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.