49ers bracing for changes after miserable season
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The 49ers players realize significant changes could be coming after one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
“You never want to have a situation at the end of the year your record kind of says there’s going to have to be some kind of changes and stuff,” said left tackle Joe Staley, the team’s longest-tenured player. “Whatever that is, I have no idea.”
The first year of coach Chip Kelly’s tenure has not gone according to plan after San Francisco fired two coaches the previous two seasons. Kelly’s team set a franchise record with 13 consecutive losses and will have one of the top picks of the NFL draft.
“When you have a talented locker room like we do, and we have the season that we had, obviously, I think they are going to be changes,” defensive lineman Quinton Dial said. “Where? I can’t say. I’m kind of with Staley.”
General manager Trent Baalke has faced criticism. The talent level on the roster has declined significantly since the 49ers (2-13) went to three straight conference championship games, including a Super Bowl appearance, from 2011 to 2013 with Jim Harbaugh as coach.
Only one of Baalke’s draft picks since he was selected to the position in 2011 has been voted to the Pro Bowl.
That was pass rusher Aldon Smith, who was released before the start of last season after a lengthy string of run-ins with the law, culminated in August 2015 by an arrest for drunk driving, hit-and-run and vandalism. Smith has been suspended for more than a calendar year since he signed with the Raiders.
Baalke was in charge of the draft in 2010 as the vice president of player personnel. He acquired four-time All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman and a pair of key offensive lineman Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, although neither is still with the team.
Baalke was honored as the executive of the year during his first season in 2011 when he helped San Francisco reach the NFC championship game. But only three starters from that game are still with the team while the team’s record has declined in three straight seasons.
No 49ers were voted to the Pro Bowl this season. And if they don’t beat the heavily favored Seahawks in the season finale, they’ll finish tied for the worst record in team history at 2-14.
Kelly said he anticipates discussing his future with 49ers CEO Jed York after the season. York, in an informal gathering with reporters Thursday, said he plans to speak publicly next week to address the future of the franchise.
Kelly’s worst season prior to 2016 came last year with the Eagles, when he was fired before the final game after going 6-9. He said the losing hasn’t made this season particularly challenging because of the players he works with.
“Challenging? No. I don’t look at it that way,” Kelly said. “I look at, it’s what you get to work with and I’m actually grateful for this group of guys we get to work with because of their attitudes and how they’ve approached it every single day.
“So, challenging is if maybe guys don’t buy in or guys are doing things that are detrimental to the team and that hasn’t happened here at all. This has been a great group to work with.”
NOTES: Andrew Tiller and Marcus Martin missed practice Thursday after being limited participants earlier in the week, leaving a potential void at left guard. If neither can play, the 49ers would likely start Alex Balducci or Andrew Gardner.
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