The Jacksonville Jaguars have hired Trent Baalke as the Director of Player Personnel, the club announced today.
Baalke, a veteran of 20-plus years in the NFL, spent 12 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2005-16), including six seasons as the 49ers’ general manager from 2011-16. From 2017-19, Baalke worked for the NFL as a football operations consultant.
“I have known Trent for two decades and he’ll be a valuable addition to our personnel department,” said Jaguars General Manager Dave Caldwell. “He had a lot of success during his time in San Francisco and has proven that he has a great eye for talent and constructing a team, so we’re excited for him to be a part of the organization. We look forward to welcoming Trent and his wife, Beth, to Jacksonville, and we expect him to get involved immediately as we make decisions on our current roster and approach free agency.”
In Baalke’s six years as general manager with the 49ers, San Francisco totaled a 51-44 record, earning three consecutive NFC Championship appearances from 2011-13. In 2011, Baalke earned NFL executive of the Year, as selected by Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers of America, after helping transform a 6-10 team into a 13-3 team in his first season as general manager. During Baalke’s tenure overseeing all player acquisitions, beginning as the team’s vice president of player personnel, the 49ers produced 24 All-Pro selections and 35 Pro Bowl acknowledgements.
Baalke joined the 49ers as a western region scout prior to being promoted to director of pro personnel in 2007. He spent four years with the Washington Redskins scouting staff where he served as the college scouting coordinator in his final season. From 2001-03, he served as Washington’s national scout. Baalke started his NFL career as a personnel scout with the New York Jets from 1998-2000.
Prior to his NFL career, Baalke worked as a defensive line and strength and conditioning coach at South Dakota State from 1990-95 before working as the athletic director at Shanley High School in Fargo, N.D., in 1996 and 1997. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at North Dakota State in 1989 helping the team finish with a 14-0 record and Division II National Championship.
For 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, Super Bowl 54 provides an opportunity for redemption. The last time Shanahan coached in a Super Bowl was when he was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
In that game, the Falcons were dominating the Patriots and were up 28-3 in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Falcons and Shanahan, the Patriots would score the final 31 points and would defeat the Falcons 34-28 in overtime. This was the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.
Losing in the Super Bowl was very difficult for Shanahan, and on Monday, he discussed how he felt after the loss to the Patriots.
“The days after were real tough,” Shanahan said. “Losing a Super Bowl is extremely tough for everybody, especially when you lose one when you have a 28-3 lead going into the fourth. The way it came down on me personally, I didn’t react to that, I think, the way people would expect because there were definitely parts in that Super Bowl that I would love to have back and stuff I was very hard on myself, but the whole narrative of if I would’ve just ran it, we would’ve won. I know that wasn’t the case.
“I know what went into that game and all the stuff that happened, so that stuff didn’t bother me. You’ve got to deal with that and listen to other people, but it was nice to be able to move on and move out here and just keep working. I’m glad I’m going to get the chance to go back.”
With the Falcons leading 28-20 late in the fourth quarter, the Falcons moved the ball all the way down to the Patriots’ 22-yard line. However, Falcons QB Matt Ryan was sacked, and then, the Falcons were called for a holding the penalty, which pushed the Falcons out of field goal range.
Shanahan discussed what he did wrong.
“Yeah, the play I regretted the most was when we got down there,” Shanahan said. “We haven’t converted a third down, really the entire second half, I think we were averaging one yard a carry rushing. So, when you do that, the formula to keep giving the ball back to someone is to go run-run-pass. You’re going to make a third-and-seven at best every single time. If you’re not converting third downs, that makes it tough. We did mix it up a little bit. I think we actually ran it more in the second half than we did in the first half.
“The other team was I think 34 of 38, converted all their third downs, couldn’t get the ball. Finally they got it within a score, we got it back and got pretty aggressive to get it down there. It was a second-and-10, called a pass on the last time down there. On second-and-10 I called a run. We got a two-yard loss and a holding call that put us out of field goal range. This time I went the opposite. Tried to get a play to [Atlanta Falcons WR] Julio [Jones]. They played a different coverage, didn’t get the call I wanted, so I didn’t like the call. I was hoping we could just get rid of it, but they had a pretty good rush and got a sack. Once that happened, I knew we had to throw because now we were out of field goal range. Threw it the next down to [Atlanta Falcons WR Mohamed] Sanu, ran a choice-route breaking out and moved the chains, but they called a holding call on our left tackle so that put us way back and we had to throw again to get back into it and we missed it. I wish I didn’t call that play on second-and-11 that led to that sack.”
Obviously, the Falcons should have won that football game, but Bill Belichick and Tom Brady made magic happen, and the rest is history.
Hopefully, for Shanahan, he can get vindication in Super Bowl 54.
In life, when you know what to expect, you can better prepare for all the possibilities, which is the case for the Minnesota Vikings.
In 2017, Minnesota went to the NFC title game, and a lot of players who made that run for the Vikings are still with the team. Conversely, for the 49ers, that is not the case. The last time San Francisco made the playoffs was 2013. On Saturday, their QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be making his playoff debut as a starter when the 49ers host Minnesota in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Regarding experience, you have to favor Minnesota, and while Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer thinks experience will help his team, it’s still about playing good football.
“I can’t speak for their team,” Zimmer said on Thursday. “I do feel like us being in the NFC Championship game two years ago, we can draw on some things through that course of that process that we had. One thing is the number of media that’s going to be out on the field before the game. As these games continue getting bigger, the distractions become bigger. I think we can draw on that. It’s still going out and playing good football.”
The stage does get much bigger as you move on in the playoffs, and whether the 49ers are equipped to handle the big stage, will be revealed on Saturday. It’s much easier to win in the regular season than it is in the playoffs, and because it’s win or go home, the stakes are much higher.
Beating two 13-win teams in consecutive weeks on the road is never easy, but that’s what the Vikings will have to do to if they want to move on. They have the experience, and they will need all of that and more to beat the Niners on Saturday.