San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke made his regular weekly radio appearance following the 49ers 13-10 loss to the St. Louis Rams. You can listen HERE, or check out the transcript down below. Baalke got several questions about the play-calling and the lack of Frank Gore in certain situations. It was an interesting give and take.
It was a rough week, how you doing?
Trent Baalke: Well, you said it. It was a rough week.
What happened yesterday? I'm really not sure what makes it worse. That it was the Rams, that it was off a bye week, or that it was a home game.
TB: "Let's give the Rams some credit. They may be 3-5 at this stage, but it's still a football team that has some talent on it. It's a well coached football team. They've historically played us well, as they have played Seattle well and played Arizona. This division, you've got to earn those victories."
It's one that was just a real head-scratcher. Because it just seems like you guys are having a week-to-week identity crisis and you don't know what your offense is built to be, what it wants to be, the goal changes week-to-week. What is going on with what Greg Roman is trying to accomplish here?
TB: "First off, let's not put it all on one person. Anytime you're going through the ups and downs of a season, it's easy to just point fingers. The bottom line is, we gotta get better. We gotta get more consistent. Nobody knows that more than us, internally. I can assure you the guys are working hard trying to figure this thing out. Everybody's gotta come together, everybody's gotta be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And that's what we're focused on right now."
I think a real solution to some of your goal-line problems would be just handing the ball to Frank Gore. There's really no coaching through the moment that's a better play than that, right? Just hand the ball to Frank friggin' Gore when you're on the 2-inch line to win a football game. I can't believe he's not involved, almost by design, in goal line packages. Where is Frank Gore in vital moments? He's nothing short of the greatest running back in franchise history.
TB: "Certainly Frank would want the football in those times. I think if you poll the offensive line, they would, too. They want to pound the ball. It's not always as easy as that. Once again, you try to take advantage of what the defenses allow you to have. We made a play down there, unfortunately it was not ruled a touchdown and we'll let that debate rage on. We just didn't make enough plays, as a football team. We didn't make plays when we needed to make plays, and didn't make enough of them. We all realize where we're at. We're 4-4 and you are what your record says you are. We need to get better. We need to eliminate some of the mistakes that we've been making, come together, and work our way through this together."
Is Colin Kaepernick where you thought he would be at this stage in his career?
TB: "I think Colin, once again, has done some awfully good things. You're constantly trying to get better. Every day you go to work, you try to get better. I don't care what your doing. If you're a successful person, you're going every day with the mindset of getting a little bit better. This league, this business has a way of humbling us all. On Sunday, we were humbled. It's now how we're going to respond to it that's going to make the difference."
What specifically do you want to see Colin Kaepernick become better in?
TB: "It's the whole game. It's seeing the field. It's quick decisions. There's times once again, we as an offense do that very well at times, and other times we don't. It's the consistency of the position, consistency of performance, that's what we're looking for with everybody. Getting off the roller coaster of the ups and downs and just playing consistent football. That doesn't always fall on one person's shoulders. In order to be consistent in your own position, the other ten guys have to play with a consistency as well, and we just haven't done that enough this year."
...Goodwin gone, Kilgore gone has really hurt this offensive line. To me, Marcus Martin, just spent all day long showing everyone in the NFL that he was overwhelmed by what he saw in front of him yesterday. And I'm not saying his career is over because of one bad game against the Rams.
TB: "I don't know what film you were watching. I would say that that's a poor assessment."
He had a snap infraction and you guys called a timeout next play?
TB: "OK, so there's 70 other plays in the game. I'm not going to get into a debate with you on the radio. I think to say that he was completely overwhelmed is a false statement. We watched the film and he did an awful lot of good things out there. There are things he needs to improve at. But for a first start in a National Football League game with a shortened preseason due to injury, my hat's off to that young man because he went out there and competed."
I just thought it was odd to run a QB sneak behind a guy who didn't get the snap all the way back to Kaepernick. I mean you got Pro Bowlers up and down this line. And to go behind him in the decisive play at the end of the game based on what my novice eye saw. A lot of pressure right up and through him all afternoon long. I'm just surprised you would lean behind the novice lineman, not Iupati, not Staley, not Boone, not Davis, for the biggest play of the game, which turned out to be the fumble at the goal line.
TB: "What you're doing is narrowing it down to one play. When you talk about a young man and a poor performance, it never comes down to one play. There's things that we have to do better. And everybody...it's been well discussed. Once again, as I said earlier, the only people that can change it are the people in this building. And that's what we plan on doing. We're gonna stick together, we're gonna work our tails off. We're going to go out tomorrow with a purpose, to get better and to get ready for New Orleans. We have to put this one behind us. It's over, done with, and it's time to move on."
And I can appreciate that. Hopefully, as you move on from this week to next, an issue that seems to be an every-present issue gets solved. Why do you think this offense gets confused on first drives of home games, and have to call a timeout on first drives of home games? When it's not a crowd noise issue, and it shouldn't be a communication issue, in the first drive of a home game. But it seems it's just a lot of casually spent timeouts by this coaching staff. Would you agree or disagree?
TB: "It's an area that's been addressed many times. It's certainly an area our guys are working on fixing. and have done a very good job the past few weeks in saving those timeouts, and working the clock and doing better. Unfortunately that first drive, we had to use a timeout. It's certainly not something we planned, but at the same time, it happens. It happens in games, and we gotta get past it. We have to figure out what happened, and we gotta correct it."
As you starting preparing for New Orleans, and the next two games being on the road, kinda east coast starts, 10 a.m. body clocks. Was there any thought of staying in Youngstown between the New Orleans and New York game?
TB: "We've discussed it, and haven't totally ruled it out yet. At the same time, we're gonna get a pulse on this week as we get going, and make a decision as to what's best for this football team."
Why do you think a lot of people are looking at the Niners and say that the team seems to be broken?
TB: "When you're 4-4, there are some things broken. What I mean in that sense, certainly when you're 4-4 you gotta do certain things better. All you can do, and the only thing we know how to fix it, how to correct it, is to go back to work. You can't keep doing the same things over and over, you can't keep making the same mistakes over and over because there's no room for error at this point. You know, we're 4-4, there's a separation between us, and that separation between us and the rest of the division gets bigger with every lapse in our performance. Right now, we're at, our backs are to the wall, and when backs are to the wall, you find out a lot about yourself."
Hopefully all the answers are easy to find before you head down to New Orleans ... I want to ask you about one other running back, really two. Kendall signing an extension today, good for him. Hopefully he gets back and on the field and healthy for you next year. Unfortunately, Marcus Lattimore, who was made as a pick for the future. Well it seems as if that future is not going to happen, and it's a shame. We all know what happened to him at South Carolina, you drafted him with the best of intentions. Tell us where it just didn't come back for Marcus?
TB: "He's still working through his situation and what his options are. That decision's yet to be made. In fairness to him and in fairness everybody, we're going to play this thing out and see exactly where it's going."
He's not officially retired? I saw that today. I thought I saw that he was going to walk away from trying to get back.
TB: "No, that was speculation by someone. Where that information came from, I'm not sure. But no final decision has been made at this point."
OK, well that is much clearer picture than Twitter might have led us to believe earlier. Kendall Hunter. Are you happy to see him with the team long term? I'm guessing there is absolutely no chance he comes back to participate in this season.
TB: "He's been put on IR for this season. There is no chance. But obviously to have him back, he was off to a good start, and looked really good.. Unfortunately for him, his season was cut short by an injury. To give him an opportunity, he's a young man that works awfully hard, is talented. We've seen what can do when healthy for this organization. It only made sense to bring him back. He wanted to be back, and we wanted him back. We were able to get the deal done to make sure that he was going to get another opportunity in 2015.