This is what what Trent Baalke said Wednesday morning at the NFL Combine.
Q: What are some of the things you consider when you evaluate wide receivers?
BAALKE: Can they catch the football, probably No.1. They come in all different sizes, as we know. All different speeds. You really try to match that guy up with your quarterback and what your quarterback’s skill sets are. Some teams put a premium on size. Some teams put a premium on speed. There is just a lot of different things you look at, but the ability to catch the ball and make plays probably would be the most significant.
Q: What type of receiver would you say matches best with your quarterback, Colin Kaepernick?
BAALKE: If I said that, I’d be telling you who we’re looking at. Last year we drafted Ellington, a shorter guy. We’ve got Boldin and Crabtree, both of those guys, Stevie Johnson. We’ve got a mix. I think it’s no mystery — we’re looking for guys that can run, get down the field.
Q: How big was it to get Tom Gamble back in the mix and did it surprise you the way that whole thing transpired?
BAALKE: I think everybody knows the way I feel about Tom Gamble, so it’s been a huge benefit to have Tommy back. He’s a heck of a scout, a heck of a football guy.
Q: When he left a couple years ago, I remember you stood up here a little frustrated with the timing of the way it happened. Did it surprise you that this did occur this way?
BAALKE: Good things happen at different times. At that time, Tommy needed to get back. He had a situation with his family that he needed to get back for that I felt was very important to give him that opportunity. It’s just a blessing to have him back.
Q: Jim Harbaugh said last week that it was not a mutual decision for him to leave the 49ers. How would you respond to that?
BAALKE: I have no response to that. Jim has moved on. We’ve moved on. He’s got a heck of a job. We’ve got a new head football coach. We’re trying to get ready for the draft, free agency and the offseason program.
Q: How concerned are you about losing a coach who took you to the NFC Championship three times and the Super Bowl once?
BAALKE: Jim did a heck of a job. He’s a heck of a coach. He’s gone his direction. We’ve gone ours. We feel very good about the direction we’re headed and I’m sure he does as well.
Q: Based on his suggestion, the front office hierarchy forced him out of the organization. Why would they do that?
BAALKE: Once again, he’s moved on, we’ve moved on and I think the important thing for us now is just to look forward, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’ve got three important things coming up. I know that’s where my focus is.
Q: How do you view last year? Was it just a blip on the radar, or did it reveal some chinks in the armor and it’s going to take some work to get back to that level?
BAALKE: Any time you finish 8 and 8 and you’re not in the playoffs, there are things you have to address. We’re in the process of addressing those.
Q: There was a report that Adam Gase would be your head coach if not for a disagreement over who would be his defensive coordinator. Is there any truth to that?
BAALKE: I didn’t read the report, so I’m not real familiar with what you’re talking about. The job for the 49ers was offered to one person and one person only, and that’s Jim Tomsula.
Q: Is there any thing more that your team or NFL teams in general can do when they’re looking at the off-the-field issues of a player, when you’re trying to uncover anything that could come up and be a problem?
BAALKE: I think everybody is addressing that. I don’t want to speak for every team, but I know the process we go through. We try to be as thorough as possible — do as many background checks as we can, talk to as many people as we can, get on the internet and dig as much as we can with all the social media stuff and everything. But I think with the awareness that we were under this year, the attention that it got even more so than prior years, I think every team is examining the approach to it and digging for as much information as they can. But there are a lot of unknowns, and that’s not going to change. And there is a risk-reward to this business, and that’s not going to change.
Q: How do you feel about the future of the development of Colin Kaepernick? Where do you see him?
BAALKE: Colin is working his tail off right now. I think everybody saw the reports. He’s down in Arizona. He’s working hard with Kurt Warner and several other people. We’ve had a little bit of communication through this first part of the break. But I know he’s working awfully hard. He knows what he needs to work on. He’s a very dedicated player, and I’m sure he feels good about the progress he has made up to this point. The only reason you go down there and do the things he is doing is to get better — that’s the mindset. I think he feels comfortable right now with where he’s at. Hopefully that transfers to the field.
Q: What does he need to work on?
BAALKE: That would be a question to need to visit with him on, but I know that what he’s down there working on is all the technique things that go along with the position — footwork, delivery, changing throwing platforms, arm angles, being able to take a little pace off the ball when he needs to take some pace off of it — he’s working on all of that stuff.
Q: What is the challenge in developing and maintaining a working dynamic between a GM and a coach with regards to authority? It seems to work well in Seattle in Green Bay, but it seemed to kind of break down a little bit in San Francisco.
BAALKE: I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment, but as long as you brought it up, it’s no different than any other relationship. You’ve got to work at it daily. There are a lot of tough decisions that have to be made in the positions that we’re in. You have to stay on point and you have to communicate on a daily basis. That’s probably the easier way to keep that relationship the way it needs to be.
Q: But putting it on paper — he’s what I do, here’s what you do — that doesn’t seem to quite work, right? It’s more of a personal thing, right?
BAALKE: I think that’s what relationships are, whether it’s a personal or a professional deal, that’s what a relationship is. It’s day to day. It’s nothing you can put on paper. It’s interaction on a daily basis. I think that’s what we all strive to do. It’s not always easy as we know in this business. All you can do is continue to work on it.
Q: What went wrong for you guys on offense last year and what type of future do you think Greg Roman has in this league as a coach?
BAALKE: I think if you look back on last season — and I’m not one to look back. I’m trying to move forward and we as an organization are trying to move forward. I think Greg is a heck of a football coach. For whatever reason, last year, it just didn’t work. When you look at why, we had injuries. There were other things that were going on. There were a lot of different battles being played out in different ways. I take nothing away from the coaches. They worked their tail ends off. They were in there early. They stayed late. They did everything that was asked of them. So did the players. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.
Q: Then why move on from your coaching staff?
BAALKE: Well, there are a lot of…and once again, to sit here and rehash the whys — I think I’ve stated exactly why. Jim has moved on. He’s got a heck of a job. Head coach at University of Michigan is a heck of a football job. I know that’s something that he always wanted to do. And we’ve moved on as well.
Q: What are the Packers getting in Mike Solari?
BAALKE: A heck of a football coach. He’s an awfully good football coach. Great technician. Great relationship with the players. Works hard. Enthusiastic. I can’t say enough positive things about Coach Solari.
Q: How much do you think Frank Gore has left and is he still a guy you feel strongly about in your plans moving forward?
BAALKE: I’m asked that question all the time. I think I’ve been asked that question for five straight years. Frank is the energizer battery, he just keeps on ticking. The last two games of the season I think you saw what Frank still has left in the tank. Very good football player, and one of the most passionate if not the most passionate football player I’ve ever been around. Still think he’s got it in him? I know he still believes it. I talked to him the other day on the phone and we’re going to do what we can to get him back as a 49er.
Q: Aldon Smith has had some problems. Do you feel like you missed a red flag there that you may on the lookout for now?
BAALKE: Any time a player falls on tough times, you look back and you try to find out and identify did you miss something. And sometimes it isn’t that you missed something, it’s that the new environment that they’re in has created something. But often times it is something that you just didn’t know. That’s not going to change. There are going to be players coming this year that we just aren’t going to know well enough and they’re going to run into some off-season problems or-in season problems, personal problems. We can dig as much as we want, but this is an imperfect science and there are going to be mistakes that are made.
Q: When you quarterback goes to one of these offseason quarterback gurus, is there ever a concern they could get messed up?
BAALKE: I don’t know I would view Kurt Warner as a quarterback guru, and I don’t mean that negatively. To my knowledge, this is really the first one he has taken on. You have to great respect for not only his career but how he conducted himself, how hard he worked. Kurt knows a little something about the game and I think his willingness to share that and pass that on to a young guy like Colin I think is admirable.