49ers reward GM Trent Baalke with 3-year extension

The San Francisco 49ers have confidence in Trent Baalke leading

them for the long haul.

The general manager on Friday received a three-year contract

extension through the 2016 season. CEO Jed York tweeted that

negotiations were finalized over a recent dinner.

”Contentious contract negotiation w/Trent over dinner. Didn’t

finalize terms until after we finished the chips & salsa,”

York tweeted.

York also formally announced Friday the addition of Gideon Yu as

president and co-owner after tweeting it last week, when NFL owners

at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis approved a $200 million loan to

help the 49ers build a stadium near their current training

site.

NFC West champion San Francisco went 13-3 in 2011 and advanced

to the NFC title game before losing in overtime to the eventual

Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Not only did Baalke hire away NFL Coach of the Year Jim Harbaugh

from nearby Stanford in January 2011, in perhaps his best signing

of all, he also acquired All-Pro placekicker David Akers and

brought in two Pro Bowl defensive backs – re-signing safety Dashon

Goldson and adding cornerback Carlos Rogers. Not to mention safety

Donte Whitner, who dealt his share of blows in a victory against

the favored Saints in the NFC divisional round.

They all made key impacts during a turnaround season as the

49ers ended an eight-year drought without a playoff berth or

winning record.

”Trent has distinguished himself as the man to direct our

football operations for years to come,” York said. ”Since taking

over as general manager last January, we have made great strides on

the football field under Trent’s leadership. It gives me great

pleasure to watch Trent and Jim work arm in arm with the common

goal of leading the 49ers to championships.”

The 49ers earned the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff

bye and went 6-2 on the road, with four of those victories coming

in comeback fashion.

All that after Baalke drew criticism over whether he had made

enough splashy moves in free agency to improve his roster after the

lockout.

Baalke has been with the team in various jobs since 2005, when

he was hired as a regional scout. He moved up to director of player

personnel in 2008, to vice president in the same capacity in 2010

and to general manager last year.

The reserved Baalke expressed his gratitude to the York family,

Harbaugh, the other coaches and football operations staff as well

as the players.

”The success we experienced on the field was a direct result of

their efforts,” Baalke said. ”It is a privilege to work for the

49ers organization, alongside this group, as we continue our

pursuit of championships.”

When York began looking for a GM, he vowed to open an exhaustive

national search, then ultimately decided to go with the familiar

face who had shown plenty of leadership and reliable

decision-making. York took heat for it, too, as some believed he

had settled for Baalke over a bigger name.

Yet it was Baalke who orchestrated the contract extensions for

two key 49ers before the 2010 season: All-Pro linebacker Patrick

Willis and tight end Vernon Davis. Running back Frank Gore got his

coveted new deal before the 2011 season.

Baalke, a former college coach who also worked four years in the

scouting department for the Washington Redskins before coming to

San Francisco, made two first-round picks in 2010 – offensive

linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati – and both became instant

starters. Last season’s rookies also shined: Aldon Smith with 14

sacks, Kendall Hunter as Gore’s reliable backup, and Bruce Miller

as a defensive end turned fullback.

Akers’ 44 field goals set an NFL record – Baalke scooped him up

when the Eagles decided he was expendable.

”He had a plan, and he stuck with it,” Goldson said late in

the year. ”And look where we’re at now.”