Story courtesy of Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
It will be a homecoming of sorts this Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers travel to Mall of America Field to take on the Minnesota Vikings. Looking on will be the 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. Baalke knows the setting all too well as he played in three NSIC Metrodome Classics during his career at Bemidji State University (BSU) in the early 80’s.
The Rosendale, Wis. native attended BSU from 1982-86 and played a variety of positions for the Beaver football team during that time. The two-time All-Northern Intercollegiate Conference (NIC) selection piled up 67 solo tackles and assisted on 102 stops for a career total of 169 tackles.
The seasoned football professional now oversees an NFL franchise as general manager (GM) of the San Francisco 49ers, a position he assumed in January of 2011. Yet, he still counts his years at BSU among his proudest career moments.
“Getting that first victory at Bemidji after an extended losing streak, that was number one. I still remember the last four plays of that game, so obviously that has stayed with me,” Baalke says, recounting highlights of his collegiate career.
Baalke, who graduated with a double major in health and physical education, hasn’t lost his drive for success. Since his first season with BSU, he has made a career of ushering football programs into the winner’s circle.
After helping turn around the BSU football program, Baalke went on to earn a master’s degree in secondary education and sports administration at North Dakota State University. He also gained valuable coaching experience as a graduate assistant with the Bison, who finished 14-0 and won a national championship during his time in Fargo, N.D.
While GM was a new position for Baalke, 2012 marked his 15th season with the NFL. He started as a scout with the New York Jets in 1998 and later served as college scouting coordinator for the Washington Redskins. He joined the 49ers in 2005 as western regional scout, advancing through the ranks to eventually become vice president of player personnel and then GM.
After one year on the job as the 49ers GM, Baalke was named NFL Executive of the Year by Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers of America, and subsequently rewarded with a contract extension that keeps him with the team through the 2016 season.
Baalke certainly remembers such attributes from his days as a Beaver player. “One thing that stands out about the team in that era is how much the guys loved to play the game of football,” he says. “It’s a great university, and just another sign you can be successful regardless of what university you go to. I know this: I would not be where I’m at today had I not taken that path early in life.”
Quotes and portions from this article courtesy of the BSU Horizons Alumni Magazine Spring / Summer 2011