Niners interview VP of player personnel Baalke for GM job

SAN FRANCISCO -- Niners vice president of player personnel Trent Baalke interviewed Saturday with president Jed York for the team's general manager vacancy.

Baalke said the two met for about two hours at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara. Baalke, with six years in the franchise, is largely considered the front-runner for the job -- and he sure sounds confident about his chances. Baalke had an informal conversation with reporters on the field at Candlestick Park before the team's season finale Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

York insisted last week that he would conduct a national search for the position, but he appears ready to promote from within his own ranks. The 49ers have been without a GM since Scot McCloughan's abrupt departure last March in what York called a "mutual parting."

An announcement could come as soon as Monday, one day before Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh becomes available following the Cardinal's Orange Bowl game Monday night in Miami against Virginia Tech. Harbaugh is one of the coaches the 49ers will target to replace Mike Singletary, fired late last Sunday after San Francisco's 25-17 loss at St. Louis eliminated the team from playoff contention.

Baalke spent time before kickoff Sunday shaking hands with several fans in the stands.

The 49ers, coached by interim Jim Tomsula on Sunday after he was promoted from defensive line coach, has missed the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season.

York said the new GM will have sole choice on whom he hires as the new coach.

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.

In May, Willis received a five-year, $50 million 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 selected rookie starting offensive linemen Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati with the 11th and 17th overall picks, respectively, in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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