49ers GM Baalke: 'Difficult time to lose' Gamble to Eagles

49ers GM Baalke: 'Difficult time to lose' Gamble to Eagles
February 21, 2013, 11:30 am
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Trent Baalke, general manager of the Super Bowl runner-up 49ers, has an astronomically high 14 picks in April’s draft.

That’s an excellent advantage.

But Baalke just lost one of his most influential voices in the war room when he allowed Tom Gamble to leave for the Eagles smack in the middle of draft preparation season.

That’s a disadvantage.

Baalke on Thursday admitted that the timing of Gamble’s departure isn’t ideal for the Niners and spoke candidly about the challenge of losing his director of player personnel to the Eagles, who last week named Gamble their new vice president of player personnel.

“There’s a lot that went into that decision,” Baalke said from a podium at Lucas Oil Stadium, host site of the annual NFL Scouting Combine. “Tom and I have been friends for a long time and have worked together for an awful long time. It was a chance for him to get home.

“It certainly is a difficult time to lose somebody, especially of Tom’s caliber, but at the same time sometimes in life you’ve got make those decisions and you’ve got to let people go home.”

Gamble grew up in Haddonfield, N.J., and his father, Harry, was the Eagles’ president during the Buddy Ryan era. Gamble’s 25-year NFL career started with the Eagles in 1988 as an assistant in the personnel department.

Gamble, who joined the Niners’ front office in 2005 as director of pro personnel, was heavily involved in the team’s past three drafts. In that time, San Francisco plucked Colin Kaepernick, Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati, Pro Bowl linebacker Navorro Bowman and Pro Bowl defensive end Aldon Smith.

His reputation for having an outstanding eye for college talent is one reason Eagles general manager Howie Roseman first tried to hire Gamble last year after Ryan Grigson left to become the Colts’ general manager.

“It was something that [Gamble] and I had talked about for over a year. It had [come] up again,” Baalke said. “ Through those discussions we were able to allow that to happen. Tough timing? Obviously. But I think that both sides feel good that the decision is made.”

What will Baalke miss without Gamble?

“You miss an awfully loyal, awfully qualified individual that helps you set your board, helps you through free agency and the like,” he said, “but at the same time it’s never one person. It’s not me. It’s not Tom. Just like we say with players it’s, ‘Next man up. Let’s go.’”

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