49ers GM Trent Baalke confirms firing to radio station

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke says he has been fired by the team.

Baalke confirmed the news on Sunday during his pregame interview with the team's flagship radio station KNBR. The 49ers had no comment on Baalke's announcement before the team's season finale against Seattle.

Baalke helped build the roster that made three straight trips to the NFC title game from 2011-13 and one Super Bowl appearance. But the team has had declining win totals the past three seasons, including a record 13-game losing streak this year.

"It didn't surprise me," Baalke told the radio station. "We've done some awful good things. Some very successful seasons. Unfortunately regret we weren't able to bring a championship to the Bay Area, which they so deserve. I think the faithful has been great. Wish this organization nothing, but the best moving forward. I do see a bright future for them."

Baalke said he attended the season finale despite being fired out of respect to the organization since 2005.

ESPN reported Saturday night that both Baalke and coach Chip Kelly are expected to be fired after the season. San Francisco (2-13) can tie the franchise record for losses in a season by losing to the Seahawks on Sunday.

The 49ers struggled after cutting ties with Jim Harbaugh following the 2014 season.

The team went 5-11 last season and fired Jim Tomsula and now appear to be moving on from Kelly as well, which would mark the first time in nearly four decades that a team fired coaches in successive years after just one-year tenures.

The only other time that happened since the 1970 merger came when San Francisco fired Monte Clark after the 1976 season and Ken Meyer the following year. The Niners then fired Pete McCulley midway through the 1978 season and interim coach Fred O'Connor after the year before hiring Bill Walsh to start a dynasty that featured five Super Bowl titles.

Baalke had a dramatic fall after getting credit for helping build the roster that was one of the NFL's best from 2011-13. But a string of poor drafts, a power struggle with Harbaugh and three straight years of declining win totals led to his ouster.

Baalke originally joined the Niners as a scout in 2005 and quickly worked his way up to director of player personnel where he helped then-general manager Scot McCloughan put together many of the pieces of the team that would be one of the most talented in the league.

Baalke replaced McCloughan as the top front office executive shortly before the 2010 draft and came away from that with a load of talent led by Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and NaVorro Bowman.

Baalke was given the title of general manager the following year when the Niners hired Harbaugh as coach and Baalke had another successful draft that featured All-Pro pass rusher Aldon Smith and quarterback Colin Kaepernick with his first two picks.

The talent well went dry after that. Despite having 51 picks since 2012, Baalke has not added an impact player in any of those five drafts.

Top two picks in 2012 A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James barely played for the 49ers; 2013 first-round safety Eric Reid is a solid starter and second-round tight end Vance McDonald has contributed; running back Carlos Hyde, cornerback Jimmie Ward and Lynch are the only starters from the 2014 draft; and no one from the 2015 draft class has shined as of yet.

Baalke has made a habit of drafting injured players in hopes that a year off to get healthy will turn those players into high-value picks. That strategy has not worked as only two of the seven players he drafted the past four years coming off significant knee injuries have even played a game in the NFL this season.

Perhaps the biggest issue with Baalke's drafting is hesitancy to take skill position players. Since missing badly with first and second-round picks on Jenkins and James in 2012, Baalke has had 15 picks in the first three rounds and used just one — Hyde — on a quarterback, receiver or running back.

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