COMMENTARY | Among the many coaches, players and staff associated with the San Francisco 49ers over the last losing decade, many are gone and forgotten after two straight appearances in the NFC Championship and a Super Bowl XLVII berth.
The change of direction for the organization came two seasons ago, when Trent Baalke was named general manager of the team and Jim Harbaugh was hired as head coach. However, Tom Gamble was with the 49ers through the ups and downs, as well, mostly through year after year of losing in San Francisco.
His eight-year stint with the 49ers came to a close on Wednesday when he was hired as the Philadelphia Eagles' vice president of player personnel, a position he held with the 49ers in 2010.
Everything changed in the 49ers' organization in 2011, though. Along with the promotion of Baalke and hiring of Harbaugh, Gamble was promoted to director of player personnel, a position he would thrive in - arguably one of the biggest reasons for the 49ers' success ever since.
Gamble is a known evaluator with an eye for talent, as Eagles general manager Howie Roseman mentioned in a statement Wednesday.
"He's not only a talented evaluator, but also a good man and the type of person you want as a part of your team. Tom and I have had a great relationship over the years and I know he's excited to come home. He had a great run in San Francisco and they have been very successful over the last few years. He will jump right in with our group and get working on free agency and the draft."
It is no coincidence that the 49ers' success that originated in 2011 came with Baalke at the helm and Gamble by his side. The 2011 NFL draft brought the 49ers Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Chris Culliver, Kendall Hunter and Bruce Miller, all current roster players that played large roles in achieving an NFC Championship in 2012. Smith was a relatively unknown wildcard pick who is now one of the leading sack men in the NFL, and Kaepernick is the present and future of the 49ers at quarterback.
Gamble and Baalke's partnership played out even further in the 2010 draft when the 49ers drafted Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati, the two cornerstones of the team's current offensive line that has become so dominant in the past year. NaVorro Bowman was also drafted in the third round in 2010 and is now one of the premiere linebackers in the NFL.
It has been a partnership for Baalke and Gamble for the past two seasons that has reaped several rewards for the team and now has the 49ers organization back on top in the NFL.
For Gamble, his hire in Philadelphia is a chance for an opportunity. Baalke is set to be with the 49ers organization for many years to come, as they continue to build success in San Francisco. Gamble is presumed to be looking for a general manager position sometime in the near future, and a better opportunity to achieve that dream is in Philadelphia. It also happens to be with the team that Gamble got his start with in 1988, as an assistant in the Eagles' personnel department.
Philadelphia has landed one of the biggest up-and-comers in evaluating player personnel in the NFL, but Gamble's time in San Francisco will not be forgotten-not as long as the players he had a hand in drafting continue to achieve success on the sport's biggest stage.
Scott Semmler is a senior at San Jose State University fortunate enough to have covered nearly every Bay Area professional sports team, including the San Francisco Giants' 2012 World Series title. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSemmler22.