San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke has been under fire over the last two years, as the team has tumbled toward the bottom of the NFL. His 2012 draft was a bust, and his 2013, 2014, and 2015 classes have been inconsistent. More than anything, this year will tell us something about what to make of those three classes, and where Trent Baalke stands in the organization.
Yahoo! NFL reporter Charles Robinson had a chance to chat with Baalke last week, and put together what seems practically like an “as told to” explainer from the 49ers GM. Baalke once said the team does not rebuild, but rather reloads. Since then, even Baalke has finally acknowledged there are problems and this is not an immediate fix. In the Robinson piece, he continues to acknowledge that and point to the future.
Baalke talked about building through the draft, and said the team “absolutely ha[s] a young core group of guys that are going to move into their second contracts here. And I think people will see that this year as it unfolds. The Aaron Lynchs. The Jimmie Wards. The Carlos Hydes. They’re good football players and they’re only going to get better.”
The team extended Quinton Dial early in the offseason, and then got an extension done with NaVorro Bowman at the start of training camp. Those three players Baalke mentioned are all eligible for contract extensions next offseason. I’m guessing their respective agents will hang on to that quotation for negotiations, but I can see things getting done, particularly with the large amount of cap space.
Robinson tweeted out some thoughts after the article published, including one thing not mentioned in the article.
5. #49ers fans should pay a lot of attention to college WRs this season. Believe there will be some serious draft investment there in 2017.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) August 16, 2016
The 49ers have wide receivers this year, but after Torrey Smith, it’s a whole lot of question marks. We’ll know by the end of the season if any have panned out, but here are some of the top wide receiver prospects heading into the 2016 college football season:
Mike Williams, Clemson
JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC
Jehu Chesson, Michigan
Malachi Dupre, LSU
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Travis Dural, LSU
Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
Fred Ross, Mississippi State
Stacy Coley, Miami (FL)
Gabe Marks, Washington State