Baalke likely to continue in 49ers’ lead personnel role

Some observations from Santa Clara after the first round of the NFL draft:

 

–The 49ers might not hire a general manager, per se, to replace Scot McCloughan, but it sure looks as if Trent Baalke has put himself in position to be the organization’s top personnel man – regardless of what the position is called.

He pulled the trigger on the trade last week that brought speedster Ted Ginn to the team for a fifth-round pick. And Thursday he made a decisive move to trade up two spots to secure the services of tackle Anthony Davis.

 

It was a questionable strategy, considering the 49ers surrendered a fourth-round pick to jump over a couple teams that did not have any needs at offensive tackle. But Baalke did not want to take any chances of losing out on Davis to a team trading up.

 

Baalke said he’d do the same thing “100 out of 100 times.”

 

Though Baalke admitted to being more nervous answering questions from the media afterward than he was during the draft, he did not show it. He handles himself quite well in that kind of setting.

 

It sure appeared as if Baalke had a plan – upgrade the team’s woeful offensive line – and he followed through with conviction. In short, he looked like a leader.

 

–Were the 49ers targeting two offensive linemen all along?

 

“It was these two offensive linemen,” coach Mike Singletary said. “The other offensive lineman we felt was a really physical guy was Trent Williams. Those three guys, really, we felt fit the identity of what we’re trying to do here.”

 

–Joe Staley is set at left tackle. Eric Heitmann is the center. Chilo Rachal will be at right guard. Davis will compete with Adam Snyder at right tackle, and Mike Iupati will compete with David Baas at left guard. Baas recently signed his one-year tender as a restricted free agent for a non-guaranteed $1.226 million.

 

“Any time you draft someone in the first round, you draft them to play,” Singletary said. “But at the same time, I believe that you want these guys to compete. I don’t want to give anything to anybody. When you come in, you’ve got to earn it. But do I expect them to start? Yes, I do.”

 

–There doesn’t seem to be much use for veteran guard Chester Pitts, with whom the 49ers had contract talks this offseason.

 

–The 49ers never considered selecting quarterback Jimmy Clausen with either of their first-round picks, Singletary and Baalke said. Baalke reiterated that Alex Smith is the team’s quarterback. But, again, he did not rule out the possibility of selecting a quarterback in the second round or third round on Friday.

 

Speaking of Smith . . . never have things been set up like this for him to succeed with the 49ers. He is entering the second year in the same system with the same offensive coordinator for the first time in his career. He has a Pro Bowl running back, a Pro Bowl tight end, a top-10 pick at wide receiver, and a remodeled offensive line.

 

The 49ers want to see Smith succeed this season before offering him a contract for 2011 and beyond.

 

–Since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger, the highest previous pick the 49ers used on an offensive tackle was No. 22. That was Harris Barton in 1987.

 

–During that same time frame, the highest selection used on a guard was No. 33. Coincidentally, that was where the 49ers took Baas in 2005.

 

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Here is my article from this morning’s Press Democrat: 49ers fortify line with selections of Davis, Iupati.

 

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Look for my Round 2 mock draft Friday morning.

 

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The remainder of the 49ers’ draft looks like this:

 

Friday

Second round: No. 17 (No. 49 overall)

Third round: No. 16 (No. 79 overall)

 

Saturday

Sixth round: No. 13 (No. 182 overall)

Sixth round (compensatory): No. 37 (No. 206 overall)

Seventh round: No. 17 (No. 224 overall)

 

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