Former San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke is heading to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis looking to rebuild the Jacksonville Jaguars under the new coaching regime led by Doug Pederson.
Baalke, however, wasn’t just asked about the Jaguars using the first week of March to look at potential future Jaguars.
The Jags’ general manager was asked about his last team employer before heading to North Florida: The 49ers. Particularly, what he learned from his experiences in the Bay Area.
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What he Said Made him Better
The 58-year-old Baalke spent his most NFL executive years with the 49ers — from 2005 (as a scout) to spending 2011 to 2016 as general manager.
Baalke witnessed lots of high and low moments. Unfortunately for Baalke, most 49er fans will likely remember him for his mistakes toward the end that ultimately led to his firing — a la draft blunders and hiring Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly in head coaching positions, the latter hire eventually becoming his final head coach hire with the 49ers. Baalke, however, remembered those moments and how he believes have shaped him in his new role with the Jags.
“I think anytime you go through what you go through in San Francisco, you get better,” Baalke told reporters through a video by The Athletic’s David Lombardi. “I mean, you learn from the part of the successes, you learn from your mistakes that you make and certainly we made a few of them and I made my share and you hope to learn from them in that rear view.”
Baalke’s High/Low Moments
Baalke saw his share of worst seasons in franchise history to being a part of the 49ers’ resurgence as an NFC contender.
In his first season, the 49ers went 4-12 under Mike Nolan. Including that season, the 49ers missed the playoffs and had their best season at 8-8 in 2009 when Mike Singletary was the head coach and Baalke worked as director of player personnel.
But from the moment Baalke was elevated to GM and hired away Bay Area coaching superstar Jim Harbaugh from Stanford, the franchise experienced their ascension.
In Baalke’s next three seasons in his new post, the 49ers combined to go 41-14-1 and played in three consecutive NFC title games — winning the 2012 season conference title. However, once Harbaugh left the franchise for his college alma mater Michigan, the 49ers fell to a combined 7-25 the next two seasons and went through two head coaching changes.
Regardless, Baalke was reflective about his time in the Bay Area.
“Great memories,” Baalke said. “You know it’s a great organization, great leadership from ownership on down. I can’t say enough good things about Jed (York) and John (Lynch) and the York family.”
Does Baalke still have respect from the organization he eventually parted ways from?
“You know, my time there was well spent and we accomplished a lot,” Baalke said. “We had some failures…you know that’s a part of this business. You know, you ride that wave and sometimes you’re at the top of it, sometimes you’re at the bottom of it. But I’ve got nothing but respect for the organization — the people that own it and manage it.”