Update 3/18/10, 4:07pm:
The San Francisco 49ers are cutting ties with their general manager, Scot McCloughan, over what has been described as a "personal matter" not related to team issues.
Reached Thursday morning, McCloughan told FanHouse via text message, "I'm fine and moving forward." He would not elaborate further.
Update 3/18/10, 2:38pm:
The Merc's Tim Kawakami reports:
"Source: 49ers are making short-term adjustments in front-office structure to fill McCloughan's duties. Nothing final on a departure, but...it seems pretty clear that McCloughan is out or on his way out."
Just five weeks before the NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers might be without their general manager Scot McCloughan.
As reported earlier by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat , McCloughan met with 49ers upper management behind closed doors Wednesday, and has since relocated files from his office.
With two picks in the first round this year, the move couldn't come at a worse time for the team. McCloughan has made questionable moves in the past, but is still widely considered the best talent evaluator on the team in terms of experience and past success.
It's not immediately known who might replace McCloughan, but whoever it is they'll have just five weeks to prepare for what could be the team's most important draft in recent memory.
Top candidates, according to Matt Barrows and The Sacramento Bee , are Trent Baalke, the director of player personnel, and Tom Gamble, the director of pro personnel.
Profiles on both from the San Francisco 49ers official website:
Trent Baalke enters his sixth season with the 49ers and his third as the team’s director of player personnel after being appointed to the position in February of 2008. In his 13th NFL season, Baalke oversees both the college and pro personnel departments.
Prior to being named director of player personnel, Baalke served as the Western region scout for the 49ers for three years. He joined San Francisco after spending four years on the Washington Redskins scouting staff, his last (2004) as the club’s college scouting coordinator. From 2001 to 2003, Baalke served as Washington’s national scout, traveling throughout the country in search of rising talent.
Tom Gamble enters his 23rd NFL season and his sixth year with the 49ers as the Director of Pro Personnel. In his role, Gamble monitors every NFL roster with an emphasis on scouting talent of upcoming pro free agents. He is also responsible for maintaining continuous depth of personnel on the 49ers roster. Gamble’s extensive NFL resume includes work in both college and pro scouting, contract negotiations, and a stint in the coaching ranks with the New York Jets.
Both seem qualified at first glance, but regardless, McCloughan's departure will be considered especially poor timing for Niners fans. Two highly regarded possible replacements—Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan—found work just recently, with the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins respectively.
And now, for all intents and purpose, the cupboard for available big name general managers is bare.
Once again, as has been the case for the better part of the past decade, the 49ers might find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.