Saturday, March 27, 2010

The McCloughan Mystery

The mystery that is Scot McCloughan's departure from the San Francisco 49ers is one that has baffled the Bay Area sports community.

How can an accomplished General Manager leave a team with a month left before the NFL Draft, the one thing that a GM has prepared for since last season ended, and probably before?

It all seems pretty fishy to me. Was he fired? Is this a leave of absense? One thing is for sure, his office in Santa Clara is cleared out with no sign of him returning.

But what happened? We don't know, and we may never know. The way the story was just sprung upon the public so abrupty, I doubt if we ever hear the real reason for the 49ers and him parting ways.

The ordeal must have been huge in order to cause the split of someone as accomplished in the 49ers organization as McCloughan was. He was trusted by the 49ers and had come on several radio programs the previous week talking about his mindset going into the NFL Draft. It seemed like this one blind-sided everyone.

A speculation broke yesterday that could possibly give us insight into why the two sides split. There was the rumor of McCloughan having a drinking problem. Word is, he showed up drunk to several team meetings and organized events, which caused embarrassment to the organization. And the two sides decided to mutually split ways.

Again, this is just speculation, but it seems reasonable. McCloughan has an extremely tough job, as do all General Managers of sports teams. He must bring good players to the 49ers, and draft good players in the NFL Draft. And if he doesn't, he is criticized. Extremely stressful, I would say.

But whatever the issue is, it is personal. Personal to McCloughan, and personal to the 49ers, and probably something that will not be a topic of conversation at any time forward.

For now, meet your new man in charge of the 2010 NFL Draft for the 49ers. His name is Trent Baalke and he has been friends with McCloughan for 15 years. Some are calling him a McClone, and for 49er fans that's as good of news as you can get. McCloughan had a pretty good track record for drafting players, and if that carries over to Baalke, who has worked hand-in-hand with McCloughan over the years, we should see no difference.

But people will still want to know about McCloughan and what happened. The 49ers are going to keep this one close to the vest. And if it is something as serious as a drinking problem, the 49ers and McCloughan should be given that space.

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