SANTA CLARA –- General manager Trent Baalke said it was his idea to promote Tom Gamble to assistant general manager, while being fully aware of the kind of conversation it might spark.
“I don’t live in a cave,” Baalke said on Sunday. "I think I understood exactly what was going to happen. And that should show you even more that I don't care."
The promotion of Gamble, who was one of Chip Kelly's only supporters within the Eagles organization, vouched for Kelly before the 49ers hired him in January. Gamble's new role immediately began speculation that Gamble was being moved into position to take over for Baalke, who could come under more fire this season if the 49ers struggle.
Baalke said the move in the works to promote Gamble in 2013 before he left to accept the role of vice president of player personnel with the Philadelphia Eagles. Upon Gamble’s return to the organization last year, it was a continuation of discussion of a promotion that started before his two-year detour.
Is Baalke on the hot seat?
This season might provide better clues about the future of Baalke with the organization with bigger contributions expected from some of the recent draft classes.
“I think there will be more clarity to it,” Baalke said. “Let’s face it, you got to develop players. You have to draft well and you have to develop well, and it takes both sides. It works in unison.
“This is developmental league in a lot of aspects. These guys are coming into the league younger than ever, less experienced than ever with less time on task than ever because of the ways the rules at the collegiate level are set up.”
The 49ers are relying heavily on their young players this season after an offseason in which few dollars were spent to lure free agents to the club. Guard Zane Beadles is the only veteran NFL player added who is projected as a starter.
Yet, the 49ers are $49.4 million under the salary cap, according to NFLPA figures. But Baalke said there is a plan in place to spend the money in the future years.
“You got to look at what’s coming in front of us, in terms of the number of young guys we have that are coming into that third year of their deal that we think are pretty darn good football players that we’re going to have to extend,” he said.
NFL teams are allowed to carry over cap space from one year to the next. Baalke promised that the 49ers will carry over the full amount.
“Absolutely,” Baalke said. “We’re not going to just put it in the pocket. We’re going to spend the money. The money is going to get spent. And if you look at the way we try to do things. We’re not trying to just keep the money. We want to win. But spending the most amount of money doesn’t guarantee the opportunity to win. You can’t buy a championship.”
Among the players who could be in line for extensions in the next year are Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward and Carlos Hyde. The performances this season of such players as Vance McDonald, Tank Carradine, Quinton Patton, Bruce Ellington, Aaron Lynch, Kenneth Acker, Dontae Johnson and Keith Reaser could also put them in line for new contracts.
Baalke was asked about how the organization and CEO Jed York feel about where the club is heading.
“We feel very good about the direction,” Baalke said. “I don’t know that he (York) would tell you any different, but I’m not going to speak for him.”
The 49ers opted not to pursue a new contract for receiver Anquan Boldin, who was the team’s leading pass-catcher each of the past three seasons. Boldin signed recently with the Detroit Lions.
“I think we feel good about the players we have and I think the thinking was it was time to go in a different direction,” Baalke said. “As much as we’re going to miss him, we feel good about the guys in that room right now on the depth chart. “