Quietly, Baalke turns 49ers into playoff contender

By Janie Mccauley

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 5 2012 3:59 p.m. MST

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Perhaps the most personal thing Trent Baalke has shared about his life is that he regularly runs to the top of a mountain in nearby Fremont.

The San Francisco 49ers general manager cherishes his role behind the scenes. Jim Harbaugh can be the face of the franchise as far as he's concerned.

Within days of being promoted last year, Baalke faced the daunting task of landing Harbaugh as the team's new coach.

People were losing patience with all the losing — and demanded an immediate turnaround after an eight-year playoff drought.

Amid speculation that Harbaugh might leave Stanford for the Miami Dolphins or even his alma mater, Michigan, Baalke delivered the Niners' high-profile new man. It brought Baalke some instant credibility, along with other spot-on moves.

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