In this McDonaldized world of media in which readers demand the who, what, when, where and why a moment after news breaks, speculation has become rampant as to what impact might be felt on the 49ers plans for the 2010 draft after the news general manager Scot McCloughan is taking a personal leave of absence.
The timing, of course, is odd. The draft is little more than a month away and the 49ers own the 13th and 17th overall picks. For a team with young stars in Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Patrick Willis, and Michael Crabtree, they appear capable of taking the next step and winning the NFL West Division. After all, the Cardinals are clearly weaker considering the loss of Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle. The 49ers are coming off of their most competitive season in years, winning five of their six divisional games (including going 2-0 against Arizona) and finished just outside of the playoffs at 8-8.
McCloughan has a very good eye for talent. His ability to read the board and project which players will rise or slide is acknowledged by other teams throughout the league. He'll be missed in the San Francisco draft room, should it come down to that.
However, he's also surrounded himself with a quality staff. Director of Player Personnel Trent Baalke and director of Player Pro Personnel Tom Gamble are widely respected. Baalke was reportedly an early candidate for the Seattle general manager position.
Scot McCloughan's brother, Dave, is the 49ers' Director of College Scouting. He didn't earn this position with his last name. He was a standout safety drafted out of Colorado who spent time with the Seahawks, Packers and Colts before joining his father, Kent McCloughan, as a scout with the Raiders.
While the perception is that draft boards are fluctuating every day with the improved workouts players are putting forth in Pro Days across the country, in reality, much of the hard work in preparing for the 2010 draft has already been done.
Whether he's the one actually making the pick or not, the 49ers 2010 draft will have Scot McCloughan's fingerprints on it.
Considering that the 49ers appear poised to take control of the NFC West -- largely based on players McCloughan drafted -- that's a good thing.