SANTA CLARA — This is the transcript of Trent Baalke’s press conference about first-round pick Eric Reid, courtesy of the 49ers.
How did the trade go down with Dallas? Is this something you had planned the last couple of days, figuring that might be the slot where you actually go and get S Eric Reid?
“Yeah, it’s something I was visiting with [Dallas Cowboys chief operation officer/director of player personnel] Stephen Jones about the last couple of days. We had worked out the details really this morning, as to if our guy was there and if they were still willing to move back, we had the parameters worked out. It was really an easy trade on the clock.”
When you talked about that, do you tell him who you want?
“No. We don’t talk about who we want. If our player was there we would be willing to move up, if he wasn’t then we would have stayed pat or maybe looked at a different option.”
Did you have different spots in the draft and different conversations with teams like the ones you had with the Cowboys?
“We had a lot of conversations. This was a busy week. There were a lot of teams that were looking to do different things. Obviously in our case, teams wanting to move back and other teams calling us to see if we were willing to move up. There was a lot of talk. Probably thought there was going to be a few more trades that happened than really did, but it was an active week.”
Did you talk to teams in the top 10?
“I talked to teams at every level. Now, how much interest did we have in moving into the top 10, I wouldn’t share that with you any way, but we had talks with teams throughout the draft in terms of every level of the draft.”
What is your scouting report on Reid?
“He’s a prototype safety in terms of size. He’s got good length, long arms, 6-1 plus, 210 pounds He’s got the height, weight, speed that we were looking for at the position. He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s a physical football player and we really felt he was an all-around safety. He can play high, he can play low, he’s done a lot in the back half and he’s also done a lot moving up into the box. So, felt he inserted strong and played the type of ball that we wanted to see out of a safety.”
How would you compare him to S Dashon Goldson? Are there similarities in those two guys?
“We’re not going to compare guys. We never compare guys around here in terms of one player to the next, whether it’s this generation or trying to compare him to someone that’s played in the past. It’s Eric Reid and his traits are what we were looking for.”
Let me ask it this way, Goldson had a reputation as being a good enforcer as someone that could come up and help in the running game. Does Reid have those same traits to do that?
“Yeah, we feel good about his ability to insert and play a physical brand of football. You saw it in a lot of games this year if you watched any of his college tape. He’s a physical football player. Like I say, he’s 210 pounds plus, he runs in the 4.4s and heady ball player. He triggers fast on the run, he reacts well to the pass and it’s about learning the angles of the pro game and learning the speed of the pro game. But, I feel very confident that he’s going to be able to do that and do it quickly.”
You’ve said there’s an adjustment to the NFL. Three years ago you drafted a safety pretty high, in the top 50 picks, Taylor Mays, and he is not with the team anymore. If you can, why do you think this guy has that ability to translate that maybe other guys don’t?
“Once again, you watch the film and that’s all you have to go by in this business. You have the film, you have the interview process, the ability to talk to their coaches. This is a young man that coach [Jim Harbaugh] actually recruited out of high school to go to Stanford, so he knows him well as well. We’ve got a lot of familiarity with Eric [Reid] and his family and are just fortunate that we were in a position and Dallas was willing to work with us and get this thing done. We’re glad to have him.”
You’re sitting there at 34. Do you expect a lot of action, especially with the quarterbacks still on the board, most of them?
“You never know what to expect. Go home, try to take a break from it, come back tomorrow and if the phone rings, it rings. We’re prepared to make the pick. We’re also prepared to listen. If there are teams that are willing to move up and we feel like we want to move back, we will. If we feel like we want to make the pick, we’ll make the pick.”
Are you going to turn your phone off tonight or are you going to leave it on?
“I always leave it on.”
Anything surprise you about the way the first round played out?
“No. I thought, when we talked prior to the draft, there wasn’t, typical drafts there’s probably a larger pool of what you would consider marquee players. But at the same time, we felt there was a very big group, large group, of that next-level of player. And any time you get that, you’re going to have teams that are able to address need, probably more so than best player available because in a draft like this, the players available are very close to one another. So, you’re going to address need in those situations and I think that’s what a lot of teams did, us included.”
Did the teams in the division take players that you expected them to take?
“Yeah, they did. We had a pretty good feel for how this draft was going to fall, especially within our own division. But you never know. A lot of things can happen and some things did happen on the clock that we weren’t expecting, so you adjust to it. Everybody has their own board and they work off their own board. No two teams are alike and that’s what makes the draft so much fun.”
Your coach said that this was the unanimous choice among everybody there. How long ago did you reach that unanimity if this was available, you’re going to pick, a while ago, or?
“Well, we’ve been at this for a long time. When exactly, we had a lot of conversations over the last week, week-and-a-half, and I can’t nail down a specific time.”
Within the past week?
“Absolutely, within the last few days. We’ve had several things that we were looking at, several different scenarios. This was a scenario that we were hoping would play out and once again, fortunate enough that it did.”
Why didn’t you guys bring him in for a visit?
“Why would we want to advertise to the rest of the league that we have interest in a player?”
Did you see him in person play in any games?
“I’ve seen Eric play several times in games. This year, no, but I’ve seen him play several times over his career.”
When you look at your depth chart, this was the only spot where there was not an obvious starter. How big of a priority was it for you guys just to get that out of the way and then you can go on and use the other picks, however many you use, to just build on depth?
“I don’t know that it was a priority. I really don’t. We didn’t wake up and say, ‘We’ve got to go get him, regardless of anything.’ We feel very good about the guys we have. And I’ve said this before, the guys in that locker room aren’t going to sit there and worry about Eric Reid. They’ve got a job to do. They’re competitive guys and they’re going to make Eric earn everything he gets on this football team, just as we do as coaches and personnel guys. You’ve got to earn your way onto the field and we’ve seen that first hand.”
If there’s no movement, do you know who you want tomorrow, right now?
“Absolutely we know. But that doesn’t mean that something can’t happen over the night and you wake up tomorrow and the phone rings and somebody has a deal that you can’t refuse and you trade back. Otherwise, we are prepared to make the pick.”
You mentioned learning angles better at the NFL level. Supposedly, his tackling technique could be improved. He obviously has the physical ability. Do you feel good about some of the weaknesses in his game are things that can be coached up at the NFL level?
“As far as tackling, I don’t know where that comes from. We feel very good about his tackling. To me, the game is angles and angles are a change because the speed of the game changes. The speed of the college game versus the speed of the NFL game are two different things. So, when you’re talking about defensive backs and you’re talking about defensive players, the angles are something that they have to learn because they change dramatically at this level.”
So if you ever bring anyone in for a pre-draft visit, we’re assuming that’s because you don’t want to draft them based on the previous answer?
“You’re assumption would be wrong.”
You’ve got to reconcile with the last answer though, why would we want to advertise to the world?
“Yeah, why would we want to advertise anything? You bring guys in for different reasons. You bring guys in because you’re interested in them. You bring guys in because you need to find out more about them. You bring guys in because the rest of the world thinks that those are the guys that you’re interested in. So, you do these things for a lot of different reasons. You don’t just bring in 30 guys that you have total interest in, otherwise, it’s pretty easy to figure out which direction you’re going on draft day.”