San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke met with the media on Friday at the NFL Combine. Baalke talked for over 16 minutes about a wide range of topics concerning the 49ers.
The best moment of Baalke’s press conference was when he was responding to question about re-signing Anquan Boldin. In the middle of giving an answer, Baakle was interrupted by an NFL employee who was announcing that Seattle Seahawks coach Peter Carroll was now available for questions at a different podium. He responded with a chuckle and said, “That’s interesting. Dueling pianos.”
Click HERE to see the full video of the press conference. Baalke gets interrupted at the 1:10 mark of the video. Here are some highlights:
On Frank Gore:
There’s nothing Frank does that surprises me. I never met a person, an individual, a player, a coach, anybody that’s been around the game of football that is as passionate about the game as Frank Gore. That’s what drives him. Nothing he does surprises us.
On NoVorro Bowman’s injury and possible replacements:
When he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go. If that’s midseason or middle-to-late season – whenever that is – we’ll bring him back to the field.
Michael Wilhoite and Nick Moody are both on the football team and both have done a nice job. Nick is a young guy, still developing at the linebacker position. And Michael Wilhoite is a guy who has stepped in and played well when called upon. We’re going to address that.
On re-signing Anquan Boldin:
We’re just getting into that. Like we’ve always maintained. Our No. 1 objective in the offseason is to take care of our own guys, to identify who we feel we need on our football team moving forward and then find a way to make it work and make it fit from a financial standpoint.
Baalke likes draft prospects with wide wingspans:
I like long arms. Last year’s draft should tell you that. I think length is important. It’s important in every sport. Aldon Smith – great leverage player because you can’t get to him – he’s 36-inch arm length. It’s a trait that’s hard to find.
If you look at this year’s measurements, you’re not going to see many players in the draft that are 34-inch arm length regardless of position.
On Tramaine Brock’s rise from undrafted free agent to starting cornerback for the 49ers:
He was a 500-dollar free-agent signing after the draft and it’s all on him and how he came in and worked at it. Tramaine’s a young man that has put in awful lot of hard work into his craft. I look at the development that he’s made as a player and as a person and how could you not be happy for that individual? He’s earned everything he’s gotten.
On how much he pays attention to a potential draft picks maturity level:
I guess we’re in the age, social media. We pay quite a bit of attention to it. As we narrow the board down over the next several weeks, we will start identifying the players who we want to look at their social media, take a look at their accounts, how active they are, what they’re saying, what they’re doing. We do address it.
On why drafting the right quarterback is so hard:
It’s a tough position to play. Drafting it, getting it right – if anyone had the answer, they would be doing it, right? It’s a tough position. There is so much that goes on from a mental standpoint and a physical standpoint. It’s just a very difficult position to play. Some have mastered it, some are at that level of trying to master it and some never will master it. The position was difficult from the beginning and it’s still difficult.
On Quinton Patton’s rookie season:
Any time you get injured it takes away from your growth as a player. It was a little bit of a rocky road for him. But the amazing thing about him is how resilient he is. I talk about Frank and how much he loves the game. I think if you asked everyone on our football team, “Give me the top two or three guys that love to play,” Quinton’s name probably is going to come up quite a bit. He loves being on the field, loves practicing, loves being in the building, he’s a great teammate and a hard worker. He’s going to bounce back from that, and I think you saw it toward the end of the year that he already had started to make a leap.
I think he could play inside and outside. He’s a very smart football player, he works very hard at the game and his skill sets translate inside and out.
On LaMichael James’ role next season:
All I can say is it’s a crowded backfield. Frank had an awfully good football season. Coach mentioned yesterday – A++. Frank had that kind of year. It’s tough. There are certain game plans where LaMichael was meant to play a little bit bigger role than he ended up playing, but that’s the game. Every game you go into with a plan, and sometimes that plan changes based on what you’re seeing and what the other team is doing. You’ve got to be flexible. And it’s up to LaMichael. It’s up to every player. We tell every player, “It’s up to you to earn time on the field.” It’s not about what he hasn’t been doing, but more about what Frank has been doing.