49ers general manager Trent Baalke took some time yesterday and today to chat with the media about the 49ers first three rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft. Although Jim Harbaugh has been the focus leading up to this draft, Trent Baalke has plenty riding on the results of the draft as well. Scot McCloughan was shown the door (or resigned or whatever) a few weeks before the draft, so the 49ers big board was likely pretty close to finished. There were probably some changes, but the general framework was likely in some sort of shape.
Now, Trent Baalke is the man in charge and there are no questions this is his draft board. Jim Harbaugh has plenty of say about the quarterback position, but otherwise Trent Baalke is the big man on campus in this situation. A weak return from this draft will reflect poorly on Baalke. That's not exactly shocking news, but it's still worth a reminder every so often.
General Manager Trent Baalke
Press Conference - April 29, 2011
San Francisco 49ers
"No, that wasn't a factor at all. Our board was set, the value of the players was set and we were monitoring the quarterback situation throughout the draft so that didn't have any impact on what we did."
On whether the 49ers contemplated trading up to get Kaepernick at the end of the first round yesterday:
"We contemplated it, yeah."
On why they didn't pull the trigger on that move:
"We just, at the time, couldn't find the suitor."
On whether the 49ers heard rumors that the Raiders were going to trade up to get Kaepernick as well:
"We heard the same thing but, once again, if they were going up, like I said, there was not a chance for us to move up at that time so we would have been stuck where we were picking."
On whether the 49ers will draft another quarterback into the quarterback competition, or whether coach Harbaugh will have to make a decision between Kaepernick and Alex Smith, assuming Smith resigns:
"We're going to continue to do what our game plan was to bring in the best three quarterbacks possible for our roster. So whether we're done adding to it, through the draft, through free agency, through trades, that remains to be seen. It's still a fluid situation."
On what he thought about the March 18th workout in Reno with Harbaugh and Kaepernick:
"Well I was the pass rusher. I was the designated pass rusher, you ought to see it on film, I think I could still do it. But I thought it was an excellent workout in a lot of different ways. I thought Colin obviously carried himself very well, handled all of the drills that coach had put him through and coach, it was a thorough evaluation. Coach put him through a lot of drills and asked him to change some things in his footwork and in some other areas just to see how he took to coaching and he was able to make those changes very quickly. As we all know, it like the golf swing, when coach mentioned it up there (on the podium), guys swing, there's a lot of ways to hit a golf ball, there's a lot of ways to throw a football and everyone's unique. You can go through history and see that."
On whether the 49ers grade of Kaepernick went up after that workout:
"I think we, we felt good about Colin off of tape, we felt good about him in the interview process, and we certainly felt good about him in the individual workout, so it was a work in progress as it is for all of these guys at every position. You have a starting point and then you work it from there and the starting point starts with the scouts that go in there in the fall and do the evaluation during the fall and that's followed up by a national scout that goes in over the top and then followed up by myself who overlooks obviously all the players that end up on our draft board."
On what stood out about the 49ers' third-round draft pick CB Chris Culliver:
"Well Chris, obviously with Chris, he's a 31-game starter, started 31-of-32 games in the SEC over the last three years, he's a six-foot-plus corner that runs in the low 4.3's (40-yard dash), he has been versatile, has played in the nickel, has played on the perimeter, has played out at safety, and he's also be a solid kickoff returner at the SEC level. So there's a lot of value there and another guy that you throw into the mix. And like coach said, we're trying to put together the most competitive roster we can and then it's up to those guys to get out there and earn the position."
On whether it will be a transition for Culliver, given that he has only played seven games at cornerback:
"Well I think coach mentioned it earlier too, for all of these guys that are learning new positions and whether they played the position at the college level or whether they didn't, when they come up to the National Football League there's a learning curve, so in some ways it can be beneficial because he doesn't have maybe as many bad habits as he might have. So, the versatility is something we look for in players; how many positions can they play, can they help you on special teams? And he's obviously proven at a high level that he can compete. Now does improvement have to take place? You bet it does, but it has to for all of these players."