Conspiracy theory

Fact No.1: The 49ers were linked publicly to five big-name wide receivers during free agency — DeSean Jackson, Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, Hakeem Nicks and Julian Edelman. The Niners signed none of them.

Fact No.2: The 49ers have been linked publicly to three cornerbacks who are projected to get drafted in the second or third round of the upcoming draft — Bashaud Breeland, Jaylen Watkins and Stanley Jean-Baptiste.

Fact No.3: At the owners meetings in Orlando on March 26, Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers want to add “a third receiver who can get open and make plays, another option for the quarterback to go to, a chance to attack all areas of the field. A play maker. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Those three facts have helped create the perception that Trent Baalke aims to draft a wide receiver with the 49ers’ first pick, and a cornerback with the Niners’ second or third pick.

Do you think Baalke, Harbaugh and the 49ers intentionally created that perception to throw everyone off, and their plan is to draft a cornerback first, not a wide receiver?

This article has 93 Comments

    1. No. Doesn’t make sense for a team at 30 to intentionally try and misdirect. At that point there are multiple players at different positions with the same grade. The only time I could see a team trying to mislead would be at the top when you are trying to get teams to try and trade up with you.

      If they stay at 30, the Niners will take whatever CB or WR is highest on their board, or they’ll take a DL that has fallen with a much higher grade.

  1. I think it is a valid question and would be in keeping with what Baalke said after last year’s draft.

    I’m still thinking WR in the first round, but I’m willing to believe there is some misdirection going on at 49er HQ.

  2. If they’re using subterfuge at all, it seems more likely that they have something else in mind altogether, like drafting a pass rusher.

  3. What’s you point Grant? Misdirection is common practice in the NFL. How does this constitute a conspiracy? Can you conspire with yourself?

  4. They could be doing that, or trying to use a usual practice to hide that the WR position is what they are going after, or they could have another position in mind. Or they could be throwing things out there and having meetings with certain prospects just to mess with the media.

  5. It’s two years running now that you grant have tried to convince yourself that the niners should and will draft a corner in rnd 1. Once again Balke DOES NOT value the corner position high at all. Just take a look at his last couple years of signing free agent corners. He looks for inexpensive bargains to form his secondary. Our number 1 corner is undrafted. Our number 2 was taken in the third rnd. Do I even have to mentionthe other outcast that form our secondary. Balke will draft a corner no earlier then a third rnd pick. That’s where he can get very good value. Quite frankly there is no rookie corner that is going to beat out culliver or cook for that matter now that he is in the right system.. Balke will strike for either Watkins, Evans, or lee.. You heard it first I think!

  6. The 49ers needs are so obvious, it’s pointless to even try the misdirection this draft. It’s CB, WR, CB. I don’t understand fans/draft pundits thinking DL early in the draft? Pretty sure we’ll have Ian Williams back, Tank, Dial and the rest of the returners. Crabs, Boldin, Patton…WR isn’t a bigger need than CB.

    1. With the wealth of draft picks the 49ers have, I could see them grabbing a player they judge to be a bookend pass rusher to Aldon Smith (Dee Ford?) should one fall to them.

      If they drafted a D lineman in the first round, the 49ers would still have plenty of picks to fill their other needs.

      1. That would not be any reason for subterfuge. It also would not come as a surprise if they went that route to me. Lemonier is the book end pass rusher, but you can never have too many. They have the ammo to target any player they deem worthy of spending the bullets. Every team in front of them is cognizant of that fact. If the conspiracy is meant to make the teams in front of them choose a player they think the 49ers are interested in, thereby enabling the unknown target to fall into their laps, that seems like a very unprofessional strategy to me….

        1. It would also make that team pretty stupid, if part of the reason for making the pick was keep that player away from the 49ers.

          If (and it’s a big if) they are using trickeration, the effect it might have, is a team who wanted the same player as the 49ers’ target, might not trade up to get in front if the 49ers.

          I don’t see any team picking a player, unless they really want that player.

    1. Explain how Adam? What rookie corner is going to come in and have that big of an impact? Not even revis his first year was that good. How bout last year a can’t miss top 10 corner in Dee Milner. How did he do? Getting a Watkins or an Evans will put the niners over the top. There diffetence makers! There is no corner that can have an impact like them two.

      1. I’d definitely appreciate as much info on the WR/CB (or other positions) prospects as you want to provide. I like to compare various scouting reports and its hard to remember all your analysis as comments or refer back to them. If you do them in blog posts its much easier to find. Draft prospect discussions (that go nowhere) are much better than “Where’s Jed?” or “Pay Kap?” discussions (that go nowhere).

  7. CK, I hope you’re right about Baalke’s plan, but how do you think he can strike for Watkins or Evans? I don’t see him trading up. I know, he did last year, but I think he’s in love with the whole stockpiling picks for the future plan rather than spending the picks he’s got. I hope I’m wrong and you’re right, but I have a bad feeling…

    1. Bar None,

      Why do you say that?

      You seem to think it’s a bad idea to have more than seven draft picks. If so, I don’t agree. Draft picks by definition are a crap shoot, and the more picks you have, the better.

      Besides having more chances to make good picks, it gives a team flexibility to take advantage of all of their options.

      It seems smart to me.

    2. Baalke is in love with acquiring and stocking draft picks. but even he might eventually realize that there comes a point where that in itself becomes counter productive. You stock them to use when they can produce their optimum value. It is just about recognizing when that is. As I said their comes a time when because of the number involved that you can no longer use them to fill slots or even trade them for futures. It was as he said last season when he wanted to trade them but could find no trade partners. Other teams can surely recognize when you have excess and that decreases your leverage.

    3. I hope that bad feeling goes away, because they are going to be moving up and
      get a good player, weather it be a CB, or WR, I would like them to get 2 first rd picks
      and that way they can get real good players at both of those spots.

  8. Bar, Balke specifically stock piled his picks for this draft. Balke has the fire power to make a huge move. They lost to the arch rivals. What better way to strike fear into seatle by getting a true number 1 WR like Watkins or Evans. Crab and boldin are great possession guys but the niners need there version of Julio jones. The niners have a lack of room on there roster. The niners have 11 picks plus tank, lattimore. Dial and moody, Fleming returning. The niners just don’t have the room.. This is the time to strike for an enormous trade!

  9. Who would they be trying to throw off? Other teams?

    If I’m one of the other 31 teams, I couldn’t care less either way. There are always smoke screens and other BS, but I won’t control what my team does based off what one other team may or may not do.

  10. ““a third receiver who can get open and make plays, another option for the quarterback to go to, a chance to attack all areas of the field. A play maker. That’s what we’re looking for.”
    Maybe I missed the rest of the quote but where does he say he wants to add that particular player in the first round? You’ve assumed that Harbaugh believes he can only find that player in the first round. I’ve never heard that you only get a good ‘third’ receiver in the first round. Why can’t they take a CB first and take their play maker third receiver in the second round?

    1. Do you have faith in Balke waiting for a reciever after rnd 1? If you do that’s great. I don’t! I also see no point with all the picks we have to sit back and wait for a reciever that is not as talented as Watkins or Evans.. We do not have the luxury to wait for another Patton who could be good in a year or so.. Adding a talent similar to a Julio jones is what we need..

      1. CK,

        Why not?

        How many WRs has Baalke drafted in the first four rounds? I only count AJJ and Patton. That’s a pretty small sample size to form an opinion from.

        1. The situation that the team found itself in last year because they relied on the receivers they had might have been a lesson. They really scr*wed up as far as their WR corps last season. They were indeed fortunate that Crabs made an early recovery. The fact that Baalke gambled on AJ reveals that they are aware of the importance of a speed receiver. They were still under the illusion that AJ could be that guy. Well it is obvious that they don’t have one so they realize they have the need and opportunity to get one this draft. They can not afford to miss again. They have got to get one this draft. The name in the envelope stunt was Baalke gloating that he had stolen that hidden gem from the other GM’s. The front office has always been aware of the teams need they just haven’t been very smart in how to fill it.

        1. To his best WR that’s where it went! Maybe we should invest in a more talented wr in the draft that can fight for the ball a little better. Sorry to brake this down to you but Patton ain’t it.

          1. There isn’t a WR that could have caught that ball, especially after Kaep all but telegraphed who he was going to throw to.

            1. Totally agree.
              Being able to anticipate routes and throw his WRs open is Kaeps next step in his development.
              You can see that it frustrates Crabtree when he has to break stride or wait on the ball.
              He throws hard but if DBs can see where the ball is going…

            1. I never said that int was on crab. That was on CK.. It was a nice throw just to inside.. You should never throw a fade pattern to guy who is not built for it. A bad decision by CK no doubt. If we had a reciever that earl Thomas has to respect over the top we win the game easy.. That was my point.

        2. If Sherman has a full grip on the ball than he intercepts it. He just made a last minute recovery to tip the ball away. If the LB is not in position it falls incomplete. Being able to tip a ball does not make it a bad pass. Seattle was fortunate to have a player in the exact position to take advantage of the tip. Six inches higher and it’s perhaps a TD. Six inches is not the difference between a bad and a good pass. There was a lot of luck involved. The interception that Kaep underthrew earlier was a bad pass. The immaculate reception that resulted in the Steeler win was not a good pass it was pure luck. Sometimes luck is the difference between a win or a loss. Coffee’s for Closers –You are seeing what you expect to see based on your preconceptions.

          1. And some people apparently can’t see what is obvious based on their preconceptions. Crabtree was never open on that play. It was a poor decision to throw to him, especially when Patton was wide open.

          2. Exactly Willtalk! Sherman just made a play..Crabtree shouldn’t be the guy sent on those small window jumpballs route..Hence the need for a Big target.Sherman timed the ball well..We talk about receivers High pointing the ball and all on here…Well!.Thats what we need..A receiver to go get it..jump up and get it..or knock it away..Fight for it..Don’t wait for it drop to you.

      1. I’m all for getting the best WR in the draft, no question about it, but if someone don’t
        train Kap on how to read the field for more options to throw to , then it isn’t going to make much difference, this is the one thing I don’t like about Kap.

  11. One important thing to remember is that no matter good these rookie WRs are, Baalke won’t consider them if they can’t/won’t/don’t block.
    So one can whittle down the WR list a bit just based on that.

  12. Nah, just par for the course in the empire.
    The 49ers Org never shows their hand to the football world or it’s players for that matter.

  13. CK, I agree with everything you said about the 49ers need for a true #1 receiver, Julio Jones or Calvin Jones type. I wish the Niners would have used a handful of their 12 picks and traded for Josh Gordon (assuming that was ever a real option). I’m not arguing with the need, and I’m not even arguing with the desire, I just don’t see Baalke giving up what it would likely take to move up far enough, say to the 11-12th spot to be able to get Watkins or Evans. I’m with you though, I would love to see him prove me wrong.

    1. I fear that Trent gets locked into a mindset and often fails to see an opportunity that is a variation from his preconceptions. Last season the unforseen injuries created variables that threw off their preconceived plans for the year. They did a horrible job of adjusting to the situation. Somepeople are good at making carrying out preconceived plans but are not very good at adjusting on the fly.

    2. ‘CK, I agree with everything you said about the 49ers need for a true #1 receiver, Julio Jones or Calvin Jones type.’
      Who’s Calvin Jones?

  14. Exgolfer,

    I don’t think stockpiling draft picks is a negative thing, of course not, but there comes a time to spend too, and this draft is the time. I think we can get a true top threat receiver and a couple very capable corners and still address some other areas, but not if half our picks are traded for other future picks. I’m firmly in the camp that feels the Niners are moving through a window of opportunity with a core group of very, very good players, but we need to add the final weapons now, not next year or 2016. The window won’t stay open long. They never do for any team. Though the Niners of the 80’s sure had a great run!

  15. CK,
    Again, I’m with you on this Bro! I’m just not too sure Baalke is too. Can’t wait to see though! 30 days and counting…

  16. Bar, you’re spot on. People acting like our window is 10 years. We don’t even know how long jim coaches with us. Players are getting older. Guys get hurt every year. Seatle, Denver, New England does what it takes to make a run at it. We are sitting back to strike in this draft. It is no coincidence that our two biggest needs are at WR and at corner and this draft is built around those two pisitions. Why take the 3-5 best at those positions when we need the top guy at those positions! Make a statement Balke, it’s got to hurt him that seatle has our SB as bad as it hurts us fans!

  17. Make a statement Balke, it’s got to hurt him that seatle has our SB as bad as it hurts us fans!

    Yes it does have to hurt him more and that’s A LOT of hurt. I still cannot bear the mere thought of Seattle players, and Carroll, holding the trophy that should have been ours. Such a crappy ending to a great playoff run…

  18. I think Balke like’s miricle whip and Harbaugh likes helmans. No though seriously I don’t think they are that calculated. But Harbs does love messing with peoples split pea brains.

  19. A couple things to consider:

    – As the team is currently put together, and if we don’t move up in the first round, no player from this year’s draft will significantly impact our SB chances unless due to injury and said player provides the depth needed to overcome it. That assumption is based on the presumptive positions we’re targeting: WR (where Crab and Boldin will take the majority of targets along w/Davis) and CB (where Brock is starting, Culliver most likely is too, and Wright, Cook, and Cox will battle with any rookie for remaining playing time in nickel packages). Any player drafted at those positions won’t begin to make full impact until late in the year of in 2015.

    – Kiper recently stated that this draft isn’t as loaded as some people think (though, fortunately, he said it is at our positions of need: CB and WR). With that said, and if he’s right, maybe it does make sense to come out of of the draft with a few players we “go all in” on instead of taking all six in the top 100. Maybe we do target one CB and one WR to target, trade up to get them, and then use any remaining picks on depth/competition at other positions.

    – Back to Grant’s question, I don’t think he’s off base in posing it. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re all thrown for a loop and Baalke picks a DT, LB and/or S with our first few picks (if, in fact, we don’t trade up at all). After all, there will be some WR’s and CB’s to be had in round three (Moncrief, Abbrederis, Bryant at WR; McGill, Watkins maybe at CB).

  20. Are the 49ers being deceptive? Absolutely. I’m fine with it. I always get a kick out of Harbaugh’s pre-draft rhetoric like “laying in the weeds and sharpening our knives” and calling Cam Newton “Plutonium Grade Material.” He recently praised Johnny Manziel vision. Did he have his fingers crossed? I think he’s mostly having fun.

    As for “Fact No.1”, if the interviews increased the contract prices for the receivers its time well spent. Anything to exert cap pressure on potential competitors.

    In 2011 the 49ers quietly flew an assistant cross country to work out Bruce Irvin two days before the draft. Was it a ploy to get Seattle to expend a pick and trade up? Was it genuine interest in Irvin? A combination of both? Its all part of the fun.

    1. Baalke mentioned around the time of the combine (I wish I could remember the interview link) sometimes its good to go against the chart. He also mentioned the 49ers might make a big splash this draft (not exact words). Basically hinting they might make a big trade up. I’m not expecting that.

      Baalke likes to win the chart. He might be buttering teams up (like Dallas) with his chart comment so they feel better about getting ripped off. “The mark is the first to rise in defense of the swindler” and its always good to leverage egos like Jerry Jones to the 49ers advantage.

  21. When it comes to the draft, Baalke is a limbless reptile that has no eyelids, a short tail, and strong jaws (a snake). I mean that in a good way……
    Translation: Dude is deviously crafty on draft day.
    Who knows what the hell he’s going to do?

    1. Baalke is crafty and slick when it comes to making trades and deals. But his personality and character sort of remind me of Don Nelson. They like Billy Martin were very good at building a team, but only up to a certain level. They would take a team to where they were a perpetual contender, but their own character flaws kept them from getting over the hump. I see a similar pattern developing in Baalke. They become too focused on the means that took them to where they are and cant make that last adjustment to go the rest of the way.

  22. Attention Scooter
    Major assignment: I’m on a road trip and at a lounge after dinner in La Jolla I’m listening to three boisterous Aussies declaring themselves Seahaks fans and baiting the Chargers fans. Scooter, dude, ya gotta straighten out your compatriots. What the matter with them?!?
    Nah, but as they left I went up and told them I was a Niner fan and I’d see ’em next year. They took it well, made some boasts and we pumped fists. But seriously man, they clearly lack good taste and you need to set them straight.
    Get her done, hahahaha

    1. Tuna – Damn, I was in SD this past weekend with the family at SeaWorld etc… I live 90 miles north of SD though.
      Way to confront those Sickhawk chumps Tuna…..Atta boy.

  23. Hope not…b/c

    Carlos Roger’s decent coverage of the slot…and all the other WE NEED CB HELP-HYPE this blog gets… didn’t:

    1. Throw the pick to Sherman or contribute the CK being the only offense we had..
    2. Loose the Superbowl last year. The goal line offense did…
    3. Loose to the Giants to years ago, the lack of WR productivity did…

    Some supporting facts:
    > the 9ers tried to add depth by signing, B. Edwards, R. Moss, MM
    > Niners drafted a WR in AJJ in the first round. Was never really clear of the role we was going to play, the shift slot or the true #2 option… cause why would you draft a WR in the first round if you didn’t plan on a #2 option at x or z (please don’t get into the bacjk and forth where should they play b/c they play off line and on line depending on a number of reasons)
    > It is clear the Niners need a WR, all the analyst say it. Everyone is now on board.
    > Crabs is a huge risk of leaving next year.

    *** With all that said. I think the Niners draft 2 WRs and 2 CBs plus a CB/S hybrid. I will not predict the first round b/c unless they make a big splash trade (move to 15 or under) to get a WR I think they play the draft game a take BPA and hope the second and third round guys play out.

    1. Also wanted LEFT FIELD comment i missed b/c I was on vaca when Grant posted the article:

      This goes to my CB/S hybrid pick in above comment…
      Trade up back into the end of the second round or early third and reach for…dun dun dun…LAMARCUS JOYNER (dude can play nickle, dime, zone, safety and be instance special teams contributor!!!) He was a play maker in college and will be such in the right situation from day one.

    2. They were clear on the role they wanted him to play he just didn’t have the talent to fit that role. They drafted him as the edge receiver to take the top off the defense. Baalke thought he got a steal which is why he pulled that sealed envelope stunt. The statements made by Baalke right after he was drafted pretty much made their plans for him clear. They missed obvious red flags that indicated that he would never add the muscle and strength necessary to fulfill that role. The idea to play him in the slot was just them trying to find some use for and salvage a mistake.

  24. Grant may be on to something. Kyle Fuller announced that he has had private workouts with the Colts and Panthers and has lined up visits with the Colts, Bears, Bengals, Raiders, Jets and Broncos.

    Read into that what you will, but I think the 49ers’ notable absence from that list makes it obvious that they plan on trading up in the first round to draft Fuller. It’s a fait accompli; we might as well move on to the second round and spend the next month arguing over what Baalke will/should do with those two picks.

        1. Even a broken clock is right twice day. When you have a mountain of bad calls behind you what is one correct one?

  25. Thats what i’ve been saying even before Brown and Rodgers left and Culliver screwed up again. The 9ers will trade back to the early 2nd rd and draft Verrett then trade up in the 2nd to get Jordan Matthews.

    1. I like it. I say splash trade up in the first for a sure fire started or first off the bench… like one can predict in the draft…or as you stated hedge your bets trade back into the second and acquire another pick/s. Then grab a bunch of solid team defining picks for the future. The only thing is we only have so many roster spots and cap. Perhaps we picks for picks in 15’…

      go niners…!!!

    2. This strategy makes sense. And I’ll just assume Baalke wins the draft chart value game, netting some additional later-round or 2015 picks. Verrett and Matthews would be great additions, and two players that could make their presence felt more and more as they learn the system throughout the season.

      In looking further out, with Matthews on board, and if Patton looks solid this year, we can avoid the financial commitment to Crab next year.

  26. The Niners will draft a WR first if the players they are interested in are there. If they are not there, then I am sure they are prepared to draft a CB first. There are no absolutes. A draft requires several alternate plans.

  27. Being linked means little unless they want to draft higher. Not sure if anybody saw the Aldon Smith pick coming so anything is possible.

    I know we are talking WR’s but if we stay where we are at we will have some nice options without moving up with both WR’s and CB’s.

    Most of the boards have good picks at 30 including my favorite – Kony Early, but Kyle Fuller, Jason Verrett, Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin, and Allen Robinson could all be available with this pick.

    Personally, I would rather have a big WR then a 6′ receiver. Just my thoughts but I still like Kony Early with this pick IF he is available. Dude is a stud

      1. Last comment. I do not want us to draft Marqise Lee. No disrespect but I want size and strength like Benjamin. Built for the long-haul

  28. Coach Harbaw…
    in Orlando, Florida…
    in khaki pants/sweat shirt…

    (what did Mrs. Harbaugh #2 tell you, fella…?)
    Miah to Sarah: I tried to warn you.

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