Why the 49ers promoted Trent Baalke

The 49ers announced a few moves Thursday that pretty much affirm their commitment to stay the course through at least the 2010 season.

Trent Baalke becomes vice president of player personnel after serving as director of player personnel for two seasons under general manager Scot McCloughan. Baalke had taken over most of McCloughan's duties after McCloughan left the organization in March. The 49ers said Baalke will "oversee all aspects of player personnel, including the draft, free agency, trades and re-signings" while continuing to manage the college and pro scouting departments.

Pro personnel director Tom Gamble takes on additional duties on the college side. Joel Patten, a former Redskins scout who spent 2009 as a regional scout for the Rams becomes college scouting director, as previously reported. Matt Malaspina becomes national scout. The team has hired Bob Morris, formerly of the Browns, to scout the south region, with scout Justin Chabot moving from south to southeast.

These moves allow the 49ers to maintain continuity at a critical time. The team can reevaluate after the 2010 season. Hiring new leadership from the outside right now would potentially undermine coach Mike Singletary, his staff and quarterback Alex Smith. That would have served no one in the short term, and the short term is what matters most after the 49ers improved to 8-8 last season. This team appears in position to make a strong run for the NFC West title and automatic playoff berth.

Retaining Baalke was pretty much a given unless he faltered badly during the draft or subsequently. The team appears to have stayed the course with Baalke, so there was no obvious need to make changes.