Trent Baalke one for one (so far)
Trent Baalke made a huge splash as the new General Manager for the San Francisco 49ers with the hiring of much coveted Jim Harbaugh. Numerous NFL and NCAA teams were pursuing Jim Harbaugh, the chances the 49ers would land him was meager. Yet the new GM landed the guy who may be able to turn around a once proud franchise. Jim Harbaugh turned a 1-11 train wreck into a 12-1 Orange Bowl Champion. He will have to turn around the 49ers without all world quarterback Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck made play calling and decision making easy for Harbaugh, the Niners do not have that luxury. This brings me to my next point.
Trent Baalke is one for one so far, now he has to keep the momentum going forward and have a nice 2011 draft. The 49ers have many pieces in place, but the holes they have are glaring. The first gaping hole you notice is the lack of a NFL caliber quarterback. Neither Alex nor Troy Smith is the answer. The decision for Baalke is a tough one. Does he pick an established veteran quarterback on the market i.e. Donovan McNabb, or spend a first round pick on a QB in the draft.
The 49ers have a young core group of players. These players are ready to start winning in the very near future. Drafting a "project" player would catastrophic for the upstart 49ers. Bottom line drafting Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert would be a horrible decision. It is very rare in the NFL for a college spread offense quarterback to perform well on Sundays. This is especially true when the quarterback has attitude, work ethic and most of all accuracy problems. Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are both big strong players that performed well in college, but neither of them has displayed strong character or an accurate arm. The 49ers cannot draft a reincarnation of Ryan Leaf or Jemarcus Russell. The franchise and fans will not recover from that kid of embarrassment.
Now that we know Trent Baalke is too intelligent to draft Newton or Gabbert, who will he draft? The most logical answer is Jake Locker from the University of Washington. Locker is a big strong kid, who says and does all of the right things. Locker does not accept money from colleges, cheat on test, steal or play out of shape. He is a character guy and that is what every Coach and GM say they want. Oh by the way Locker has a strong/accurate arm and could scramble away from pressure with the best of them. Locker would help unify a locker room that spent last year in disarray. Locker is not the only option at QB he is just the best.
Trent Baalke may be stuck on drafting a huge quarterback that throws the ball 60 yards from his knees. In this case still pass on Newton or Gabbert, and go with Ryan Mallett from Arkansas. Ryan Mallett is gigantic with immense talent. He is still not the leader that Locker is, but he has more potential then the two higher rated busts. Jim Harbaugh should be able to help Mallett grow into a leader on the field and in the locker room. As seen on TV Vernon Davis and Frank Gore will not tolerate poor attitudes on the sideline. Unlike Newton or Gabbert Mallett has the ability to at least hide his infant like approach, for the betterment of the team.
The last option for Baalke and Harbaugh is too acquire a NFL veteran QB. The first name that comes to mind is Donovan McNabb. McNabb is a winner and a solid quarterback. McNabb has never won the big show, but he will get you there. McNabb will not hurt the 49ers at all; he would bring a strong presence into the locker room. Another nice quarterback for the 49ers would be Kevin Kolb who is all but out the door in Philadelphia. Kevin Kolb is a class guy who has a nice game on the field. Kolb would be able to come in and use his big arm to get the ball to VD and Crabtree deep. The other big name out there is Vince Young. "Trent Baalke: DO NOT DO IT!"