San Francisco 49ers: Early Indications That Leadership Crisis May Linger to 2011

Steve ButlerCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2011

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 26: Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sideline at the Edward Jones Dome on December 26, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the 49ers 25-17. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

During the 2010 season, a controversial firing of San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye left him with some choice words. "I was doing exactly what [then-49ers head coach Mike Singletary] told me to do," Raye insisted when addressing the media after he was replaced with quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson.

For as much as Mike Johnson proclaimed he would do things differently as the offensive coordinator, we still saw a lot of the same. Running plays on 1st and 2nd-and-long, runs that did not cater to the talent of the running backs and ineffective use of a potent receiving corps.

After interviewing for the open 49ers general manager job, we have current NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi walking out saying that the team intends to hire Trent Baalke as the GM. To make matters worse, apparently the team likes Jim Harbaugh as the coach? Pardon me, "grubby fingers" York, I thought you said that this decision would be up to the general manager? You know, one of those guys who gets hired when the president and CEO doesn't have the experience to be a football mind?

So how is it that the GM who we do not yet have, lists Jim Harbaugh as his front-runner? Quite frankly, the thought of Michael Lombardi as GM doesn't make me feel any better than the job being offered to Trent Baalke. The notion that Jim Harbaugh is an excellent head-coaching candidate for the red and gold is one that I heavily agree with, however if we the fans are told that the head coach will be selected by the GM, then there is no front-runner.

Trent Baalke, a self proclaimed supporter of the Three Running Back Rotation, also seemed to have trouble implementing what he wanted to do. Baalke drafted Mississippi State bulldozer Anthony Dixon, and brought in a proven veteran in Brian Westbrook.

When it came time for the season, the three back idea was hardly materialized. The 49ers ran Frank Gore until he broke, literally, rather than a balanced utilization of Gore and the equally potent Westbrook. Does Trent Baalke have puppet strings too? Is this why he is favored to be the GM?

As a 49er fan since the late '80s, I can't help but notice that lately the team has tried to steer clear of individuals who have had success as an NFL coach and have a system of their own that works. The 49ers system is broken, and there are no clear leaders from within who have the potential to change that.

Quite frankly, I'm starting to wonder if Jed York's ego is at play here. Believe me, I HOPE that I am wrong, but it's also something I can't ignore because we've seen this all before. If it is Baalke and Harbaugh next year, I'm not going to get my hopes up. I hope the 49ers are not scripting for failure again.