SANTA CLARA — Here is the transcript of Trent Baalke’s post-draft press conference, courtesy of the 49ers’ public relations department.
Today was an offensive-heavy day, but I’m curious about the 5th round selection of Bradley Pinion. What did you see in him as a punter and what does it mean for P Andy Lee?
“First thing, what we saw in Bradley is a big, strong-legged punter that also kicks off. What it means for Andy, no different than any other position. You come in and you compete. It’s not a message to Andy at all. As we always talk about, best player on the board at the time.”
He’s a big guy, but seems like his best attribute is the finesse game, not knocking it into the endzone.
“You’ve watched a lot of film on him.”
Is that what kind of drew you to him? His control, directional punting, not putting it into the endzone.
“Everybody coaches their punters differently. Some want them to drive the ball. Some want them to position the ball. It’s really independent of the system. But he does a nice job controlling the ball, pinning it inside the 20. He’s been real effective. He’s shown the ability to kick off as well, which is always an asset. At the same time, Andy has been here for a long time and he’s a heck of a punter. We expect him to come in and continue to compete. It’s not Bradley’s job, it’s Andy’s job. It’s Brad’s job to come in and win that job.”
Did former 49ers RB Marcus Lattimore give you any scouting report on RB Mike Davis?
“We got a little bit of information, a little inside information. That’s a player that the scouts did a tremendous job with getting information, as they always do. He’s a guy that’s been intriguing for us. Been pretty much in the same place on our board the entire draft process, which is always nice. Sometimes you get guys that move up, move down, based on different information. This is a guy that stayed really in the same spot the whole way through.”
He said that he took a lot of pride in pass blocking. Did that come through on the film that you watched?
“I used to work for [South Carolina head coach] Coach [Steve] Spurrier when we were in Washington. Obviously, he throws the ball all over the place. So, if you’re a running back in that system, you got to be able to catch the ball and you got to be able to pass pro. He’s shown the ability to do that. He’s a three-down back in the National Football League. That was what we were looking for.”
Your connection with Spurrier, does that explain Lattimore, Culliver, three guys I think today from South Carolina? I’m sure it goes beyond that. Does that relationship make you feel a little more comfortable drafting some of those South Carolina guys?
“Well, you know they’re going to be well-coached. They’re going come into the league, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and that’s nothing against the defense, but on the offensive side of the ball you know they’re going to come into the league well-versed. They’re going to be able to pick up the information. They’re going to usually, almost always be able to on play three downs, if it’s a back. And they’re prepared.”
The wide receiver you got out of Georgia Tech, do you plan on redshirting him this year coming off that ACL?
“I don’t know that ‘redshirt’ is the right word. He should be ready to go. It all depends what he looks like when he gets in here, what we need to do to get him rehabbed and ready to go. But it’s a situation where he may not be ready for training camp, but he may be ready at some point in the immediate future after that. We just got to get our hands on him, see exactly where he’s at. But feel confident that the rehab is going very well up to this point. We’ll see what we’re dealing with when we get our hands on him.”
What did you like about him that you did see on film from the two years that he did play at Georgia Tech?
“Well, he’s big. He’s physical. He can block. He can run after the catch. He’s got huge hands, size 11 hands. He’s a physical wide receiver. One of the things that coach and I talked about through this process is we wanted to get bigger, we wanted to get faster, we wanted to get more competitive. We wanted more four-down players, guys that could go out there and compete on special teams. And we feel we addressed that with most of these guys, if not all of these guys.”
He wasn’t able to run a 40. Where did you guys have him at in terms of his tape and his play speed?
“We thought he was somewhere in the low to mid 4.5s. For a guy 227 pounds, he moves pretty well. Heck of an athlete. Obviously a baseball player. If we need a guy to get in there and throw the rock a little bit around, he can throw a 97 mile-per-hour fastball, so I think he might be able to throw a football around, too. Joking.”
With Marcus Lattimore, obviously, not being able to come back, does picking a player with a torn ACL, a serious knee injury like that give you any more pause based on what happened last fall?
“I wouldn’t compare his situation at all to Marcus’. Marcus sustained a very traumatic injury, much more severe than your normal ACL tear. They’re just non-comparable injuries. Anytime you take a player that has had an injury, there’s certainly risk involved. In this game, there’s always risk because you’re only one play away from the injury, right?”
Can you talk about the versatility TE Blake Bell has and whether you see him as kind of an emergency quarterback, as well?
“Interesting point. We do see him as an emergency quarterback. We do see a guy that we can train up there. That was brought to me by the coaches. The coaches took a look. My hat’s off to them because they did the work. They went through and took a look at him last week as a quarterback and kind of gave us a feeling that, you know what, we can get this guy ready to play and be an emergency backup in that situation. But he’s definitely been brought in here to be a tight end. That’s a good room. There’s a lot of talent in that room. So there’s going to be a lot of competition going into this offseason and into this training camp.”
Eight tight ends right now on the roster?
“I believe that count is right, eight, yes.”
Can you keep eight on your 90-man or are you going to have to do some stuff before you get to camp?
“To be honest with you, we have to go back and talk through all that and talk through what the 90 is going to look like. Right now, we have eight. Will it stay at eight? That remains to be seen. Myself, coach and the rest of the coaching staff will get together, we’ll talk through exactly what we need to do. We’re going to bring the best 90 players into camp.”
With those tight ends, why add TE Busta Anderson in the seventh round. Is there some element that he has that you don’t have with the other guys?
“He was the highest-rated player on our board. Once again, I keep going back to that, but you never go wrong taking good football players. He was the highest-rated player on our board. It just so happened that Arizona, the pick or two right after us, took a tight end. Maybe that was the guy. If he was the highest-rated tight end and we were able to keep that from happening, more power to us. I’m not saying that Arizona, that was their target either. But you’re always looking to take the best player available. If you have him, that means someone else can’t get him.”
There was a situation where Arizona jumped up ahead of you earlier, I believe in the fourth round.
“You’d have to tell me. I remember them jumping ahead of us. It didn’t impact our situation. They didn’t take a player that we were looking at.”
Getting back to Bell, did you say the coaches worked him out as a quarterback recently?
“No, I didn’t say they worked him out. I said they watched all the film, a lot of the film of him at quarterback and gave us an assessment as to what they thought of him at that position and what he could do for us in that role.”
Not to go position by position and figure out all the numbers that you want to keep, but looking at running back, without former 49ers RB Frank Gore here now and you add Mike Davis, you have RB Jarryd Hayne come in, how do you see those guys getting into this mix?
“Compete, right, like we do at every position. We’re going to roll out the ball. Coaches are going to coach the heck out of them. We’re going to find out exactly what we have in every one of those players and what role they will fill if they’re on the 53.”
OL Trenton Brown played guard last season for Florida. Do you guys see him more as an offensive tackle?
“Right now we see him as an offensive lineman. He played offensive tackle in 2013. He played guard and a little bit of tackle in 2014. He’s 6’8″. He’s 350 pounds. He runs a 5.23. He has 36-inch arms. There’s something to work there. It’s a big piece of clay right now. We got some work to do. But he’s played a lot of football at a high level of competition. He’s shown versatility. He’s shown the ability to learn multiple positions. With that, you got something to work with.”
He said that his diet has not been good in his life, but he recently improved it and he’s seen his weight drop. Do you have an idea about, with a steady workout regiment, better diet, where he might end up weight-wise?
“I think what we have to do is get him in here. We got to get our strength coaches, our medical staff, training staff I should say, to take a look, see where he’s at on certain criteria that we use, and find out what the ideal weight is for him. But we’re confident in talking with him that he understands what he’s got to do to make this football team. He’s going to have to come in here and work, like all of these guys. But when you’re a seventh-round pick, the writing’s on the wall. You know what you need to do.”
Quarterback-wise, you have QB Colin Kaepernick, QB Blaine Gabbert, QB Dylan Thompson, assuming he signs. Anybody else you’re looking to bring in as an undrafted guy or is that it?
“I don’t know where we’re at with Dylan. We came down here. I don’t know where that’s at. I can’t comment.”
He announced it.
“Thank you. We got one.”
Assuming he signed, will that complete the quarterback group?
“For the time being, yes.”
Were all of your picks today kind of about adding power and size and getting back to that power mentality you guys want on offense?
“I think it was all about best player. Like I said earlier, when we went into the draft, we were looking at certain criteria that we felt we needed to do. We wanted to stay big. We wanted to get faster. We wanted to get as much football intellect as we could out of each position. We wanted healthy guys, guys that had a history of playing and not missing games due to injury. Some guys are injury-prone. We wanted to stay away from that as much as we could. We felt we addressed all of that. And they’re good guys. They’re going to come in here. They know their role right now. I think you saw through the guys that you’ve at least contacted and the messaging that they’ve been giving, they know they’re going to have to come in here and compete and compete for a role.”
You talked about the good guys. At first blush, doesn’t look like you took character risk. There were a lot of guys out there on the board this year, maybe more than ever, maybe it’s more reported than ever. Was it a conscious effort to stack your roster with guys who aren’t character risks?
“Like I mentioned yesterday, there’s the known and the unknown, right? We tried to do the best job we could of avoiding the known. We’ll deal with the unknown once we get rolling here. But we felt we did a solid job. My hat’s off, once again, to the scouts. They worked tirelessly all year long gathering information, talking to sources, meeting the guys, spending extra time with them in the spring. There’s a lot of work that goes into it. I feel strongly that we’ve done a good job of identifying the known, OK? Now, what the unknown is, we’ll deal with that as it comes. But we feel good about this group of guys, that’s for sure.”
Last year you drafted four defensive backs. This year, no cornerbacks at all. Is it fair to glean then that you like what you have at the cornerback position right now going forward?
“We do. We really do. We’re high on the three guys we took in last year’s draft. We tried to address it at multiple times during this draft. The board, it didn’t fall that way. Sometimes they fall, sometimes they don’t. We’re not going to reach. We’re not going to reach for players. It’s just something we don’t do. But we do feel good, real good, about that group in that room right now.”
Each of your first three picks was followed directly by a cornerback. Were those cornerbacks taken after your first three picks in a different tier than the players you took?
“I think you could assume that. Now, I don’t know who the exact players are you’re referring to.”
Marcus Peters, Eric Rowe…
“Rowe is a corner/safety, right? On our board, he was a safety, not a corner. So I don’t know where Philadelphia is going to play them. We had him at a safety. We took the safety that we wanted and felt very good about that pick. So like I said, there were times we tried to address it. The board didn’t fall that way. Sometimes it doesn’t. But we feel real good about the group we have and feel real good about the players that we drafted the last three days.”
Given the backgrounds of Bell and WR DeAndre Smelter, it seems like guys you don’t have tons of play of Bell, one season at tight end that you can see. Not a ton of tape on Smelter as well, he’s coming off the ACL. Do you view the fourth round as an area where you can start taking risks on guys like that with intriguing physical qualities but interesting background?
“A fair question. I’m not trying to compare. I never make comparisons. But when you look statistically at Jimmy Graham and you compare his college statistics to Blake Bell’s, I think you’ll see that they’re very similar, right? Once again, that’s a Pro Bowl tight end. He’s had a heck of a career. Not making that comparison at all. All I’m pointing out is statistically they were very similar. He’s a guy that only had one year at that position. We just see the skill sets that we’re looking for in a tight end and feel like, once again, he’s a heck of an athlete at 6’6″, 250 plus pounds, running in the mid 4.7s. Highly competitive, very smart, former quarterback. Great work ethic. All the intangibles you’re looking for. You like the upside in those kind of guys.”
You’ve commented on all the picks except for one. What drew you to OL Ian Silberman?
“Guard/tackle combination. He’s played both inside and outside. Another guy that has a high football intellect and toughness. That and he’s got size and he can run. There’s something to work with there. That’s what you’re looking for the later you get into the draft. You’re looking for traits and you’re looking for the intangibles. Because If they have some traits and they’ve got good intangibles, you know you’re going to get as much out of them as they got in them. That’s what you’re looking for.”
In this draft in particular, you talked about best player available on your board. Is that unique to this draft? Have you done this more than other drafts in recent seasons?
“I don’t think so. Once again, this might have laid out a little differently than some of the other boards have. As I looked at it, and I’m trying to think back to those other drafts and where guys were, but there were some clear differences this year, where maybe at a need position there was a guy, but the guy we ended up taking was at least a round or maybe two rounds higher on the board. So we just stuck with the board. And no injury questions, I like that.”