There has been plenty of discussion about a rift between Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke. One issue occasionally mentioned involved New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. According to some reports, Baalke wanted OBJ, and there was a strong disagreement between Baalke and Harbaugh about getting him. It turns out that might not have been the case (at least not entirely).
Baalke was on 95.7 The Game earlier this evening, and he spoke about that rumor. He said the 49ers inquired about moving up to get Beckham, but it apparently would have cost the team their first, second and third round picks. Hindsight makes that seem like a small price to pay for an impact receiver like OBJ, but obviously hindsight is 20-20. Baalke simply felt at the time that the price was too high.
Fooch's Update: Here is a transcription of that particular question and answer:
Was there ever a specific conversation about whether Odell Beckham should have been drafted? I heard that was a big source of contention between you and Jim Harbaugh. Is there any truth to that, that you care to shed any light on?
I can share a lot of light on that. Wherever you're getting that is 100 percent false. Would we have loved to have had him? I guess after the fact, which is what, hindsight is 20/20, would we have loved to have had him? Yes. Would we have loved to have him on draft day where we were picking? Absolutely. Did we think he was going to get to us, absolutely not. Were we willing to give up what it would have taken to go up and get him. The answer is no. And that's why we didn't make the move. And there was no guarantee that even if we had made that move that we would have been high enough to get him, in terms of what it would have taken from a compensation standpoint. It's always easy to talk about the players you could have had once they've had success in the National Football League. He's a heck of a talent. He was graded as a heck of a talent by our scouts, by our coaches, by all parties.
But what it would have taken to make that move would have cost us our first, our second, and one of our third round picks. And maybe something on top of that. So in essence, you would have been maybe giving up Jimmie Ward, you would have been giving up Marcus Martin or Chris Borland, and you would have been giving up Carlos Hyde, plus somebody else. So you would have given up three young, quality players to go get one. And that was a decision that collectively, we weren't willing to make. And that's a collective decision. That wasn't something that one person was really fighting for, and another was really opposed to. That was a decision that we made. And we knew that in order to get up high enough to get a player of that caliber, it was going to take too much ammunition to get up there, so we chose not to.
The 49ers first three rounds ended up netting them Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Marcus Martin, and Chris Borland, as well as other picks through trades. There is an outside shot all four will play starter-level snaps in 2015. There are no guarantees moving forward, but all four made contributions and will get significant opportunities in 2015.
That being said, the thought of adding OBJ would have been juicy. The 49ers offense had all sorts of issues this season, and part of that had to do with the lack of a truly consistent deep threat. Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson all brought similar skillsets to the table. All could do great things, but they were not the burner type. Brandon Lloyd could go deep, but he was not used all that frequently. And of course, Vernon Davis was Vernon Davis.
It is certainly interesting to consider the possibilities, but I think the more important question surrounds the notion that Baalke spotted a good wide receiver. There have been plenty of questions about whether or not Baalke can scout quality wide receiver talent. Does the fact that he wanted OBJ mean he can scout wide receivers, or is it more along the lines of, "even a blind squirrel can find a nut"?
Trent Baalke has had his share of misses, but he has also hit big at times in the draft, and done some great work finding undervalued options in free agency. I don't think the fact that he wanted to trade for OBJ makes up for drafting A.J. Jenkins, but I do think it makes me feel at least a little more comfortable with him as general manager.