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As expected, 49ers promote Baalke to general manager

The San Francisco 49ers made one expected announcement Tuesday night. Is another coming later this week?

The 49ers on Tuesday night announced they have promoted Trent Baalke, who has been their vice president of player personnel, to general manager, an appointment expected for almost a week.

Now he will lead the search for a new head coach.

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"Trent has done an exceptional job in his role as vice president of player personnel and throughout his tenure with the 49ers," owner Jed York said in a team-issued statement. "I have had the benefit of watching Trent closely in the recent months and have been very impressed with his knowledge and leadership. I am confident that Trent will find the 49ers an excellent head coach who will lead us to great success in the coming years."

Baalke and York are focused on landing Stanford University's Jim Harbaugh as their head coach, according to multiple sources, and are willing to spend significantly to do so. According to one team source, the 49ers expect to have a head coach in place by Friday.

Harbaugh is seeking a deal in the range of what Pete Carroll received from the Seattle Seahawks (averaging more than $6 million a season), according to a league source. One source close to Harbaugh projected the 49ers as the favorites to obtain his services after talks with his alma mater, Michigan, collapsing. The Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos also have been in contact with Harbaugh.

The 49ers on Tuesday received permission to interview Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, and they have asked for permission to talk to New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. They aim to begin those interviews as soon as possible; either would fulfill the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview a minority candidate before appointing a head coach.

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported that the 49ers and Jackson were scheduled to have a formal interview Wednesday morning.

"Al (Davis, the Raiders' owner) is happy for Hue," Raiders senior executive John Herrera said. "He would never stop Hue Jackson from an opportunity to coach. He believes in diversity."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Jackson will become Oakland's head coach -- the Raiders announced Tuesday that they will not pick up the option in head coach Tom Cable's contract -- but Raiders senior executive John Herrera said the team has not yet talked to any candidates.

If the 49ers are unable to land Harbaugh, former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick (an NFL analyst for NFL Network and Fox), Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey (a former Buffalo Bills head coach) and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (a former Detroit Lions head coach) could be options.

Baalke has been operating as the 49ers' general manager since head coach Mike Singletary's dismissal last week, even conducting exit interviews with coaches Tuesday.

"I would like to thank Jed York and the York family for this tremendous opportunity," Baalke, whom York interviewed extensively Saturday, said in a statement. "It is an honor to be named the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, a franchise with a history filled by some of the game's greatest players, coaches and executives. I look at this role as one of great responsibility -- to not only the history of the franchise, but also to the 49ers faithful. My entire focus is now dedicated to finding the next head coach of the 49ers."

NFL Network insider Michael Lombardi, who headed the Oakland Raiders’ and Cleveland Browns’ personnel departments and worked with the 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos, interviewed for the position Tuesday. Lombardi served as a scout for the 49ers during the Bill Walsh era.

York insisted last week he would conduct a national search for the GM position but ultimately decided to promote from within. The 49ers had been without a general manager since Scot McCloughan's abrupt departure last March in what York called a "mutual parting."

Baalke was the 49ers' director of player personnel in 2008-09, overseeing the college and pro personnel departments. He first joined the franchise in 2005 as Western Region scout, a position he held through 2007.

Baalke orchestrated the contract extensions of two key 49ers this season: four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis and star tight end Vernon Davis. Those are two significant moves since Baalke took over football operations after McCloughan left, along with leading the team's 2010 draft.


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In May, Willis received a $50 million, five-year contract extension that takes him through the 2016 season and includes $29 million in guaranteed money. He earns $10 million per season. Davis was rewarded with a five-year deal paying him $37 million overall, with $34 million guaranteed.

Baalke also drafted starting offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati with the 11th and 17th overall picks, respectively, in April.

His other 2010 draft picks also played significant roles as rookies.

Baalke also worked four years in the scouting department for the Washington Redskins prior to coming to San Francisco and has college coaching experience.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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