Niners front office has plenty to prove 

click to enlarge Though new 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, right, accomplished his first goal, picking up - Jim Harbaugh as coach, there are still plenty of other problems the team needs to address going into next season. - AP FILE PHOTO
  • AP file photo
  • Though new 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, right, accomplished his first goal, picking up Jim Harbaugh as coach, there are still plenty of other problems the team needs to address going into next season.

Forgive the fan of the 49ers who is skeptical.

It’s been so long since anything worked for this franchise that when anything appears to go right, a certain percentage of the faithful are looking for a banana peel.

In 2005, Mike Nolan rode in as the answer. He arrived with an impressive resume, heralded as one of the game’s most-highly regarded defensive coordinators. Sadly, Nolan slowly disintegrated into a quirky, questionable figure who raised eyebrows at every turn.

Three years later, held up as the solution to the 49ers’ woes was Mike Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker who could lead men. He was to be the figure around whom a talented, young roster would rally as the 49ers once again became a force in the game of football.

Over the last four months, Singletary’s leadership dissolved into a series of laughable missteps. The eyes that once brought out Singletary’s intensity glassed over when he realized he had no answers.

Which leads us to the latest moment when the faithful must summon faith anew at yet another set of answers to the questions facing the 49ers.

Trent Baalke appears to be a young, up-and-coming personnel figure. Jim Harbaugh appears to be the hottest coaching commodity in the game, college or pro. Neither has won a single NFL game as general manager or coach in the league.

Maybe the Niners have turned the corner. Maybe not. 

Maybe Jed York really does yield all football decisions to Baalke. Daniel Snyder has yet to do that in Washington. Jerry Jones continues to dabble too deep in Dallas.

Harbaugh has the NFL background to silence those who say success at the college level means nothing in the pros — a first-round draft pick who played for four teams over 14 years in the league, and served as an offensive assistant and a quarterbacks coach over two years with the Raiders.

Baalke and Harbaugh might just do it.

Unfortunately, they take over needing to fill the biggest hole a football team needs to fill — a quarterback — without a single likely candidate at the present moment.

No way they bring back Alex Smith. No matter what Harbaugh sees on tape, the Niner nation would not have it. Troy Smith is still a question mark as an NFL starting quarterback.

The NFL’s free-agent pool yields few viable options. Don’t flinch if the name Seneca Wallace comes up as a temporary answer for a season or two.

Andrew Luck returned to Stanford. Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton looks like a project. And the other college prospects — Ryan Mallet (Arkansas), Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) and Andy Dalton (TCU) — all need work.
All reasons that could make a 49ers fan skeptical.

Tim Liotta is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at tliotta@sfexaminer.com.

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