This is the transcript of Trent Baalke informal group press conference, courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers P.R. department.
A year ago you said, ‘We’re not in rebuild mode, we’re in reload mode.’ What about now? Are you in reload mode or rebuild mode? You can do this.
“I think I’ve answered this before.”
Answer it now.
“Well, I don’t think anybody will admit in the National Football League that they are in rebuild mode. I think we’ve got a lot of nice young pieces, guys who have a lot of experience, several veteran guys, key veteran guys coming back. We’ve got a lot of ammunition over the next several months to improve this football team via free agency, the draft. So, I like where this team is, but we have a lot of work to do.”
You said a couple of times that you and Chip have similar visions. The success that this team has had recently with a real ball control offense and a really good defense, he seems to be the opposite of that in a lot of ways. So, what is the similar vision that you’re talking about and does his sort of his offensive philosophy jive with what you have done in that past here?
“I wouldn’t say Matt [Barrows] that his philosophy is any different. He likes to run the football. He likes to use play action off of that and he certainly has shown the ability to pass the football as well. So, he’s going to compete on all three levels on the offensive side. And, on the defensive side I think he answered that question very well. He likes to play defense and a lot of the defense you’re able to play is based on personnel, as he mentioned situational football. I haven’t gone in depth and studied Philadelphia versus us. We’ve had a philosophy around here that’s worked and I don’t see it any different. There may be different wrinkles in how we go about it, but he likes to run the football and he wants a defense that can stop the run.”
What’s the likelihood that you will draft a quarterback in the first round?
“I’m not even going to speculate on that. There’s a lot of meetings to take place long before we get to that point.”
Do you expect this roster to be dramatically different? Given that you have a new head coach, a new system, young guys with a lot of room in free agency, and a lot of draft picks. Do you expect a drastic change in the 53?
“Well, when you say drastic or dramatic, a lot of it depends on the guys that we get in free agency and obviously the guys that we draft. Are they good enough? You go into it with that idea. You’ve got 12 new draft picks with the possibility of adding ‘X’ number of guys in free agency. But, that’s the NFL. That’s the way it is. You’re going to roll your roster over. There’s going to be 15-20 new faces or more every year. That’s the way it is.”
Would you like more than the average in terms of turnover. Would you like to see sort of a restructure or reshuffling beyond the normal?
“I think we have a number of good players in that locker room and it’s going to be up to the guys coming in to displace them. They’re not just going to give up their jobs. A lot of those guys in that locker room, if not all of those guys in that locker room, fit the identity that [San Francisco 49ers head coach] Chip [Kelly] and I envision. That’s one of the reasons this came together the way it did.”
But, when you talk about the running game that he likes to run as well, RB Carlos Hyde’s health status and durability, is that an issue going forward right now?
“I don’t think so. In fact, Carlos was around the building yesterday, feels good. Rehab is going extremely well. Nobody can predict the future as far as injury goes. But, he’s been durable and he got injured last year. [Former San Francisco 49ers RB and current Indianapolis Colts RB] Frank Gore was injured multiple times in his college career and several times as an NFL player, but durability overall has been excellent, and we feel that Carlos can have that type of health moving forward as well.”
How do you feel Carlos’ style, running style, kind of meshes with what Chip likes to do in the running game?
“I think excellent. If you look at the system he came out of in Ohio State, ran a lot of the same plays that coach runs and has run both at Philadelphia and Oregon.”
Is Colin’s style congruent with what Chip Kelly wants to do?
“Well, I think he answered that in there. Colin played at a very similar situation at the college level, so the answer there would be yes.”
I’m a little confused, because with the April 1st and the 4th, what can you do before having to make a decision before the 1st? Or do you just rely on trainers and physicals to make sure he’s okay?
“Everybody is talking about this April 1st deadline. There’s no deadline on April 1st that we’re concerned of. The number one thing is getting Kap healthy. Once we get him healthy we get him into the offseason program, we get rolling. We haven’t even had a chance to sit down.”
I know, I just don’t know what you can do.
“You can’t do anything football-wise. All you can do is check on these guys. There’s a number of guys that are in a similar situation to Kap, that got injured somewhere during the season: [DL] Glenn Dorsey, Carlos Hyde. All we’re doing is monitoring their health and hoping we can get them ready for the offseason programming.”
This is perceived as a big money decision for you guys, that day with Colin. Is the franchise committed to paying him that much money for next season, if you do make that choice?
“Mark [Purdy], we signed the contract for a reason. We’re not worried about the financial part of it at this point. What we’re worried about is getting him healthy and ready to compete.”
ME: Who will conduct his physical on April 1st?
“Well, the team conducts the physical. The team conducts the physical. He’s working in Vail, I believe it’s Vail, Colorado right now. He’ll be coming back periodically to do his check-ins like all our players do that leave in the offseason. We’ll monitor him no differently than we do any of the other players.”
To make a quick turnaround next season or is the process more likely to be longer than that based on your talent level right now?
“I believe what Chip said. We’re not in the prediction business. We’re going to go into work every day. Every day is a chance to get better. We’re doing the same thing right now. We’ve got to get a staff together. Every day we add a guy, that’s a day we got better. We’ll go into the offseason with the same mindset in terms of the player acquisitions. We get out there in the fall, we roll out the ball and we see where we go.”
Well, if I’m a 49ers fan, why do I buy a ticket for next year?
“Because this is an exciting time, you’ve got an aggressive head coach that knows offensive football and knows defense, like I said on the podium, he’s well rounded. Research his background, he’s been on the defensive side, he’s been on special teams and he’s certainly been a very successful offensive coach for a long time. I think the guys are excited. The players are excited and there’s going to be a lot of new energy around here.”
There’s been stuff about Chip Kelly and race, black players not liking him. Is there any concern that you won’t be able to get the players you want because he’s here?
“No, once again, perception and reality, you look at all the success he had at Oregon, you look at the success he had there. I can’t get into individual reports by certain players because I wasn’t a part of that and I have no real understanding of what their thought patterns were. But, I do know this, he’s a very respected coach by a lot of people, regardless of race. And, I have no doubt he’s going to be a very effective coach for the San Francisco 49ers.”
Do you anticipate having any African Americans on your coaching staff?
“Absolutely. That’s a bizarre question.”
You have a guy in DL Arik Armstead who played for Chip. Did you talk to him about playing under Chip? Did that kind of aleve any concerns about him?
“I visited with a lot of people. I’m certainly not going to get into everybody we visited with. But, when Arik was there, you’ve got to remember Arik was a young guy. He was a rookie, a freshman. So, the Arik Armstead he’s going to see now, in fact the D-Line coach said, ‘Woah. Has this guy changed!’ Right? From the time he was a young pup until now. Everybody changes, so I know Chip’s looking forward to coaching him again.”
Did Carlos have surgery?
“Yeah, he had a procedure done.”
Do you know when?
“Right towards the end of the season. I don’t know the exact date, but right towards the end of the season.”
Is he expected to be fine for the start of the offseason program?
“He should be all good to go. Now once again, we are going to defer to the medical staff on that, but his health looks good right now. He’s progressing well. He’s rehabbing hard and it’s something that if everything goes well, should clear up in time for the offseason program.”
How concerned were you about the reports that Chip lacked people skills and that lead to his departure?
“You saw him today. You saw the same guy that I sat on his couch and Jed and I sat in his living room and talked to. I have no doubt that he has the people skills to be successful in this business.”