Trent Baalke will resurface in Jacksonville. More than three years after the 49ers fired him from the GM post he held for much of the 2010s, Baalke will join the Jaguars as their director of player personnel, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.
The Jaguars are replacing Chris Polian with Baalke, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Polian had been with the Jags since Dave Caldwell came aboard as GM in 2013. This will be Baalke’s first role with a non-49ers team in 16 years.
Baalke, 55, worked his way up the ladder in San Francisco, going from regional scout to GM. His tenure produced notable clashes with Jim Harbaugh and ended with the 49ers becoming the first team to have back-to-back one-and-done HCs in nearly 40 years, but Baalke did team with Harbaugh to lift the 49ers to their most consistently strong stretch since the 1990s. The 49ers trekked to three straight NFC championship games from 2011-13 and came close to winning Super Bowl XLVII.
In 2017, Baalke joined the league office as a football operations consultant. This represents a key opportunity for the former 49ers, Jets and Redskins staffer. Baalke began his career with the Jets in the late 1990s before being a Redskins scout for four seasons in the early 2000s.
Polian was once linked to the 49ers’ GM job in 2017. That job went to John Lynch, who has played a key role in resurrecting a franchise that had endured a steep freefall in Baalke’s final years. Baalke hires Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly went a combined 7-25 between the 2015-16 seasons. A second-generation NFLer, Chris Polian had served under father Bill Polian in Indianapolis during the latter’s tenure there. Chris Polian re-emerged in Jacksonville and rose from pro personnel director to player personnel director during his lengthy tenure.
This hire comes shortly after Shad Khan surprised some by announcing Caldwell and Doug Marrone would return for another season, despite the Jags having fallen far since the 2017 AFC title game. Caldwell figures to enter the 2020 season on the hot set, but Baalke will attempt to help this regime right the ship.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.