January 20, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Chip Kelly (left) and San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke (right) pose for a photo in a press conference after naming Kelly as the new head coach for the San Francisco 49ers at Levi
Seems the probable 2-14 finish for the San Francisco 49ers isn’t going to fly for ownership. Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke are reportedly out.
That means 2017 will mark their third general manager and fifth head coach in the past eight seasons. It’s little wonder this franchise has gone off the rails in such a short time. The massive roster losses combined with poor drafting and lack of stability at the top. For a time it looked like Baalke could do no wrong.
His first ever draft pick, Aldon Smith was an instant star as a pass rusher. His next pick was an athletic kid from Nevada in Colin Kaepernick with a cannon for an arm. A year later his team came just one questionable no-call away from winning the Super Bowl. After that things went downhill fast. Baalke’s relationship with Jim Harbaugh soured and there was a “mutual” parting of ways. After that things quickly hit rock bottom with Baalke hiring two coaches in two-straight years.
It seems ownership is tired of the lack of direction and is anxious for a complete overhaul. This begs the question. Who should the team seek to fill the positions of GM and head coach? Often the best course of action is to bring in a package deal. Nothing is more important than having two men in those spots who are familiar with each other. Here are three potential combos that could make a ton of sense.
Nick Caserio and Josh McDaniels
He started as a personnel assistant in 2001, became a scout and rose through the ranks to become director of player personnel. Nick Caserio has remained a hot name in the GM market for years. His ability to constantly shift and reshape the roster is a major reason the Patriots remain an AFC powerhouse. At the same time Josh McDaniels rose up with the team as an offensive coach. The two have known each other for well over a decade, being part of every single New England Super Bowl run. That familiarity and experience of success is exactly what the 49ers want.
That same context works in this facet as well. Scott Linehan was considered damaged goods after an unfortunate end to his first head coaching opportunity in St. Louis. He has since resurrected his career, transforming the Dallas Cowboys offense into one of the most diverse and effective in the NFL. One of the key men who helped build it was Will McClay, the teams’ director of player personnel. That makes them a terrific combo because McClay will know exactly the types of players he’ll need to get for Linehan to be a success in San Francisco.
Chris Ballard and Dave Toub
He came very close to gaining a job last year in Chicago but felt short. Most feel though that Chris Ballard will get one soon enough. He’s been a scout and personnel executive for years, helping build the Bears and Chiefs into contenders. Word is he’s interested in bringing special teams coach Dave Toub with him from Kansas City. Toub has steadily gained respect league-wide for his ability to manage a roster and motivate players. He’s worked with Ballard since their time together in Chicago. It’s a great match.