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Don't think it's a coincidence.
The two Super Bowl opponents, the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, have the two best front offices in the NFL.
Ozzie Newsome, perhaps the most respected man in football, has led the Baltimore Ravens for a dozen seasons. He has overseen two Super Bowl runs, including the 2000 win, four 12+ win teams, nine playoff berths, the most consistent defense in NFL history over a decade, and only three losing seasons.
Trent Baalke, the 49ers' front office leader, is one of the best scouting minds in the sport. He has utilized San Francisco's numerous high draft picks and strong financial resources to stockpile the most top-notch talent of any team in football. Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, and Joe Staley were all first round picks…and that is just on the offensive line. The 49ers' former No. 1 overall pick, Alex Smith, isn't even playing – because another blue chipper, Colin Kaepernick, took his place.
Oh, and did I forget Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, and Navarro Bowman on the NFL's most fearsome defense?
Certainly, these two front offices have their rivals. The Patriots are also known for consistency and excellence, including recent Super Bowl trips in 2007 and 2011, but have not won the big game since 2004. The Colts were the NFL's most consistent performers under Bill Polian and seem to have successfully engineered a new start around star quarterback Andrew Luck, but they will need to demonstrate consistency in the post-Manning era. The Pittsburgh Steelers are always a model of competence – but seem to be on the verge of a major rebuilding overhaul.
May 23, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke (center) talks with linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) and linebacker Patrick Willis (52) after OTAs at the 49ers practice facility. Photo Courtesy By Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports.
The Ravens vs. 49ers showdown shows the value of consistent front office
performance in the NFL; particularly with regard to the draft. While
other high profile franchises put their faith in high profile free
agency pickups (Albert Haynesworth anyone?) these two franchises have
carefully preserved flexibility. By devoting themselves to scouting
talent and adding frontline players on rookie contracts – with the
occasional savvy acquisition – they have stayed flexible enough to
create a roster built for long-term contention.
Perhaps one day, every franchise's fan base will be so lucky.
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