49ers GM Trent Baalke confirms firing to radio station
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke has been fired and coach Chip Kelly is meeting with team CEO Jed York to determine his status after the 49ers tied a franchise record for losses in a season.
While the team has made no official announcement on any possible changes, Baalke confirmed his firing during his pregame interview with the team's flagship radio station KNBR.
Kelly said after San Francisco's 25-23 loss to Seattle that he would meet with York. The loss meant the 49ers (2-14) tied the worst record in franchise history previously done in 1978, `79 and 2004.
ESPN reported Saturday night that both Baalke and Kelly are expected to be fired after the season.
''I control what I can control,'' Kelly said. ''All we can control is how we coach our players and what we do with them. If that's good enough, it's good enough. It it's not good enough, so be it.''
Baalke helped build the roster that made three straight trips to the NFC title game from 2011-13 and one Super Bowl appearance. But the team has had declining win totals the past three seasons, including a record 13-game losing streak this season.
''It didn't surprise me,'' Baalke told the radio station. ''We've done some awful good things. Some very successful seasons.
''Unfortunately regret we weren't able to bring a championship to the Bay Area, which they so deserve. I think the faithful has been great. Wish this organization nothing, but the best moving forward. I do see a bright future for them.''
The 49ers struggled after cutting ties with Jim Harbaugh following the 2014 season.
The team went 5-11 last season and fired Jim Tomsula and now appear to be moving on from Kelly as well, which would mark the first time in nearly four decades that a team fired coaches in successive years after just one-year tenures.
The only other time that happened since the 1970 merger came when San Francisco fired Monte Clark after the 1976 season and Ken Meyer the following year. The Niners then fired Pete McCulley midway through the 1978 season and interim coach Fred O'Connor after the year before hiring Bill Walsh to start a dynasty that featured five Super Bowl titles.
''It's frustrating we're in this position again,'' left tackle Joe Staley said. ''As a player you have to look at yourself first. What can I do next season to make sure we're not in this position.''
The 49ers lost 13 straight games at one point this season and their only wins came against the Rams. San Francisco set franchise worsts for points, total yards and yards rushing allowed in a season and blew four double-digit leads in eight home games.
''When we lose like we did and have a season like we had, changes are made, or can be made,'' receiver Torrey Smith said. ''That's from coaches to players. It's all of us. We were all a part of the problem. That's why our record is what it was.''
Baalke had a dramatic fall after getting credit for helping build the roster that was one of the NFL's best from 2011-13. But a string of poor drafts, a power struggle with Harbaugh and three straight years of declining win totals led to his ouster.
Baalke originally joined the Niners as a scout in 2005 and quickly worked his way up to director of player personnel where he helped then-general manager Scot McCloughan put together many of the pieces of the team that would be one of the most talented in the league.
Baalke replaced McCloughan as the top front office executive shortly before the 2010 draft and came away from that with a load of talent led by Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and NaVorro Bowman.
Baalke was given the title of general manager the following year when the Niners hired Harbaugh as coach and Baalke had another successful draft that featured All-Pro pass rusher Aldon Smith and quarterback Colin Kaepernick with his first two picks.
The talent well went dry after that. Despite having 51 picks since 2012, Baalke has not added an impact player in any of those five drafts.
Baalke has made a habit of drafting injured players in hopes that a year off to get healthy will turn those players into high-value picks. That strategy has not worked as only two of the seven players he drafted the past four years coming off significant knee injuries have even played a game in the NFL this season.
Perhaps the biggest issue with Baalke's drafting is hesitancy to take skill position players. Since 2012, Baalke has had 15 picks in the first three rounds and used just one - second-round running back Carlos Hyde in 2013 - on a quarterback, receiver or running back.
For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL