1-3 is the worst start for 49ers since starting 0-5 in 2010. Five years has really felt like long ago when the Niners were finally rewarded for their loyalty with three straight NFC Championship berths and one Super Bowl berth.
Usually, this kind of meteoric rise takes a lot to come crashing down. Overall, it would come down to outright incompetence.
You can argue that it was a series of unfortunate events. However, it came down to one common denominator, Trent Baalke.
This needs to pop up on Trent Baalke’s computer tomorrow.
Photo courtesy of Sean McEntee
Let’s grade him on a general manager level first.
Drafts, Free Agency, and Trades
It’s important to note that Baalke does well for himself on paper in drafts, but this is a league where games are won on the field and not paper. Baalke also fails in retaining top draft picks after their contract is done.
Let’s take a look.
Current draft picks that are starting:
Colin Kaepernick. Ranked 19th in the NFL
Carlos Hyde: Ranked 16th in the NFL
Bruce Miller: 2nd Team All – NFL Pro Football Focus
Daniel Kilgore: currently injured
Marcus Martin: currently starting but also has been lauded for poor pass protection that has led to six sacks allowed versus Green Bay, 6 sacks allowed against Pittsburgh, and 2 sacks against the Cardinals.
Quinton Dial: 7 tackles 1 Tackle for Loss. Tied for 8th on the team.
Navarro Bowman: 28 tackles (rank 1 on the team), 1 sack.
Aaron Lynch: 3 sacks, ranked 1st on team.
Eric Reid: 15 tackles. 1 pass deflected.
Kenneth Acker: 25 tackles. ranked third in the team. 1 pass deflected.
NOTEABLE DRAFT PICKS THAT LEFT 49ers
Anthony Davis: Retired early
Mike Iupati: left in free agency during 2015
Aldon Smith: released due to behavior
Chris Culliver: lost during free agency 2015
Nick Moody: released in 2015
Chris Borland: retired early
NOTABLE DRAFT BUSTS
Taylor Mays, 3rd round 2010
AJ Jenkins, 1st round 2012
LaMichael James, 2nd round 2012
Vance McDonald (still with the team but still has not lived up to the hype), 2nd round 2013
Marcus Lattimore, 4th round 2013
Marcus Martin, 3rd round 2014
Bradley Pinion (lackluster, still a rookie. May bounce back), 5th round 2015. Ended Andy Lee’s era as the punter of SF.
Overall draft grade: C-
NOTABLE FREE AGENTS SIGNINGS
Ahmad Brooks. Current player. Multiple arrests and hasn’t been pro bowl caliber since 2013.
Ray MacDonald: Multiple arrests. Dismissed by the team.
Dashon Goldson: played with pro bowl seasons, but failed to retain
Mario Manningham; rarely utilized. released after two seasons.
Brandon Jacobs: rarely utilized. released
Randy Moss: under produced. released after one season.
Perrish Cox: led team with interceptions. was not able to retain.
Torrey Smith: current. 3 catches, 100+ yards. 1 td in four games
Antoine Bethea: current. 2014 pro bowl appearance.
NOTABLE PLAYER TRADES AND GRADE
Fifth round : Ted Ginn Jr. C
Taylor Mays : 7th round Garrett Gillkey D
Alex Smith : two 2nd round picks: B
Sixth Round : Anquan Boldin A
Overall grade: C+
Overall player acquisition grade: C
Trent Baalke’s player and coach management has been awful and his inability to prevent a mass exodus of players and staff is astounding. It’s evident he doesn’t have a finger on the pulse of his team and every single facet of the team persona realizes it except ownership. The coaching staff is aware of the turmoil, the players, and the fans. A manager should be leading the team and is usually good at retaining good players and eliminating problem players just like in a corporate office. Sure, players may leave for more money. Yet, you should be able to keep a core or replenish.
However, in 2014-2015, the 49ers saw the exits of their winningest coach in the last ten years, the retirements of 4 players who are still strong enough to compete at a high level, and the arrests of Ray MacDonald/Ahmad Brooks/Aldon Smith.
With hope, there won’t be more players leaving before 2015 season is over.
Player/Coach Management Grade: F
It’s evident that Trent is a man who does not like to be wrong and he will continue to ride his bets on players who have not proven their worth on the field. He also tends to draft according to talent which has led to many quality players rarely seeing playing time . This is fine if the team is well rounded and we just need depth, but he neglected important draft needs.
In 2014, despite many desires by fans and writers alike, was to draft a wide receiver or cornerback. Instead, Baalke passed on players like Bradley Roby, Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, Cody Latimer, Jarvis Landry, Donte Moncrief, John Brown, Martavis Bryant, Antone Exum.
In 2015, the draft need again was wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, and lineman. Instead, Baalke picks up Arik Armstead, Safety Jaquaski Tart, and Eli Harold and missed out on Marcus Peters (Starter), Kevin Johnson, Nelson Agholor (starter), Breshad Perriman (starter), Devin Funchess (WR3), Dorial Green Beckham (WR3), Jalen Collins (Nickel), Bernardrick McKinney, Stephone Anthony (starter), Eric Kendricks, Denzel Perryman, Ronald Darby (Starter), Jake Fisher (starter), Mitch Morse (starter), Cedric Ogbuehi, Donovan Smith (starter), Senquez Golson, Rob Havenstein (starter), Ty Sombrailo (starter), Ali Marpet (starter), AJ Cann , Tyler Lockett (starter), Jamon Brown (starter), Sammie Coates (WR3)
Why didn’t we draft a player in problem areas?
WR: signed Torrey Smith and invested in previous draft picks Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington.
CB: invested in the three cornerbacks that were drafted the year prior (jury is still out)
Linebacker: Belief that Wilhoite is a quality starter (true)
Offensive Line: invested in picks like Marcus Martin (false), Brandon Thomas (jury is still out). Signed Erik Pears (terrible)
But it appears that Trent Baalke bought into his picks as if they are already starters that earned their roster spot and place on the lineup. How else would you explain the “depth” picks this year.
Jaquaski Tartt. Phenomenal player but doesn’t see the field much due to playing behind Antoine Bethea.
Eli Harold. Have yet to see him play many snaps as he is buried behind Brooks, Lemonier, and Lynch.
Blake Bell. A tight end. 1st of two drafted this year who would have to mix it up with Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald (played another awful game versus Green Bay), Garrett Celek, Derek Carrier (traded later in season)
Mike Davis. Another runningback when the team had Hyde, Hunter, Bush, Hayne.
Bradley Pinion. A punter who was drafted to save money on Andy Lee who had three punts today of less than 30 yards while Andy Lee was consistent.
Overall, this guy has made the correct moves to take a team from contender to scrapping for dear life. We can hope that this coaching staff that contains plenty former head coaches can figure out how to make this team a winner. But let’s stop Baalke from making everyone’s jobs that much harder and finally fire the guy everyone has been calling for in the last two years.
#FireBaalke. Shout it from the mountains, the stands at Levi’s, and every 49ers twitter account.