The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up a busy first day of the draft with general manager Trent Baalke meeting with the media. He got a chance to discuss the two picks, and naturally is excited about both. He felt the team's draft board held up pretty well, even amidst the surprises.
Baalke discussed the Buckner pick and what he can do. One thing they like about Buckner is they view him as a guy who can come in a play some significant snap totals. It remains to be seen what kind of work he'll get as a rookie, but he can handle a sizable workload.
Baalke also got into some details about why the team moved up for Garnett. He did not get super specific, but clearly the team liked Joshua Garnett, and viewed him as a quality value even with the move up. Someone hinted at the idea of the Seattle Seahawks potentially landing him. He seemed to acknowledge it a little bit, but obviously did not go into too much details.
One thing they did like about Garnett was that even after doing his Pro Day at Stanford, he still came and did the full workout at the 49ers local Pro Day. It sounds like that was something that might have influenced the pick, at least a little bit.
Take us through the first pick. Why DL DeForest Buckner?
"Why not? You know. I mean, what's there not to like? An awfully good football player, excellent fit, high-character guy. Great working knowledge of him, simply our current coaches recruited him, know him well and know his family well. A guy that plays a high percentage of downs at the collegiate level. You look at most of these guys coming out, D-Linemen, they play fifty, sixty percent of the snaps. DeForest the last two years has played plus-eighty. And production, a lot of production, 81 tackles, 36 unassisted, nine sacks. There's a lot to like."
Is he a guy you see playing in the base defense as a rookie or just sub-packages only, like DL Arik Armstead last year?
"Well [Santa Rosa Press Democrat columnist] Grant [Cohn], I've always said this, that's for the coaches to decide. We had great value on him, felt that he was a strong fit for what we want to do. And at that point in the draft with what was on the board, that was the highest valued player and we'll let the coaches go to work with him. He's got to come in and earn it, we've always said that. There's no free tickets. These guys, just because they're picked high in any round, that doesn't give them a free pass. The guys in that locker room got jobs that they want as well. So, he'll come in. We're confident in his abilities. We're confident in his character. We're confident in his work ethic and all that he brings. So, now he's got to go do it between the lines."
There are people who will compare him to Arik Armstead for the size similarities. Is their game the same or do they complement one another?
"You know, they're a little different, but I think they do complement each other very well. But, they're different types, a little different type of athletes. Obviously, both similar size. When you look at DeForest though, that's a big man. He was 291 pounds at the Combine. He's probably going to be in that 305 to 310 range when it's all said and done."
There was a video that surfaced earlier of Miami Dolphins T Laremy Tunsil allegedly smoking marijuana. He was available at seven. Obviously he fell a little bit. Were you guys aware of that video and did that impact your decision with that pick?
"Well, I think every team is aware of the video. We factor in everything. So, whether you get that information late in the process or you get it early in the process, it's all factored in."
Did you go into this pretty much knowing you were going to get back in later in the first round? How important was that to get the two picks in the first round?
"Well, you go into it with a plan. You know the players that you want and you kind of follow the board. And where we had [G] Josh [Garnett] valued and what had come off the board and where we were at and what we need, it was a player that we had a lot of value in. We worked hard on him. One thing that really impressed us about him is coming to the Pro Day. He'd already done his Pro Day. He'd already done his work at the Combine and he comes here on a local Pro Day and he works again. That just told us a little bit more about the young man. So, he too, very talented. You watch, another high character guy, another senior, guy that went through the whole process. So, there's just a lot of things to like and a great fit. We've said all along, we want to run the football and he's, in our mind, was the best run blocking offensive linemen, interior guy in the entire draft."
Where you jumped up to get him, were you fearful that you'd be facing him twice a year?
"Well, I don't know fearful for facing him twice a year. We looked at the next seven, eight picks and who was sitting there and their needs and for us, it just, you know, why not? We like the guy, we like him a lot. We have that kind of value placed on him. Let's go get him and let's not sweat it out over the next seven picks."
Was going back in for a quarterback thought about at all or under consideration?
"It was talked about, absolutely. It was talked about."
At a specific place or did you have Garnett rated above all those guys maybe?
"Well, you know, I'm not going to lead into where we had guys placed on the board. That never is a positive, even a year after the draft. Let people wonder where we've got guys on the board. But, you know, safe to say that Josh was very highly rated on our board and someone that we felt could come in here and compete early on."
The way the quarterback situation is now is the same way it's been for months now with QB Colin Kaepernick and QB Blaine Gabbert. Is that the competition you see going forward?
"You know, we've said that all along. The media's made a lot of speculations and things, but we've, I think from the combine on we've stated the same thing. Coaching staff's excited and we're excited. We've got two guys that we feel, we've got four quarterbacks on this roster. They're all going to get a chance to compete. That's a question to really address with the coaches on how that thing, but I know this, they're excited to have all of them."
Just to be clear, when you said you talked about a quarterback, you talked about trading back into the first round to get a quarterback?
"No. Through the process of putting the board together, you're looking at all of the different scenarios. What could be? What ifs? You can't possibly touch them all because you really don't know how the board is going to fall off. The board held up well. The board fell, there were a couple of surprises for us, but the board for the most part held up pretty well. And when we got into the early twenties, we had already made a decision or talked it through last week that here are the scenarios, here are the guys that we would be willing to trade back in for and Josh was one of those players."
Did you get close to trading out of the seven spot? Did you get some offers?
"We talked about it. You know, we talked about moving up as well. So, we researched both. This year, for whatever reason, there was a lot more movement early on than normal, especially when you consider the first two picks, those trades happening so early in the process. So, the phone was pretty active, pretty active throughout the day and certainly pretty active later on because there were teams that were looking to get out of there, those 25, 26, the later first round picks."
With Denver taking the quarterback, does this mean now that Colin is off the trade market?
"We've answered this question a lot, and we're moving forward with the guys that are on this football team and Colin's on this football team and been a big part of this football team for a long time. So, nothing's changed from the comments we've made, [49ers head] coach [Chip Kelly] and I made at the combine in April."
What's your reaction to former T Anthony Davis' tweets yesterday that seemed to be pretty focused on you? Are you moving past Anthony Davis at this point? Do you have to make any decision on him at all?
"Well, there's no decision to be made. Right now, he's not in the National Football League. He's retired. So, there's no reason to even speculate on what we're going to do or what we might do. He's got to be reinstated into the league and that's a process that takes some time. He doesn't put in and a day later he's reinstated. There's a process that he has to go through."