Whether it be Madden, FIFA or NBA, millions of us gamers across the globe have played the role of rebuilding and improving a sports team.

The aim, of course, is to lead your side to success.

So imagine taking charge of one of the best teams in the league, ripping it apart and turning it into one of the worst within a five-year span.

And then imagine it is no virtual reality and it is your actual real life job.

It’s no wonder then that 91 people raised over $2,250 to fly an angry banner over Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for upcoming San Francisco 49ers home games.

Welcome to the tale of 49ers general manager Trent Baalke.

The Niners suffered their seventh successive loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, even despite a rare impressive offensive display, as the worst run defense ever (surely?) continued to leak yardage from start to finish.

And it’s not without a lack of attention in the draft on the defensive side of the ball, with five first round picks out of six under Baalke’s helm, including two defensive linemen in the last two years.

So how does one man destroy a franchise in such a short space of time?

In March 2010, Baalke succeeded outgoing GM Scot McCloughan, who stepped down due to personal issues.

McCloughan had assembled a Super Bowl contender with picks including Joe Staley, Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree.

His final pieces to the puzzle were ready to be put in place during the 2010 draft and Baalke was the beneficiary.

The 49ers produced a stunning draft class, with pro bowl offensive linemen Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis, along with third round gem NaVorro Bowman.

Three straight NFC Championship games between 2011 and 2013 and a 2012 Super Bowl appearance followed as coach Jim Harbaugh turned the Niners into a force to be reckoned with.

But instead of building a roster capable of long-term success, the 49ers have taken a slide into irrelevance.

Only two of Baalke’s 50 picks as GM between 2011 and 2015 have made the Pro Bowl and just Eric Reid remains on the roster after Aldon Smith’s character concerns forced him off the team last season.

In fact, of his first two draft classes, only Colin Kaepernick and Daniel Kilgore have survived, with the 2012 class a complete write-off.

And 2013 didn’t prove too much more fruitful either.

Eric Reid has been a shadow of the level he set as a rookie, while Vance McDonald and Quinton Patton have proved to be unremarkable additions to the offense so far.

2013 was the beginning of a trend that has become infamously attached to Baalke’s scouting strategy, with the first (and second) ACL picks.

Four drafts on, Tank Carradine, Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Thomas, Keith Reaser, Trey Millard, DeAndre Smelter and Will Redmond have all been drafted by Baalke fresh from ACL tears in college.

And based on his list of picking actually healthy players, it’s no surprise that ‘team ACL’ has just four members left already.

Of that list, Smelter and Redmond have yet to play a regular season snap, while Carradine and Reaser have featured sparingly as career backups.

But all is not lost. If you can’t draft them, at least make the most of free agency, right?


Baalke has made just one splash in free agency since his appointment, that of Torrey Smith, who signed a five year, $40 million contract in 2015.

But as the theme continues, Smith has struggled to make an impact in the same way he did in contributing to a Super Bowl victory for the Baltimore Ravens.

Add to that the fact that the 49ers have more cap space than any other team in the NFL, you’d think they might want to start using some of that at some point, particularly since they won’t be resigning too many of Baalke’s picks if history is anything to go by.

And with another high draft pick in 2017 an inevitability, the fans are now taking matters into their own hands in a bid to remove the failing GM before he can draft yet another set of busts.