49ers' Baalke Shares Thoughts on Draft

Trent Baalke, the 49ers Director of Player Personnel, will run the first draft of his career starting this Thursday. He met with local beat writers last week to share his thoughts on the draft. As expected, he didn't reveal a whole lot, but there were a couple of hints here and there.

First and foremost, Baalke did not put the kibosh on the popular rumor that has the 49ers drafting Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen with the 13th overall pick. "We're not going to rule out anything at this point. But I want to reiterate that Alex Smith is our quarterback. And we have total confidence to get the job done and we're looking forward to going into the season with him," he said.

I explained in a recent post why drafting Clausen would be a bad idea for the 49ers, for several reasons.

Baalke also confirmed that his philosophies on players are similar to those of his former boss, ex-general manager Scot McCloughan, who was known to favor height and size, particularly in receivers, running backs and defensive backs.

"Our system hasn't changed. The types of players we're looking for haven't changed," Baalke said.

Baalke expressed enthusiasm for the new three-day format of the draft, saying that it gives teams, "a chance to re-evaluate yourself not once but twice," adding that, "In the past, you got through the first three rounds, you had a chance that evening or the next morning - depending on whether you were an east coast team or a west coast team - to kind of take another look, reevaluate exactly what you were going to do, position yourself to possibly move up or trade back. Now you get two opportunities to do that."

He said that the team expects to find at least four starters in the draft, considering that the team has four of the top 79 picks in the draft. "When you're drafting in the first three rounds, you're hoping to get a starter... Now does that mean they're going to start Day 1? No. But when you're drafting a guy in rounds 1-3, you're hoping at some point within their career that they're going to develop into a starter and you're also hoping that in the 4-7 rounds you also hit on a couple of those guys, a guy like [safety] Dashon Goldson for instance."

It didn't sound as though he's too high on Cal RB Jahvid Best, saying, "Right now his medical history has no bearing on our decision on whether we're going to draft him or not."

He said that WR Dez Bryant didn't have any red flags on the team's draft board for his behavior. "You put on the film, the film says, yes. You take the stopwatch, the stopwatch says no. We believe in what the film tells us... We have no problem with Dez Bryant's character. None whatsoever."

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Baalke hinted that he's not afraid to draft up to get his man. "If there's a guy you have to move a couple of spots to get, you make the move to get him," he said, adding, "We're going to get the guys we want to get, I promise you."

It's important that Baalke recognizes that he has to be aggressive, because from all indications, if the team wants to draft one of the top three or four offensive tackles, they're going to have to move into the top ten to accomplish that. It remains to be seen how much they value someone like Oklahoma's Trent Williams and how much they would sacrifice to get him.

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