San Francisco 49ers radio announcer Ted Robinson has gotten a lot of grief the past couple years for essentially offering an insight into what Jed York and 49ers ownership might be thinking on various topics. Whether you agree with this or not, if it is true, it potentially gives us some early predictions about the direction of the organization.
On Monday, Robinson appeared on ESPN 1320 to talk about the Falcons game with The Rise Guys (audio). At one point they asked if him thinks Chip Kelly will be back in 2017. Robinson prefaced his comments by giving the usual disclaimers about speculation, but then had this to say:
There’s no way that if I were sitting in the ultimate chair, that you would look at this season and say anything or anyone is safe. How would you say that? Just look at the body of work, the evidence. Take subjectivity out of it, and just look at it, and say how can I say anything and anyone is safe? You can look at it several ways. You can say, this has been substantiated that the roster needs massive upgrading. And so we’re going to address that. The evaluation and drafting of talent, and let the coaching staff stay in place. You could also look at it and say, it’s gonna change. It’s time to dig the entire road up instead of patching potholes. Which is really what the approach was last year, it was kind of a pothole thing. And you could look at it that way. Or you could do complete status quo, and say we’re just not gonna change anything. And I would say in my opinion, the likelihood of that happening is very miniscule. But, those are the options you have.
There are two competing thoughts going around, we all here it, right? People are saying, well you can’t change the coach, it’s not right, etc etc. There’s some validity to that. Nobody wants to change coaches. But if you adopt that approach, you have to also embrace the concept that the current situation can improve. And if you look at this, you would be hard-pressed to see where that proof is. Where is the thing I can latch onto and say, this is going to be dramatically better next year? I would think that’s a hard thing to see right now.
Now the flip side is, if you change coaches, if, and everyone says, you can’t have four coaches in four years, good point. Nobody wants that. And it does stretch the belief that the job is attractive. But that’s where the obligation goes on the organization to go out and hit a home run. And if they decide that a coaching change is right, they have to go out and hit a home run and find a Harbaugh, even better to me. That kind of a hire, that kind of a credibility position. It isn’t just going out and finding an assistant coach we don’t know, who might end up being a terrific coach, but you don’t know that. I think that would be a hard thing to do, and find that attractive a candidate by the way, if you’re going to say it’s going to be the fourth coach in four years.
If you are one to believe that Robinson reflects what the Yorks might be thinking, this offers at least moderately interesting insight into the coaching and front office situations. Robinson presented three options, and the option he viewed as highly unlikely is the only one that has Trent Baalke returning as general manager.
I don’t think anybody would be surprised if the 49ers fire Trent Baalke after this season. He has taken the blame for the team’s struggles, and the team’s demise has happened on his watch. You can blame coaches, but the one constant these last three years, outside of Jed York, is Trent Baalke. While I somehow would not be entirely surprised if Baalke survived this year, I would not be at all surprised if he was fired.
It has been an odd two weeks for the 49ers GM. The 49ers announced a five-year contract extension for tight end Vance McDonald prior to the team’s Week 14 game, and then announced a two-year contract extension for Ray-Ray Armstrong Monday evening. Some are saying, well, why would the 49ers let him work out these extensions if he is going to be fired?
The McDonald extension is really just a three-year deal with two options, while the Armstrong extension likely will not be overly cumbersome to the cap. Maybe the signings mean Tom Gamble is a likely GM, or maybe they are just not super expensive deals given the 49ers cap situation. And maybe the Yorks also do not yet fully know what they want to do, so they are keeping it business as usual. We’ll find out a lot more once the new year rings in.