49ers reconstruction goes beyond front office

February 11, 2012, 5:52 pm
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Centennial Boulevard in Santa Clara, where the 49ers' offices and practice facility are located, is a hard-hat zone.Heavy equipment lines the cul de sac with site preparation underway for the construction of the 49ers' stadium, on which Santa Clara officials expect to break ground this spring and open in time for the 2014 season.And there is plenty of action within the team offices, too.
The 49ers on Friday announced general manager Trent Baalke, on the job for an ultra-successful 13 months, signed a three-year contract extension through 2016.NEWS: 49ers extend Baalke's deal
And Jed York, team president and CEO, announced he is no longer the team president. That title now belongs to Gideon Yu, who a week earlier officially became a minority owner of the team.Yu was formerly chief financial officer of both Facebook and YouTube. He has also worked at such companies as Yahoo!, Disney and Hilton. He will run the business side of the 49ers.Yu's contacts in the tech community are expected to help the 49ers fulfill their vision for the new stadium -- what they hope becomes the epicenter of the nebulous Silicon Valley.The 49ers plan for the stadium, which will bump up against their current team offices, to take on a particular high-tech feel. And they are working to establish relationships in the community that will help them pay off loans for the 1.02 billion stadium through revenue generated by sponsorships and stadium naming rights, along with sales from tickets and suites.Yu and Baalke will be in charge of their respective departments. Yu will handle the business side, while Baalke will continue to oversee football operations. Both Yu and Baalke will report to York.The extension for Baalke comes a little more than one year into his initial three-year contract, which he signed Jan. 4, 2011. Baalke spent 2010 as vice president of player personnel.Baalke and former coach Mike Singletary did not have "great chemistry," as York explained it. Singletary told CSNBayArea.com last year that he agreed with York, saying he never meshed with Baalke.Perhaps Baalke's best move in his current role came before he even had his current role. He spent time at Stanford and got to know Jim Harbaugh. When Baalke was officially named general manager, over finalist Michael Lombardi, the 49ers acted quickly to secure the hiring of Harbaugh."It gives me great pleasure to watch Trent and Jim work arm-in-arm with the common goal of leading the 49ers to championships," York said, in announcing Baalke's extension.With a rushed free-agent signing period and no offseason workouts, the 49ers still managed to turn around a team that went 5-10 under Singletary (6-10 overall) into a 14-game winner and an overtime loss away from playing in the Super Bowl.Under Baalke's direction, the 49ers added key components, such as Aldon Smith, Chris Culliver, Kendall Hunter and Bruce Miller through the draft, as well as free-agent pickups Carlos Rogers, Jonathan Goodwin, Donte Whitner and David Akers. The 49ers also re-signed Ray McDonald and Dashon Goldson.The remodeling of the team has mostly erased the memory of a team that underachieved in 2010. And the construction around the building has eliminated a man-made landmark from the recent, forgettable era, as well.Mt. Singletary, the peak that stood 45 feet above the practice fields that was built in 2009 under Singletary's direction for conditioning and rehab purposes, has been unceremoniously leveled.The hill, which angled up at 45 degrees, was used for nothing more than a spot for security guards to station themselves during workouts that were open to the general public last summer.The eyesore was deemed unnecessary. And it's elimination is just another step in the reconstruction of the 49ers.

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