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New GM Trent Baalke on Jaguars leadership: "We share a vision…"

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JACKSONVILLE – Trent Baalke didn't know if this day would happen.

On the day that it did, on the day Baalke officially became the Jaguars' general manager, he and the team's other key decision-makers left no doubt:

This is a team, and the leaders are aligned as such.

"You're always looking for the right fit," said Baalke, who was officially named the Jaguars' general manager Thursday morning. "I've been in this business for a long time, and think the fit is the critical aspect. It's something that has to be there for you to have any success.

"I know this: We share a vision here between ownership, between the head coach and myself. We're very focused. I'm glad to be a part of it."

Baalke, the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2016, joined the Jaguars as director of player personnel last February – and he served as the Jaguars' interim general manager following the November 29 dismissal of former Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell.

Jaguars Owner Shad Khan on Thursday called Baalke the "right man to work directly with our head coach, Urban Meyer, and our mission – to win in Jacksonville."

Khan called the current offseason, the hiring of Meyer last week and Thursday's hiring of Baalke, "a defining moment for the franchise." 

Baalke called the opportunity "a blessing."

"I know there's a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done, but I'm also extremely confident that we can build an organization together that the city of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville faithful will be proud of for years to come," he said.

Baalke spoke on a videoconference Thursday afternoon along with Khan and Meyer. The group spoke of multiple topics, but the overriding theme was clearly that the organization – and the working relationship between Meyer and Baalke – focused mostly on one concept.

"Alignment is going to be a big word, that I know our owner – Shad – is going to use and Trent and myself," Meyer said. "It's going to be a partnership and we're going to be aligned."

Balke said, "It's a partnership. If you're not aligned and you don't think the same and you don't have the same vision – regardless of whether you've been here or not been here – you're going to run into problems. The thing I'm very confident in is Coach Meyer and the vision he brings to this organization – as well as ownership. 

"I think the results will speak for themselves, but we have a lot of work ahead of us."

Khan on Thursday declined to specify contract length for Meyer or Baalke, but said the two are aligned contractually."

"It's a long time," Khan said.

Meyer, who coached Florida and Ohio State to three national titles, spent 17 seasons as a college coach at those two schools, Utah and Bowling Green. He never has coached in the NFL, and was asked Thursday about the importance of Baalke's NFL experience.

"I think the answer's very obvious," Meyer said, "but the chance of success just doesn't exist unless you have a partner that's completely aligned. Just no chance. I don't want to equate college to pro because it is a lot different. But I've always looked at a partnership with [Ohio State athletic director] Gene Smith, with [former Florida athletic director] Jeremy Foley … 

"It's obviously much different issues you've got to deal with, but I've been lucky. I've never had an alignment issue in my coaching career and I don't see that happening here." 

Meyer said Baalke's hiring was more about the future than Baalke's year with the Jaguars or his knowledge of the current roster.

"I looked at as we move forward," Meyer said. "I've been very fortunate in my entire head-coaching career: I've always looked at everything I've done as a partnership – whether it be athletics directors or whether it be just people we work with."

Baalke worked with the 49ers from 2005-2016, then spent 2017-2019 as a football operations consultant with the NFL. He has 20 years of experience in NFL front offices and/or scouting, having worked with the New York Jets and Washington Football Team as a scout before joining the 49ers.

Baalke on Thursday said he didn't know if he would be a general manager again after leaving the 49ers, adding that "not many people get a second chance."

"You learn at every stop," Baalke said. "You learn more from the mistakes you make over your career than you do the positive things. I've learned a lot. I've learned about dealing and working with coaches, a lot about dealing and working with players, a lot about team-building and what it takes.

"I think life's a journey. I think learning's a journey. I think every day you wake up, if you're not waking up with the mentality that you're going to learn something, you're missing something.

"I'm just looking forward to where we're currently at and where I know we can go."

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