office leaking has slowly begun. Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole had the first leak, which was a vote of confidence for Baalke. It is safe to say that if we see the team struggle further, the leaks will pick up in intensity.

But whatever happens the rest of the way, let’s play with the hypothetical that Baalke is fired at some point before free agency begins. If the 49ers are going to get rid of him, the most likely timeframe is right after the season ends. We might see it before then, but my guess is any firing would be around the usual Black Monday news.

If the 49ers do fire him, what’s next? Part of that depends on if they decide to blow everything up, including firing head coach Chip Kelly. I don’t see that happening, but it’s an option. In either case, the obvious possibility to replace Baalke is assistant general manager Tom Gamble. If the 49ers keep Chip Kelly, they are in a situation where a GM candidate might not want the job without getting to pick his own head coach. Gamble and Kelly have a good relationship dating back to their time together with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and 2014.

But if the team is looking for serious change, they will have to come up with a list of candidates of potential general managers. The team could look at some retreads, or they could look at some up-and-coming names. Here are some potential names that have been floated as GM candidates around the league over the past year. This is likely not a complete list, but I figure it is a good starting point. Feel free to suggest some names in the comments.

Former GMs

Scott Piolo
Mark Dominik

Up-and-coming types

Chris Ballard, Chiefs, Director of Football Operations
Nick Caserio, Patriots, Director of Player Personnel
Joey Clinksales, Raiders, Co-director of Player Personnel
Eric DeCosta, Ravens, Assistant GM
Scott Fitterer, Seahawks, Co-director of Player Personnel
Brian Gaine, Texans, Director of Player Personnel
Trent Kirchner, Seahawks, Co-director of Player Personnel
Will McClay, Cowboys, Senior Director of College, Pro scouting
Terry McDonough, Cardinals, VP Player Personnel
George Paton, Vikings, Assistant GM
Marc Ross, Giants, VP of Player Evaluation
Duke Tobin, Bengals, Director of Player Personnel
Eliot Wolf, Packers, Director of Player Personnel