Trent Baalke spoke with Bay Area reporters Wednesday morning. Here are most of the quotes from that press conference.
Q: What is Colin Kaepernick able to do at this point?
BAALKE: Mostly mental. There’s really nothing physical he’s doing right now. He’s rehabbing, and that seems to be progressing really well. And he’s doing some – I haven’t been out there – but my understanding is he’s doing some drops and stuff like that. Mimicking the play as it goes on, and just kind of getting a feel for the offense, the timing, the rhythm of it. He’s not able to do anything much more than that.
Q: What is Kaepernick’s status?
BAALKE: Same thing it was when we talked in February at the Combine. Nothing has changed. We said at the Combine our intention was to have him on this roster. He still is on this roster. A lot of reports have been out there surfacing, most of it not factual. But, I can’t control that or we can’t control that.
Q: Why do you think he or his agents have requested a trade?
BAALKE: Once again, that’s a better question to ask them than me. I can’t speak for them on that.
Q: How comfortable are you with having a player on your roster going into the season who you’ve given permission to meet with other teams, who has been to John Elway’s house. Do you want him on your team if he is actively trying to leave?
BAALKE: I think you have to know all of the circumstances that go into it, and I’m not going to get into all the hypotheticals and circumstances surrounding it. I have maintainted since Day 1, as has the head coach, would love to get him out there and work within this system with this coaching staff – that has not changed. Said that in February, and here were are today and still saying the same things.
Q: Does that mean he’s off the trade market and you’re not going to trade him?
BAALKE: That, as I’ve told you before, you never say never in this business. That gets you in trouble. I’m not going to do that. I wouldn’t do that about any player on our roster. Every day leading up to this draft, things change daily. Heck, they change by the minute right now within rosters. I can’t predict the future.
Q: But you don’t have to trade him. Why not just say, “He’s going to be on our roster. He’s a quarterback on our team.”?
BAALKE: Just as I said, I wouldn’t say that about any player on our roster at this stage, why would I say it about him? It’s a blanket statement for everybody. You can’t predict the future. You don’t know when the phone is going to ring and what it’s going to involve, whether it’s the quarterback, whether it’s the defensive lineman, whether it’s the running back – it’s doesn’t matter. You can’t predict the future.
Q: Having a quarterback on the roster who wants to leave, that’s OK with you?
BAALKE: I don’t think you’ve ever seen that quoted by Colin. I think you’ve speculated based on what the agent has asked for. I don’t think Colin has ever come out and said that publicly, to my knowledge. If he has, I haven’t seen it.
Q: Have you spoken to him?
BAALKE: Not since he has been back, no.
Q: Why not.
BAALKE: Well, I haven’t spoken to probably 85 percent of the guys. At 7 a.m., I go into the draft room. I leave at 7 p.m. from the draft room. I haven’t even been on the field yet.
Q: You’re saying that his agent asking for a trade and Colin meeting with John Elway doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t want to be on the team?
BAALKE: I can’t get into what his feelings are. I have not addressed it directly with Colin. That is just not something that we have done at this point. I stand by the comments that I made in February when everybody was speculating that he was gone for sure. We said then he was going to be on this roster as of April 1. It’s April 20 and he’s still here. You can ask me the question 100 different ways, I’m going to give you the same response. Right now, he’s out there, he’s practicing, he’s doing good in his rehab, that seems to be progressing well, he’s going to all of the meetings, he’s very into it, he’s very attentive, he’s working hard, the coaches are excited about it, just as they are getting a chance to work with all of these guys, and there’s really nothing else to report. That’s what it is.
Q: He still has the permission to talk to other teams?
BAALKE: I’m not going to get into where that sits at this time. They were given permission to talk. What we’ve done since then is going to stay in house relative to what we’re allowing any of our players to do at this time.
Q: You guys have a lot of options to look over for the next week in terms of trade possibilities, drafting quarterbacks – what do you like about all of those situations that you can sift through?
BAALKE: I’m having a hard time sifting through them. They’re moving by the minute. But, you can’t predict what 31 other teams are going to do. You can gather information and try to get the best grasp on what is going to happen. If I knew exactly what was going to happen on draft day, I certainly wouldn’t be doing this. I would be in Vegas winning a lot of money.
Q: Did you anticipate the Rams moving up to No. 1?
BAALKE: I wouldn’t say we didn’t anticipate it. That had been rumored for some time that they were going to make a strong move. You hear about it, but a lot is said every year that doesn’t happen. I would expect someone as we speak is working on moving up to 2.
Q: What’s your feeling on moving up to 2? From where you are at 7, is that too much that you’d have to give up to get up to 2?
BAALKE: What competitive advantage would I have in telling you what I’m thinking right now?
Q: If you’re not going there, it doesn’t matter.
BAALKE: It does matter. Everything matters right now.
Q: You’ve mentioned you could have traded of for Odell Beckham Jr., but look at all of the picks you would have had to give up, and that’s just not your philosophy to give up multiple high picks. Is that still your philosophy? Will that be generally how you approach this?
BAALKE: Yeah, I think that’s fair. You look at history and what has happened with moves of that nature…There is risk in every decision that we make. I don’t care if you’re picking No. 1 overall or you’re picking seventh or your picking 33rd – no matter who you take, there is some form of risk. Some riskier than others, some with better potential outcomes than others, but you’re taking 19, 20, 21-year-old guys, throwing them into an NFL environment, paying them lots of money – there’s a lot of unknowns that go with that. As good as college football is, it probably has never been more different than the pro game is today.
Q: Is Colin Kaepernick an asset to you so maybe you don’t have to give up multiple picks? A quarterback that you can package with a pick?
BAALKE: I don’t think we’re looking to…We’ve got two darn good quarterbacks that we feel good about. I don’t know Thad (Lewis) well enough – Coach is high on Thad. Dylan (Thompson) has come in and done a nice job. I think there is a lot of speculation that we’re panicked and need to do something. I don’t look at it that way. I feel good about the guys on our roster. Feel like we can go win some games. Kap has won a lot of games in the NFL. Blaine finished the year strong. Once again, the two younger guys are battling, trying to get better every day. I’m not looking at it that way – packaging one of our quarterbacks. We’re going to keep progressing and building this team the best we can through the draft right now. Free agency is over. Once the draft is over, then we’ve got college free agency. Once we get done with that, then the team will be as close to set in terms of the 90 as it’s going to be.
Q: How likely is it that you would end up drafting a quarterback in the first or second round this year?
BAALKE: I wouldn’t want to put a percentage on it. We’re certainly not out of the market, if that helps. That’s about as much as I can say.
Q: Well you looked at some quarterbacks, clearly.
BAALKE: We’ve looked hard at all of these quarterbacks in this draft. There are some guys that have a chance. I’m not going to sit here and say there are 10 guys that are definite NFL starters – you don’t know that. There may be none, and there may be five or six or seven. You can’t predict who will come out of this and develop into great NFL quarterbacks, but there are guys that show the skillsets to certainly do that.
Q: Many fans were upset that you weren’t more proactive in free agency. Was that just the way things played out, or was that the plan going into free agency?
BAALKE: I wouldn’t say it was the plan going into free agency. As you know, we’ve never been huge believers in the opening market of free agency, because let’s face it, no matter who you take on the open market, you’re overpaying them. History proves that 90-plus percent of the guys who enter free agency have never made a Pro Bowl, 90-plus percent of the ones that get signed as free agents never make the Pro Bowl. So, you’ve got a less-than-10-percent chance of hitting on a Pro-Bowl caliber player, yet you’re paying him at the top or the market. It’s like buying a stock at its high.
Q: How much adjustment have you and your scouts had to make with your draft board based on the things Chip Kelly does that are different than maybe you’ve done in the past.
BAALKE: That’s a good question. I think I said this the last time we all got together – through the process of meeting with Coach and knowing him from his days up at Oregon – people forget he wants to run the football. His offense is based on running the football and running the football well. The last couple of years at Oregon he had some smaller backs, but you’ve got to look deeper into that. He had what he had at that time, but he also had Jonathan Stewart, and…who was that other guy?
Q: LeGarrette Blount?
BAALKE: LeGarrette Blount. I’m talking big backs. Big, power backs that ran well between the tackles. He wants to run the football. He wants to play a physical style of offense, which then opens up the passing game. Our philosophies on personnel match up very well. If you look at the defense he tried to build in Oregon with the big 4-techniques and the bigger-bodied, longer-armed guys. A lot of the things that we have done here from a personnel standpoint and an evaluation standpoint fit very well into what he’s looking for in building his teams.
Q: Is it an over-exaggeration that Chip Kelly wants running quarterbacks, or do you still think that fits what he’s looking for in a quarterback?
BAALKE: Those are questions that I think are better asked of Coach. But, I think what you can see from history is that he has done a very good job of working with that position and the limitations that the individual that he’s got behind center may or may not have. When he had Marcus Mariota, they ran the ball a little bit more with the quarterback position. In the NFL, he hasn’t had that. Nick Foles had an unbelievable season under him – 20-plus touchdowns, just a couple interceptions. Hardly ever ran the football. I think he has proven he can do it a bunch of different ways with a bunch of different styles of quarterbacks behind center. Ideally would you like a guy that can run and have some mobility? Yes. I think ideally. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sam Bradford couldn’t run. Nick Foles isn’t a runner. And they had a lot of success with his system. So did Sanchez.
Q: Before I ask my question, the Eagles traded for the No. 2 pick just now.
BAALKE: Perfect. What did I say? I said within 24 hours and I was wrong. It was within 24 minutes. I said within 24 hours, Philly will have the pick.
Q: Now that the No. 2 pick is off the table…
BAALKE: No, I’m not trading up to No. 2.
Q: Did you guys have conversations with the Browns about that?
BAALKE: What competitive advantage would I have in giving you that information?
Q: It doesn’t matter.
BAALKE: It may matter. It may give somebody a little idea of what we may be thinking.
Q: You have drafted a lot of injured players and most haven’t panned out. Does that make you leery of drafting more injured players?
BAALKE: The short answer to that – no. You don’t look at it and say we’re going to change the way we think. I think you have to look at some of those why we did it. When you have 12 and 13 picks, they’re not all going to make your roster. So to layer it and take a chance on a guy that’s very talented, that’s got more of an upside than some of the other guys, I don’t know that that’s something that I’ll veer away from moving forward. We’ve got 12 picks again, and you’re not going to have 12 draft picks make your team. Will we look to that if we feel the value is right? I think Tank Carradine is going to have a very good season this year, I really do. Brandon Thomas, we’ll see where he’s at with the new system, the new offense. Keith Reaser, I think he showed last year at times when he got into the game, which he didn’t get into many games, that he’s more than capable. Smelter right now. Smelter – knock on wood – looks very good. So, there is value. Has it always panned out? No. But, you go into it knowing they’re not all going to pan out.
Q: Where do things stand with Anthony Davis?
BAALKE: As of right now, to my knowledge he hasn’t applied for reinstatement, so there’s nothing to update you on.
Q: He mentioned that speaking with you, or some person named Trent…
BAALKE: Gave him a headache? It’s like me speaking to you – it gives me a headache.
Q: What is he referring to?
BAALKE: I’m not going to get into our conversations with the media. We’ve had several text messages back and forth and that’s the extent of the conversation.
Q: Are there any offensive tackles that really have your eye right now, a top-2-round guy?
BAALKE: Oh, yeah. This is a good draft for offensive tackles. I think that there’s some depth throughout the draft at that position. There are some guys that you can consider Day-1-starter type guys. So, I think it is a draft where there is some area to improve at that position at different levels of the draft.
Q: What’s your mindset now than L.A. and Philly have traded up for the top two picks?
BAALKE: We can’t predict what the other teams are going to do. All we can do is worry about our board. We have felt all along that quarterbacks were going to go 1, 2. So, this isn’t something that really took us by surprise. Felt for some time dating back to February that this could likely be the outcome. So, now you worry about the next four picks in front of you. You have a group of guys that you have graded and valued, and you let the chips fall where they may. You may make a move up. We’ve done it before. We did it to go get Anthony Davis. Would we do it again? Wouldn’t rule it out. Could we trade back? Certainly could.
Q: How do you know if a pass-rusher can play outside linebacker in your system?
BAALKE: I think the one thing we’ve been pretty good at is finding outside linebackers. I think we understand the position, what we’re looking for at that position. Any time you’re transitioning a forward-moving player to outside linebacker, there’s a chance that it doesn’t pan out. One thing, though – 3-4, 4-3 personnel, we’re a 4-3 team 70 percent of the snaps. That’s what people have to understand. Sixty-eight percent of the snaps are in Nickel, and when you’re in Nickel, you’re a four-man-front team. They’re defensive ends for the most part. And when they are standing up, their No. 1 job is to rush the passer, their No. 2 job is to set the edge and their third job – and it’s the least…can they function at it? – is to drop into a short area in space and occupy it. And really, all you have to teach them then is the formation and where you want them to establish position.
Q: What have you learned about Tank Carradine?
BAALKE: I think with Tank, Tank is a defensive end. He is a 5-technique, slide him into 3-technique, hand in the dirt, rush the passer. We’ve talked with the new staff extensively on Tank. Tank is down to 273 I think, somewhere in that neighborhood. We had gotten Tank up way too heavy. He was up to 295, 296 pounds trying to play 4-technique, and it didn’t fit his skillset. So, we backed him off and got him down. Yesterday, he won several of the bag drills out there, the competition that they’re doing. Lighter than he has been since college. Got more speed, more quickness than he’s had since college. Getting these guys back into the role that you envision when you draft them.
Q: Whose fault is that? Is that a situation where the scouting department and the coaching staff weren’t meshing?
BAALKE: No, I think we just didn’t identify soon enough once we got him healthy that the 4-technique probably wasn’t the best fit for him. There is no blame to put on anybody. I’m certainly not blaming the coaches for that. You bring guys in, you have a vision. We thought at the time he could do a little of both – learn to play 4-technique, and it just didn’t work. But don’t read that the wrong way. That’s not on the coaches or miscommunication. It’s just the way it played out. Had a vision. Maybe it wasn’t the ideal vision for him. So if we messed up on that, that’s on me.
Q: You said you felt all along that the QBs would go 1 and 2 in this draft. Is that…
BAALKE: I felt there was a possibility. Let’s…
Q: That’s not quite the quote you used…
BAALKE: No, that IS the quote I used.
Q: No, I wrote it down.
BAALKE: I’m about ready to hammer you.
Q: Is that because of the quality of those two guys, or…
BAALKE: I forgot the question now. Get to the question.
Q: I’ve been interrupted like six times!
Q: Is it because of those two guys or just the nature of that position where these are going to be much cheaper guys because they’re rookies than you could get, as you noted, in free agency.
BAALKE: I don’t think anyone is moving up that drastically to take someone No. 1 just because they’re cheaper than the other options. I don’ think that’s the case. With Philly moving up, who are they moving up for? Are we sure they’re moving up for a quarterback? I think there’s a good chance, but they’ve also just signed Bradford, they’ve just signed Daniels…All I do know is that we did feel as a scouting department that there was a possibility that that was going to happen. When you asked me that question, no, it didn’t catch me totally off guard. I am surprised that the moves are being made so soon, but obviously they felt the need to get them done.
Q: Brian Baldinger reported you and Chip Kelly already are having conflict. Is that true?
BAALKE: I can tell you emphatically that that is total B.S. That’s all I can say. We’ve had absolutely a wonderful start to this relationship, and there really is nothing else to say. He’s coaching ball, and we’re up there in the draft room going to work. So where Baldy got that from, what his angle was, it’s ridiculous. And you can quote me on that.