The San Francisco 49ers are taking a risky approach to this year's primetime NFL draft.
Heading into the most important draft in years, they're flying without a general manager.
Oh, they have a guy who's the point person on the draft. His name is
But a general manager? Nope. Not now. Maybe never.
"I don't know if we're going to have a general manager," team president
If the 49ers wanted evidence of what a bad concept the GM-less football team is, all they would have to do is glance across the bay to their neighbors in Oakland. The Raiders have been operating without a true general manager ever since
Most NFL teams need a well-defined general manager. A clear chain of command. Someone who can be the final decision-maker.
Apparently not Bay Area teams.
This is a critical draft for the 49ers. With the retirement of
It's a potentially huge turning point for a team that hasn't finished above .500 in seven seasons. In addition, the franchise faces a critical vote in early June on a stadium measure in Santa Clara. The 49ers are hoping to build a $937 million stadium and asking for a public contribution of $114 million. So it would be a good idea to head into the vote looking like a capable, efficient team that's worthy of the public's trust.
A few years ago, the 49ers had a lengthy and comical discussion about who had "the trigger" on personnel decisions --
Baalke is clearly acting in the general manager role for the moment, so you could argue this is just semantics. But no one has given him the official title. And semantics and clarification of duties are important in any organization. The teams moving forward are generally the ones with a transparent structure and obvious accountability.
The 49ers have a lot of needs. The most glaring is offensive tackle, and the 2010 draft is rich with offensive line prospects. The 49ers -- with picks at 13, 17 and 49 -- have the means to get creative, packaging picks and to move up or down. They already made a positive move, sending their fifth-round pick to Miami for return specialist/receiver
Quarterback remains an ongoing issue for the 49ers. Though the team has publicly backed
There are a lot of big decisions to make for a guy who's only had five weeks to get ready and is working without the trigger or the title. Welcome to primetime, Trent Baalke.