This is not exactly the most shocking bit of analysis, but earlier this month, SI writer Don Banks put together a list of general managers on the hot seat, and San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke made the list. I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself from the shock.
OK, now that you’ve collected yourself, Banks’ full list includes Baalke (listed third), Jerry Reese (Giants), Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons), Ryan Grigson (Colts), David Caldwell (Jaguars), Howie Roseman (Eagles), Les Snead (Rams), and Doug Whaley (Bills). Here’s what Banks had to say about Baalke:
That Super Bowl season of 2012 could pass for some foggy, distant memory at this point in San Francisco. The 49ers have quickly become the dregs of the NFC West the past two seasons, even while the Seahawks and Cardinals continue to win big and contend for rings. Baalke’s drafts have been unimpressive, the roster looks barren, and he needs some immediate impact from this year’s large draft haul to rewrite the increasingly desperate narrative. Hiring Chip Kelly as head coach bought at least a dose of credibility after the Jim Tomsula fiasco, but if Kelly struggles to win with sub-par personnel, even Baalke’s tight relationship with owner Jed York might not be enough to save his bacon.
The 2012 draft was a disaster, and the 2013 draft is touch and go at the moment. Eric Reid and Quinton Dial are producing, and will be counted on even more this year, Vance McDonald and Quinton Patton have huge opportunities this season, and even Tank Carradine could emerge as a productive presence. This is most definitely a make-or-break year for that draft. And of course there is plenty to consider in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 drafts. We’ve touched on this plenty.
That article is three weeks old, but I thought about it again because of another article. NJ.com put together a ranking of the ten best general managers in the NFL. It’s a slide show, so here are the links to the individual GMs if you want to read about them.
1. John Schneider, Seahawks
2. Ozzie Newsome, Ravens
3. Ted Thompson, Packers
4. Bill Belichick, Patriots
5. John Elway, Broncos
6. Steve Keim, Cardinals
7. Reggie McKenzie, Raiders
8. Kevin Colbert, Steelers
9. Scot McLoughan, Redskins
10. Jerry Reese, Giants
The Jerry Reese name is kind of amusing. SI views him as on the hot seat given the last few years inconsistency, while the New Jersey writer points to the two Super Bowls. Given the departure of the head coach, the pressure would seem to move to the general manager at this point.
John Schneider has done some great work up in Seattle, and deserves a ton of credit. But if that offensive line is not improved, I could see him slipping on some of these lists. As for Reggie McKenzie, this year is huge for him. The Raiders took a nice step forward last year, improving from 3-13 to 7-9. There is the potential for a bit of regression, but they have a lot of talent on the roster. With Denver in a bind at quarterback, the AFC West is up for grabs. I think we see the Chiefs win the division, but the Raiders are going to push for it. If they continue the progression toward a playoff berth, this ranking will be justified.
For The Win and Rotoworld put together some GM rankings prior to the draft. They ranked Baalke No. 17 and No. 24, respectively. It’s hard to make any adjustments at this point since the rookies have yet to play a football game. The potential is there with these picks, but as with most drafts, it’s going to take some time to get a handle on it. But for purposes of all these rankings, the play of the 2013, 2014, and 2015 drafts are really what will give us some kind of clarity on Baalke’s future.