The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly planning to get rid of general manager Trent Baalke at the end of the season, ending what would be an up-and-down tenure with the team. He took over in 2011 and won Executive of the Year as the 49ers went 13-3, but the 49ers have seemingly gotten worse every year since, culminating in their current 1-13 record.
With Baalke reportedly fired, who could San Francisco target to be his replacement? Here are the top 5 candidates:
5) George Paton, Vikings assistant general manager
Paton has been with the Vikings for eight seasons, and has helped put together one of the best young rosters in the league in Minnesota. If it wasn't for Teddy Bridgewater's injury, the Vikings would likely be in much better position this year. If the Vikings look elsewhere, Paton is a guy in line to get GM job sooner rather than later.
4) Chris Ballard, Chiefs director of football operations
Another up-and-coming executive, Ballard has played a major role in assembling Kansas City's roster of talented young players and reliable veterans. It's likely that someone will hire him to be a general manager this offseason, and the 49ers would be smart to at least give him a call.
3) Mike Lombardi, former NFL executive
Lombardi has held various positions in NFL front offices since 1983, getting his start as a scout with the 49ers, where he stayed until 1987. He is currently an analyst for Fox Sports 1, but has stayed in the game by serving as an assistant to the coaching staff for the Patriots since 2014. Lombardi would be the experienced choice.
2) Mike Shanahan, former NFL head coach
Shanahan has been rumored to be joining the 49ers each of the past few offseasons as either the head coach or in a front office role, and now is the time those rumors could become reality. He has been out of the league since 2013, but is a well-respected person in league circles. Plus, he has experience in rebuilding a team, doing it with both the Broncos and Redskins.
1) Scott Pioli, Falcons assistant general manager
Pioli certainly has plenty of experience, serving as the GM of the Chiefs and a VP of player personnel in for the Patriots dating back to 2002. He has an excellent draft record with a reputation for finding stars and those "diamonds in the rough." For a team that hasn't drafted well and has a huge lack of talent, Pioli would be a more than welcomed addition.