Trent Baalke on Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis

SANTA CLARA – 49ers’ general manager Trent Baalke just spoke with 49ers’ beat reporters at Levi’s Stadium. Here are selected quotes.

Q: What’s your impression of Aldon Smith these days?

BAALKE: Aldon’s like any young player, he’s growing up, he’s maturing. You see that with a lot of these guys. Some of them get themselves in a few more situations that you wish they didn’t. If you asked them, I think they’d say the same thing. Really pleased with the way he’s handled things, the way he’s working both personally and professionally. I think he’s doing an outstanding job. He’s always been a great teammate. He’s always had an excellent work ethic. Those are things he’s even stepped up. He’s in his contract year, he’s poised to have a very good year, we expect him to have a very good year. I think he expects himself to have a very good year.

Q: Are you going to be bringing this up before the season or will you let the season ride, in terms of negotiations?

BAALKE: We’re going to work hard to make sure that he remains here. We don’t talk about what we’re doing within negotiations. I think he understands, his agent understands what we would like to do, and we’re going to work hard at it. Now when that gets done, if it gets done during the season, I can’t answer that. He knows where we stand and my understanding is he would love to be here, and we would certainly love to keep him here.

Q: What’s your take on Colin Kaepernick’s offseason work? Do you think he’ll be able to carry over his new mechanics to live games?

BAALKE: The only thing that matters at the end of the day is, are they accurate? It doesn’t matter how it gets there, how it looks, what the release looks like. I remember Aaron Rodgers coming out. Aaron was at Cal, if anybody remembers him, the way he was taught, very high, never drop the ball down, very tight shoulder. One release, one release point, no matter what. Never thought in a million years he would look like Brett Favre in terms of all the different arm angles. Now you watch him, he throws it sideways. So, I guess the point I’m making is, as long as the little things he continues to do allow him to change the arm angles and the trajectory so that every ball doesn’t look the same and every release isn’t the same, that’s what you’re looking for. Now, the only way you get better at it is repetition and repetition under fire, because we could all do it, to a degree, in a one-on-one on air, but then as you build the tempo of the game up, you tend to go into different habits, or old habits. But nobody works harder.

Q: Does touch come with accuracy, or go hand-in-hand, or one have to come before the other?

BAALKE: That’s a better question for (quarterbacks coach Steve) Logan. To throw with touch is different than throwing with velocity. And then, what touch? Is it down-the-field touch? Is it short-pass touches? A lot of times, marrying the scheme to what the quarterback does. Like Aaron Rodgers, nobody in the business gets the ball out as quick as Aaron Rodgers…some guys can’t do that. So that doesn’t mean they can’t play the position. It just means there’s certain things, schematically, you’re not going to ask them to do. And I think that’s an important factor anytime, for any position.”

Q: Vernon Davis shared the other day that he’s had a mindset change over the past year. He had an adviser who was very focused on him getting a new contract. Vernon has separated from that situation and is full speed ahead. Can you sense that from Vernon?

BAALKE: Any time they have anything in their life that’s a distraction, it takes away from their ability to focus. Vernon shared what his distractions were – I don’t need to them. Quite honesty, don’t much about it in terms of his relationship with his advisers. He’s definitely very focused. He wants to be here long-term. He’s a guy that’s had a lot of production here, another guy that’s a very good teammate. I think everyone here would say he’s an excellent member of the community. And it’s been fun to watch. He has always worked here. You saw that last year – Vernon always has been a guy that does extra. When he’s not on the field with the offense he’s over on the side catching balls. He’s stretching. He’s always working. I don’t know that there are many guys who work like that out on the field just nonstop. He has done it his whole career.

Q: You just mentioned Vernon would like to be here long-term. I’m guessing you’re interested in having those discussions with him.

BAALKE: We’re always going to try to keep our own. Sometimes it works. As you’ve seen, sometimes it doesn’t. But Vernon and I have had conversations and we’ll leave it at that. He understands where we are and we certainly understand where he is.

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  1. If kap keep throwing picks at training camp, I will start to worry that’s starting to be a problem and his mechanics looks the same long and loopy.

    1. Throwing picks at camp isn’t a big deal…throwing them in games that matter however is. As long as he’s learning what throws he can get away with and which he cannot in practice then throwing picks can be a good lesson if it helps him avoid making those mistakes when it matters.

      1. genus49…I don’t mean to be contradictory, but one of the greatest sayings in any sport is “You cant play any better than you practice”….If you screw up in practice, …well, you know….

      2. For all the faults people want to lay on Kap, the one thing he doesn’t do often is turn the ball over. He’s been among the lowest in Ints. every year he’s been the starter.

        We are also talking about 1 throw out of many in each practice, and also the fact it is practice where you tend to take more chances than in a game situation. The pick yesterday apparently came on an all out blitz and Kap was trying to get rid of it. In a game situation he likely takes the sack; in practice he tries to complete a pass.

        Everybody needs to chill out and stop drawing conclusions based on a few practices at the beginning of TC. The actual Preaseason games will give us a better idea of how things are progressing without the slants of the writer.

        I’m personally worried a lot more about the Oline, but will also wait to see them in game action before completely panicking. It’s practice man, don’t forget.

        1. Kaep had one of the worst 4th QBR rating last year.

          I recall many a TO that cost the Niners games. Did you already forget the Bears game, the Seahawks game, and yeah the fumble on the one yard line in the Rams game?

          Umm. yeah, I think you did!

            1. Good point about CK’s fumble against the Rams. Except one thing, it wasn’t a fumble. CK, bobbled the ball after the snap, regained control, dove into the pile, the pile went into the end zone, the Rams came out of the back of the pile with the ball and the refs wrongly decided to rule it was a fumble.

        2. Yawn…look who’s back. You have no objectivity and can’t respond to what is said. Not even going to waste my time fan.

          1. Rocket…

            Anytime anyone posts anything negative about Kaep, you come up with a snarky comment…you just accused Fan77 of not having objectivity, and can’t respond to what is being said….is this not the pot calling the kettle black ? As for the fumble, it came out of the back of the pile in someone else’s hand…the call was not overturned…therefore it was a FUMBLE.

            1. Are u new here Oregon? Rocket has responded to “fan” so many times it rridiculous. Thats why he said he’s done wasting time. All of us try to have unbiased ( as possible) analysis of Kap, aside from the few negative Nancy’s here, fan being the leader of course.

              1. Leo….

                No, I am not new here…I came here when MM was just starting. What bothers me is why did Rocket bother to respond at all…the post wasn’t directed toward him…beside, this an opinion blog, and fan 77’s opinion should be just as valid as anyone else’s. As far as your ‘FEW negative Nancys,’ you probably should include me among them …only time will tell who is right….

            2. Oregon,

              As Leo pointed out, I’ve argued with fan many times and it’s pointless to continue doing so. I laid out a pretty clear response as to why people shouldn’t get too worked up by TC Ints, and fan just responds with the usual anti Kap nonsense that has nothing to do with the points that were being made.

              It’s old, tired and I have no interest in responding to it anymore. If that’s snarky to you, so be it.

  2. The Aldon re-sign will be a big decision for Baalke. What would you do?

    A) Extend Aldon before the season ends , gambling that the 2011-2012 Aldon will be the new normal.

    B) Extend him only if he has a very good 2015. Its safer, but the contract will be more expensive.

    1. It takes two to tango. What does Aldon want? IEven if Baalke offer’s him option A) would Aldon have any interest? f he feels strong he could be of the mindset that he’s going to go out and earn the biggest payday he can get. Maybe not, maybe he’s thinking that he’ll reward the team for their patience and give them a home town discount. I think the latter is less likely.

      1. Aldon’s would face a decision alot of top level players do.

        A) Get life security by extending now. Probably for less money compared to waiting till the end of the season, but an injury can end a career at any day.

        B) Gamble. Wait till the season’s over before extending. If its an 18+ sack season without major injuries, teams will have a bidding war to sign you. A huge cash-in.

          1. I don’t have a count. Essentially most players that extend their contracts before they hit the open market or get franchise tagged.

            As long as “Probably for less money” isn’t drastically less money.

          2. I don’t think you tend to see a lot of top shelf players take the safe contract. Most of them are pretty secure in their abilities even when they shouldn’t be and Aldon is sounding pretty confident heading into this season. I doubt there is little chance he’s looking to put pen to paper on a safe deal that doesn’t make him one of the highest paid pass rushers in the league.

            I’m sure once the season starts if Aldon is playing well that Baalke will try his darndest to get Smith to sign an extension but I don’t expect that to happen.

            1. Agree. If Aldon’s having a great season, he’d be nuts to extend mid season.

              Ndamukong Suh hit the open market and got a massive contract. Russell Wilson extended and got a pretty nice contract.

              Lots of variables to consider… current teams salary cap, anticipated 2016 demand for players at your position, how proprietary are the players skills (edge rushers can get work anywhere… system QBs maybe not) and so on.

      1. From Baalke’s Perspective – Make two offers. One with a large overall contract offer that’s laced with performance and behavioral de-escalators. The other a much smaller contract offer, but more guaranteed money.

        Either way, have a fixed limit based on what Aldon’s value is toward winning. Don’t go above it.

        From Aldon’s Perspective – Depends on the cash offered. If Baalke offered 85-90% of better than what’s anticipated on the open market (with an acceptable level of guaranteed money), go for it. The odds of getting a hosed ACL sometime in the next 16 games is too high to risk for another 10-15% more cash.

        (Naturally percentage values are arbitrary. I have no idea what the normal, customary variation is with early extensions vs open market).

        1. I think any contract they offer him will have a number of potential de-escalators in it. Recent history with the Kaep and Brooks contracts suggests this is what they will look to do.

          1. I agree. CK’s contract set a precedent. And Aldon already agreed with performance clauses in this years contract last spring. If there’s an extension, it might be laced with similar language.

            There’s always the possibility an impulsive team will offer Aldon a contract with fewer (if any) de-escalators. All it takes is 1 out of 31 GMs with stars in his eyes to dangle a huge signing bonus in front of Mr. Smith.

            (I forgot, there’s also the Franchise Tag option)

    2. At the end of the day the 49ers will be able to cope with the franchise tag for Aldon in 2016 if they can’t get a long term deal in place before the end of the season. If he has a very good year and stays out of trouble, I think they’ll wait, franchise him, then sign him to a long term deal.

      If he has a less than stellar year they’ll probably just offer him a decent contract, but below what he can get elsewhere and just let him walk if he wants to.

      If he gets himself in trouble again they’ll probably just cut him (if during the season) or let him go if at the end of the year.

      Regardless, I think the plan will be to wait and see.

      1. That’ll be a number(franchise tag) in the 14M dollar range. Not ruling it out but that’s still a big number.

        1. According to spotrac the 2015 49ers entire group of outside linebackers has a cap hit 14.8 million dollars. I’m not sure how the cap hit works on the FT but if they didn’t sign him to an extension and the entire amount is on the books then you have one player making almost what the entire group did the season before.

        2. With the raft of retirements and players they lost this off-season they are going to be able to fit that within the salary cap pretty easily. The plan wouldn’t be to have him play under the FT, but to use it as a negotiating tool. Keep the exclusive negotiating rights, prevent another team from tempting him with a better offer.

          1. Knowing the cap space right now is difficult for me but I’m sure there is a good estimate available. Knowing what it will be for the 2016 roster seems to me to be tricky. Are you assuming they will use a large carry over to boost 2016?

            1. No. though they will likely have some of that too. The main thing is they have lost the 2016 salary cap hits of Patrick Willis and Ray McDonald, and most of Anthony Davis (though they will still have some dead money carry over next year). That is a lot of money off the books.

              As it currently stands they have $124.5M against the 2016 cap. There are also possible de-escalators for Kaep and Brooks. The 2015 salary cap is $143.28M, and likely to rise again next year. And next off-season would typically be the off-season for teams to be re-signing their 2012 draft class… of which the 49ers only have one remaining member (Looney), so they won’t be splashing money on those guys.

              Key pending FAs are Aldon, Vernon, Boone, Ian Williams and Wilhoite. They have a bunch of young TEs so Vernon probably won’t be a priority. They never give big money for OGs. And Ian Williams and Wilhoite are unlikely to command significant money. So the team should have little problem footing a $15M franchise tag for a few months until a long term deal for Aldon can be hammered out.

          2. I understand the plan but waht if the plan doesn’t work and they can’t sign him then that entire amount would be on the books for just one season. it’s not always a matter of IF they can fit it in but should they. Sure with retirement and increased cap space there will probably be room but again your tying so much money up in one player that could just end up being gone the next year that’s a lot of faith that Parag and baalke can get a deal done. Waht if Aldon then goes out and has a second huge year his price tag is not going to come down in negotiations

            1. If Lynch has another strong year and Harold emerges as a legitimate pass prospect that will make baalke far less likely to be willing to negotiate top dollar with Aldon.

              1. If Aldon has 20 sacks like some predict, he will be worth every penny they give him. 1400 million pennies.

            2. As rocket said below, if he has a great year this year he should and will command top dollar. Premier players cost money. Baalke knows this, and he’s shown with the contracts paid to the likes of Kaep, Willis, Bowman and Vernon (at the time of signing their respective deals) the team is willing to pay top dollar for premier talent, at positions they consider important ones.

              1. The play of Harold/Lynch and possibly Lemonier will factor into these negotiations and the decision to apply the tag. Even if Aldon kills it, if his subordinate shows budding equal talent then Baalke could decide to let Smith leave while he gets similar(i know that’s saying a lot if Aldon is in prime form) or close to it production for pennies on the dollar.

                There are a lot of if’s in there but it will probably come down to more then just Aldon’s performance on the field whether or not he gets paid.

              2. Sure, but if we assume Aldon will see the majority of snaps at ROLB (base)/ RDE (nickel), and if he does indeed have a stellar year, it is hard to imagine any of the other guys also proving themselves as a premier edge rushers this year. Promising guys, sure, but unlikely to be proven premier players.

                Keep in mind I am only saying the scenario of franchising him would be their likely best option if he has a stellar year. If he doesn’t then sure, the play of the guys behind him will go a very long way to determining what they do with him.

              3. I’m not sure we’re even disagreeing anymore. Each time you write something I feel like I’ve said the same thing or something similar somewhere before in the discussion already. That’s not meant as a negative but to point out that I think we’re making the same argument at this point.


              4. Haha, yeah, you’ll be shocked to hear I have been told before that I have a tendency to argue just for the sake of arguing… even on topics in which everyone is in agreement!

      2. Aldon Smith will be a tough call because of the money, but if he has a big year, I don’t think they have much of a choice but to franchise and/or re-sign him. Brooks is aging, and Lynch and the rookies are unproven. If somebody else has a great year along the same lines as Aldon, then it gives the Niners some leverage, but we are talking about somebody who set a record for most sacks in his first two seasons here. You have to pay a premium to pass rushers who put up those kind of numbers.

        1. There’s no keeping Brooks and Aldon. Half of that 2015 14.8 cap hit is Brooks’s 7 million. If they plan on keeping Aldon that means they plan on not keeping Brooks.

  3. The reality is that it is a business. Many Niners have left for a bigger payday. Baalke will not over spend. Just be resigned to know that other teams will throw money at him.
    Look at the problems the Seahawks have. 7 players take up a big portion of the salary cap.
    The best way to keep Aldon is to win, so he wants to stay with a winner. They will have to pay him, but maybe he will take less to stay in this system because they have SB aspirations every year.

  4. The niners stood by him when he was in rehab AND they paid him full salary all the while. I know cash is king for pending free agents, but I hope that gesture counts for something in Aldon’s decision making process.

    1. This is surprising if for no other reason than there is not a lot of depth and it’s the beginning of camp. They must need the roster space to address another position.

      1. I don’t know. They were willing to lose $650,000 on the guy, and they knew what they had in him. Might simply suggest they think all the others are ahead of him and he’s unlikely to change the equation.

  5. Lots of great Aldon Smith contract info from CFC, Scooter, Rocket, HT, Seb and all. There isn’t a single choice (extend, wait, franchise tag) that isn’t a risk.

    Aldon is a historically good pass rusher 2011-2012, that rounded out nicely into a complete OLB.

    Justin Smith’s TE stunts were a great help, but Aldon badly hurt his shoulder in that same Pats game Justin got injured. That made it look like Aldon was almost totally dependent on Justin for sacks.

    If it was all Justin, why didn’t Haralson threaten sack records?

    Healthy mind and body, Aldon’s an elite player with a skill set vital for winning. The 49ers defense is heavily capitalized as a 3-4 and will remain so for years. Aldon’s an ideal fit.

    A few years ago alot of us (including me) were forgiving of Baalke for allowing players like Delaney Walker go. We knew cap space had to be accumulated to retain core players Iupati, A. Davis, Crabtree, Aldon and so on. We knew it was impossible to re-sign all of them.

    Alot of talent was allowed to walk to accumulate cap space. When Miller went down in 2013, Walker’s H-Back blocking would have been big help. The NFCCG might have gone down differently.

    Assuming Baalke lets VD go, Aldon’s the only one left from that 2013 core player list.

    – If not for Aldon, who were we making cap space for?
    – Will Aldon resume/improve on his 2011-2012 pass rush form?
    – Will another team offer Aldon a contract without performance/behavior de-escalators?
    – Will a franchise tag inspire Aldon to play 2016 like it was another contract season? (Two contract seasons are alot of productivity)

    1. Aldon kinda snuck up on everyone. he did not even start, but he was averaging a sack a game. He is the real deal, and Cowboy helped, but Aldon has quickness and is pretty unstoppable. At least, that is what I gather from the TC chatter.
      Pay da man. Lock him up. He has led an exemplary life since his fall, so he is trying hard to maintain his good behavior. I hope he succeeds, but he will be tempted every day, and it is so easy to slip up. With the right support group, he will walk away from the wild side and become a great 49er and a better human being. Tomsula will help because he cares deeply for the well being of Aldon. I hope he convinces Baalke to tender him a fair contract for both sides.

      1. I like B2W’s suggestion that there should be 2 different offers, one with more guaranteed money.
        Then let Aldon decide.

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