SANTA CLARA (CBS / AP) — The San Francisco 49ers have confidence in Trent Baalke leading them for the long haul.
The general manager on Friday received a three-year contract extension through the 2016 season. CEO Jed York tweeted that negotiations were finalized over a recent dinner.
“Contentious contract negotiation w/Trent over dinner. Didn’t finalize terms until after we finished the chips & salsa,” York tweeted.
York also formally announced Friday the addition of Gideon Yu as president and co-owner after tweeting it last week, when NFL owners at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis approved a $200 million loan to help the 49ers build a stadium near their current training site.
NFC West champion San Francisco went 13-3 in 2011 and advanced to the NFC title game before losing in overtime to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
Not only did Baalke hire away NFL Coach of the Year Jim Harbaugh from nearby Stanford in January 2011, in perhaps his best signing of all, he also acquired All-Pro placekicker David Akers and brought in two Pro Bowl defensive backs—safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Carlos Rogers. Not to mention safety Donte Whitner, who dealt his share of blows in a victory against the favored Saints in the NFC divisional round.
They all made key impacts during a turnaround season as the 49ers ended an eight-year drought without a playoff berth or winning record.
“Trent has distinguished himself as the man to direct our football operations for years to come,” York said. “Since taking over as general manager last January, we have made great strides on the football field under Trent’s leadership. It gives me great pleasure to watch Trent and Jim work arm-in-arm with the common goal of leading the 49ers to championships.”
The 49ers earned the NFC’s No. 2 seed and a first-round playoff bye and went 6-2 on the road, with four of those victories coming in comeback fashion.
All that after Baalke drew criticism over whether he had made enough splashy moves in free agency to improve his roster after the lockout.
Baalke has been with the team in various jobs since 2005, when he was hired as a regional scout. He moved up to director of player personnel in 2008, to vice president in the same capacity in 2010 and to general manager last year.
The private, behind-the-scenes Baalke expressed his gratitude to the York family, Harbaugh, the other coaches and football operations staff as well as the players.
“The success we experienced on the field was a direct result of their efforts,” Baalke said. “It is a privilege to work for the 49ers organization, alongside this group, as we continue our pursuit of championships.”
When York began looking for a GM, he vowed to open an exhaustive national search, then ultimately decided to go with the familiar face who had shown plenty of leadership and reliable decision-making. York took heat for it, too, as some believed he had settled for Baalke over a bigger name.
Yet it was Baalke who orchestrated the contract extensions for two key 49ers before the 2010 season: five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis and tight end Vernon Davis. Running back Frank Gore got his coveted new deal before the 2011 season.
Baalke, a former college coach who also worked four years in the scouting department for the Washington Redskins before coming to San Francisco, made two first-round picks in 2010 — offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati—and both became instant starters. Last season’s rookies also shined: Aldon Smith with 14 sacks, Kendall Hunter as Gore’s reliable backup, and Bruce Miller as a defensive end turned fullback.
Akers’ 44 field goals set an NFL record—Baalke scooped him up when the Eagles decided he was expendable.
“He had a plan, and he stuck with it,” Goldson said late in the year. “And look where we’re at now.”
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