The 49ers will draft according to best-player available. The 49ers will also draft for need. The two philosophies are actually intertwined.
Director of player personnel Trent Baalke said today the 49ers’ draft board is “about 95-percent done.” They will follow their draft board to take the best players available during the NFL draft, which begins next Thursday. Their draft board places priority on the best-available players – but it’s best-available for the 49ers’ wants and needs.
It’s been asked in the past what if the 49ers look at their draft board and the player rated the highest when it’s their turn to pick is a quarterback? OK, maybe that’s a bad example because there are many who think the 49ers are in need of a quarterback. (Today, Baalke declined to rule out the possibility the 49ers could take a quarterback in the first round. But he prefaced that remark by saying “Alex Smith is our quarterback” and the organization has “total confidence” in him.)
Let’s just say that the 49ers would not stack their board in a way that they would be forced to take a player they don’t want to select at a certain point in the draft. The 49ers’ draft board is uniquely its own. Think of it this way: The Rams might take quarterback Sam Bradford with the No. 1 overall pick. But
“If you were able to take a snap shot of all 32 boards prior to draft, you’d see 32 different rankings,” Baalke said. “And some completely different, based not only on your system but the value you place on players. That what makes it a very unique process.’
Baalke said the 49ers’ board is not completely set because the scouts have yet to meet with the coaches. By Tuesday evening, the board will be completed.
“Coaches will evaluate and rate the players at their positions, not only in terms of their ability but how they fit within the scheme that we run,” he said.
He added, “That’s the only way you can build a team is to know exactly what the system it is you’re running and the kind of players that fit that system. Then, you have to take every opportunity to get those types of players.”
I asked Baalke if that was part of the process of escaping on a three-day scouting trip with coach Mike Singletary. Baalke had just take over the lead role in the 49ers’ personnel department after the club and general manager Scot McCloughan parted ways.
“Our system hasn’t changed. Our defensive system is the same; our offensive system is the same; the coordinators are the same,” Baake said. “So the types of players we’re looking for at each position haven’t changed. Mike going off with me had nothing to do with the systems or the players we’re looking for. It was for him to get acquainted with some of the players on our board and take a further look at.”
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