Jags hire ex-49ers exec Baalke as GM, removing interim tag

UNDATED (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars hired Trent Baalke as general manager Thursday, removing the interim tag from his title and pairing him with new coach Urban Meyer.

Team owner Shad Khan is switching to a coach-centric model in which Meyer and Baalke will both report to him. But Meyer is expected to have final say over the roster and most everything else.

Baalke served as Jacksonville’s director of pro personnel in 2020, returning to a front-office role for the first time since San Francisco fired him and coach Chip Kelly following the 2016 season. Baalke spent a dozen years with the 49ers, half as GM. He hired Jim Harbaugh, who led the Niners to the NFC title game in each of his first three seasons and lost Super Bowl 47. Baalke also drafted quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second round in 2011.

Before moving to Jacksonville, Baalke spent three years working as an operations consultant for the NFL.

Khan, the league’s only minority owner, interviewed five minority candidates and Baalke for the team’s open GM job. He met with former Houston executive Rick Smith, current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, former New York Giants GM Jerry Reese, former Cleveland GM Ray Farmer and New Orleans executive Terry Fontenot. Fontenot was named Atlanta’s GM on Monday.

Jacksonville had one of the league’s most attractive coach/GM openings. The Jaguars have 11 picks in the 2021 draft, including four in the top 45, and are nearly $100 million under the projected salary cap.