SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Trent Baalke’s Friday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.
How do you guys envision DT Cornellius “Tank” Carradine as far as where he’ll play? Is he a defensive end? Is he an outside linebacker?
“Well, he’s going to play down. He’s not an outside linebacker. In our system, it’s one of the things we really liked is the versatility. He’s a little bit bigger than [DT] Ray [McDonald] was when Ray came out. Just a guy that we think can play the four technique, the five technique, can play in our sub package. Can kick down and play a three and also stay outside in the sub package. So, just a lot of position versatility with him.”
Could he kind of I guess have the rotation with LB Aldon Smith and LB Ahmad Brooks?
“Could he be in that rotation?”
“In the sub package stuff, absolutely, yes.”
Do you think he’ll eventually get to 290-300 pounds?
“We think he has the frame to do that. Ray was, like I said, Ray was a little shorter and a little lighter than Tank at the same stage coming out. And Ray carries 290 pretty easily and very comfortable at it. So, we definitely think there is room for growth. But, you never really know until you get your hands on him. And [head strength and condition coach] Mark [Uyeyama] will do a tremendous job with him in the weight room, and we’ll get him to the right weight.”
He was pretty insistent that his knee is healthy. Do you guys share that same view as if he could contribute right at the start of the season?
“Well, that remains to be seen. We’re very confident in what we know of his condition. Obviously, he was at the combine and our medical staff took a very close look at him. And we spent several hours yesterday reviewing his file, going through it with all of the doctors up at Stanford. So, we feel really good about it. The timeframe, that’s really up to the medical staff.”
That’s very similar to what Ray did. Was it similar sort of thing as Ray coming out, too?
“Probably a little cleaner, probably a little cleaner. It was a straight, I believe ACL injury. I don’t want to get into the particulars of it. Everything’s been documented to this point. But, once again, we feel very comfortable. We spent a lot of time reviewing his file. And feel good about the prognosis and what it’s going to take to get him on the field.”
Would you like to see more substituting in 2013 than there has been the previous two seasons along the defensive line?
“Well, once again, that’s up to the coaches. We like to play our players. There’s no doubt about that. And we feel that we’re going to be able to do that as we increase the depth and get everyone up to speed. But, it’s a process. But, as far as playtime and all that, I don’t get into that. That’s what the coaches do. I trust them thoroughly to make the right decisions with that and we leave it at that.”
Through four picks so far you’ve addressed a lot of the visible holes on the roster. Do you really feel like you’ve filled a lot of these needs?
“Well, once again, you fill needs if the value’s right. That’s the age-old debate is – needs versus best player available. We stick with the best player available format. Now, when it’s even, and I think I’ve explained this a lot of times standing up here, but when the value of a player is similar, you’re going to go with need. When the value of the player is not similar, and one player is clearly the better player on the board, it’s going to be the best player available, which doesn’t always reflect need.”
What stood out on the tape from TE Vance McDonald that you liked him?
“The versatility. He’s a big guy. He’s 260 plus pounds. He’s got a huge wingspan. He’s got big hands. He lines up all over the place. He lines up a little bit in the backfield. He lines up on the line of scrimmage. He lines up in the wing position, off the line of scrimmage. And he also lines up outside. So, once again brings that versatility. He’s smart. He’s tough. And he is a good fit within our system.”
Why not take Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz at 34?
“Why not take him?”
“We chose to move back.”
You traded down from 34 to 40. Were you confident that Tank Carradine would be there? Or were there a few players you were comfortable taking then?
“Well, I don’t know that you ever trade back six, seven, eight picks and hope one player’s there. That’s risky business. So, we had a number of players that we were willing to take. And at that time we felt that one of that group of guys was going to be available at 40. And we would have been happy with all of them.”
The way you describe McDonald sounds a lot like former 49ers TE Delanie Walker. Is he more advanced as a blocker than Delanie was coming out of college?
“Well, I guess the answer to that would be yes. Because Delanie was a wide receiver in college, and Vance has actually played on the line of scrimmage. And he’s a much bigger man. Delanie was a shade over 6’2”, roughly 240 pounds coming out. This guy’s a little over 6’4”, 265 plus pounds coming out. So, there’s a considerable size difference and there’s a bigger body of work to study, as far as Vance blocking versus Delanie coming out. But, we’re not in a comparison as we’ve said many a times. Delanie developed into a very competent blocker. So, they’re different guys.”
I take it LB Corey Lemonier, he’s more of an outside prototype, outside linebacker?
“Yes, he’ll be in the outside linebacker position. He’s another one we feel can fit into the sub package grouping as well, more on the outside than on the inside. So, he’ll get in that rotation. And once again, it’s all about creating competition. We’ve got a good group of linebackers and Corey’s going to have to come in and earn his position.”
Going back to Carradine, in college he was pretty much an end, right, rushing the passer?
“He lined up a little bit inside. There are a number of snaps of him, I don’t know the exact count without going back to my files. But, he lined up inside in their sub package stuff. But, the interesting thing was he’s a junior college guy that is a one-year starter there that was able to play all over the place. He played on the right side. He played on the left side. He moved inside a little bit. So, the versatility and the size, all that stuff played into it.”
So conceivably in nickel situations, he could be at any of those four spots?
“That’s what I said earlier. That’s what we liked about him is the versatility. He can line up inside and he can line up outside. Whether right side, left side, he’s shown he can do that. So, that’s one of the things that we looked hard at.”
With only one year of college for him, how much development more do you think he needs?
“Once again, when you’re looking at these college guys, they all need development. How soon are they ready to play? I’ve always said this, that’s up to the individual. Some come in and adjust rather quickly. Others take a little bit more time. But, we’re confident that the number one thing with Tank is getting him healthy, getting him ready to play. And that’s left up to our medical staff. What that timeline is, I couldn’t even forecast it at this time.”
What kind of report did you get from defensive line coach Jim Tomsula about Tank?
“As far as what?”
Well, I mean it seems like you relied on your assistant coaches, more so this season than previous ones. Is that correct?
“No, I wouldn’t say that’s correct. I think the position coaches have always been involved. And we’ve said from day one that we were going to do this thing together. So, what we do is everybody does their job. We study as much tape as we possibly can. We don’t study it together. We let the position coaches and the coordinators look at the film, evaluate the players, grade the players. We do it on our end separately. And then we come together and we talk about it. And it’s a process. But, Jim obviously plays a huge role in that, coach Tomsula, in terms of the defensive linemen. One of the critical factors is making sure that these young men fit the system. That they can do what we’re going to be asking them to do. You can’t stick a round peg in a square hole. They’ve got to fit. And Tank is a guy, and Corey is a guy that fits.”
All four players you’ve drafted all have been a by-product of a trade. So, I’m wondering, all those 13 draft picks you had coming in, has that been extremely helpful the way you thought it would be and has it just been the phone ringing off the hook constantly because of that?
“Well, there’s been a lot of back and forth. The phone’s been very active this year, probably a little bit more active than it’s been in the past. And, one of the reasons is we do have a lot of trade bait. So, there are teams calling, looking to acquire more picks and there’s times when you want to sit tight and there’s a lot of times where people will question, ‘Well, why did you move up five when he would have been there?’ Well, there’s no proof that the player would have been there. So, you do what you need to do to make sure you get the players you want to get.”
Is it only one phone? It seems striking, as much that’s going on you would have more than one phone.
“There are four lines in the room. [Head] Coach will [Jim Harbaugh] pick up the phone. I’m on the phone. [Chief operating officer] Paraag’s [Marathe] on the phone. And, even [chief executive officer] Jed will [York] get on the phone at times. Usually you don’t have four phones ringing at once, but we certainly could.”
Has it happened? Have you had four guys on the phone at once?
“Not this year. Not this year. I think the most we’ve had on the lines at one time this year is two. But, in the past, we’ve had times were the phones were ringing.”
After reworking LB Patrick Willis’ deal do you guys have to create more space to sign your draft picks?
“To be honest with you, I’d have to look. I don’t believe so. I think that’s all we needed to do.”
LB Corey Lemonier said, to the best of his knowledge, the 49ers were never in touch with him in anyway.
In a case like that is that an instance where a guy like checks out, based on your interviews or whatever, character wise and everything you don’t really worry about him just because you know what type of guy he is, is that part of that?
“Well, I’ve said this. Our scouting staff is outstanding. I have a lot of faith in the information that they bring back. And, when all the stars align, and you feel very good about the character of individual, and the learning ability and the intangibles, the film speaks for itself, right? But, all those other things, when the stars align, do you really need to tip your hand and let anybody know that you’re interested in them? Does it do any good to bring them in and interview them again so that people start to think, ‘Well, maybe they’re interested in.’ Sometimes it’s better off to go with the work that your area scouts do, and we do. We put a lot of faith in the information they bring back and they do an outstanding job. So, in this case, the stars aligned and we were very comfortable with what he could, based on the film. All the other stuff we were comfortable with, so there was no reason to dig any deeper.”
You did not talk to him at the combine, you personally?
He was so unfamiliar with the 49ers he said that John Harbaugh called him to tell him he was drafted?
“I don’t know. I wasn’t on the phone.”
He was a little giddy too. He was pretty excited.
“He was very excited. And, that’s the thing. You do as much homework as you can on these guys and you’ve got to trust the information. And, once again, fortunate to have guys out there beating the bushes, working as hard as they do, spending as much time as they do away from their families to get this information and get it right. You’ve got to roll with it.”
Who was the scout in charge with him or in that area?
“In that area, it would be [national scout] Matt Malaspina and [director of college scouting] Joel Patten, over the top.”