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Baalke on 49ers' struggles: 'Strictly on my shoulders'


Niners general manager Trent Baalke was quick to shoulder the blame.

Before the team lost by a touchdown to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, dropping them to 1-10 on the season, Baalke told KNBR-AM in San Francisco earlier this week that the on-field product was his fault.

"It falls strictly on my shoulders," he said in an interview transcribed by the Mercury News.

He went on: "I don't know if you do keep yourself up, or positive. I think you are drained. It's a draining experience. I feel bad for the fans, I feel bad for a lot of people, the ownership in particular. You know, they give us everything we need and I've said that. I've gone public with that. If we don't get it done, put it on me."

Perhaps this is evidence of a long season simply wearing on a person. Maybe it's just evidence that Baalke knows what fans want to hear -- some general managers have perfected the song and dance by now.

But if he is taking all the blame for this miserable season in San Francisco, does that mean coach Chip Kelly will return next year? With Oregon firing coach Mark Helfrich on Tuesday, so began the latest churn of the Kelly-back-to-college rumor mill. Though he's denied it many times, there will be some talking heads unable to digest the fact that he enjoys the NFL lifestyle far more. At Oregon, he would have to go back to (or do his best version of) glad-handing with boosters and recruiting -- all the exhaustive efforts that are not required of coaches in the NFL.

Of course, his opinion could change if San Francisco decides to move on.

Kelly represents one of the bigger mysteries of the 2016 coaching carousel -- not necessarily because of the Oregon opening, but because the 49ers could very well finish the season with one win. Baalke stepping forward and taking the blame should be an acknowledgement that a coach cannot expect to succeed with a roster like this. After all, the offense's most dynamic weapons this year have been Carlos Hyde and Jeremy Kerley. But will that blame end up getting spread around?


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