USA TODAY Sports
Hey, here's more of a chance to learn more about the teams that Seattle must defeat in order to 'own the West' next year. After losing in this year's Super Bowl, the Niners, sans top personnel man Tom Gamble, look to regroup and shore up any issues they had last season. These interviews came late last week, but now that I've got access to transcripts, you might want to give them a read.
49ers general manager Trent Baalke
Transcriber: Matt Barrows, Sacramento Bee
On whether Colin Kaepernick's success means there will be more mobile QBs in the league.
TB: I think teams are paying more attention to it obviously, but I have no idea. I'm not going to try to guess what 31 other teams are doing. But he certainly puts a little bit more pressure on the defense.
On whether the read-option will stick around longer than the "Wildcat"
TB: I think that certainly, once again, it stresses the defense. The more that person can do, the more stress it puts on. Peyton Manning puts a lot of stress on defenses, too. So you've got to meet the skill sets of your quarterback. As long as you do that, I think you've got a chance.
Did Colin seem franchise-caliber when you were scouting him in 2011?
TB: Well, it's a lot easier to sit up here after a young man's had success and say, yes, you pictured that. But there's a
lot of unknowns when you draft anybody. And you look at skills sets, you look at the kid as an individual, you look at the intangibles that they bring to the table and you try to see if they fit. If they fit what you're looking for in that particular player, in that particular position.
And he's a young man who brought an awful lot to the table as you know. He came from an offense that's not a, quote, pro-style offense. And just a guy who our coaching staff really believed in, that we believed in from a personnel standpoint and it was just letting him develop and giving him an opportunity. But coach Harbaugh has done an outstanding job with him as has (quarterback's coach) Geep Chryst and (offensive coordinator) Greg Roman and he's still learning, still developing.
What do you want to see from receiver A.J. Jenkins?
TB: Production. Like we do with all of players. We've always said, you go into the draft and draft guys and you know what their strong suits are, you know what their weaknesses are and then it's up them. And A.J.'s a young man that's worked awfully hard, is going to continue to work hard.
I believe he's in Atlanta right now or on his way to Atlanta where the quarterback is and some of our other players. And they're going to go at it this offseason. And the biggest growth in players is always between Year 1 and Year 2. We expect that's going to happen with A.J. as we do all our young players."
Have you had any conversations with Alex Smith?
TB: We have. In fact, I was out to dinner with Liz and Alex when we were back from the Super Bowl. Had a great conversation, a great dinner. Just a chance to sit down with him and go through what our thoughts are and listen to what their thoughts were as a family. And really get an understanding of what direction we wanted to go.
On Dashon Goldson
TB: We've always maintained that we want to keep as many of our core guys together as we can. So it's definitely a priority. Are we going to be able to it? We don't know that. We're going to work awfully hard to make that happen.
On the lack of production from the 2012 draft class
TB: I think it was coach Belichick or coach Parcells years ago who said, if you're getting a ton of production and you're having a lot of guys make the team from your draft class, you're probably not in a position to play in a Super Bowl. So maybe there is something to that. I don't know. But we feel very good about the class. We didn't get a lot of production from the class. But if you look at the players we drafted and the positions we drafted, they were coming into some loaded depth at certain positions.
More on the 2012 class ...
TB: Once again, we feel very good about ... And I think the question always comes back to the higher picks. We feel very good about A.J. We feel very good about LaMichael James. We feel good about that group of guys. Joe Looney, who came off of an injury into an offensive line that's a pretty good group. So we weren't expecting a ton of production, to be honest with you. Did we get what we expected? That's to be determined. There's a lot of years left in those guys' playing careers.
What's the secret to hitting on third-day picks?
TB: "I don't know that I have a magic answer for what the key is. You set your board, you work diligently at it, you try to find football players. We've always tried to let the film speak for us. The height, the weight, the speed, the combine is nice - it's a part of the picture, but it's a small part of the picture. The big part of the picture is the film and what they've put on film over their careers.
On the unusual timing of Tom Gamble's move to Philadelphia
TB: There's a lot that went into that decision. Tom and I have been friends for a long time and have worked together for an awful long time. It was a chance for him to get home. It certainly is a difficult time to lose someone, especially of Tom's caliber. But at the same time, sometimes in life you have to make those decisions. You've got to let people go home. It was something that him and I have talked about for over a year. It came up again. Through those decisions, we were able to allow that to happen. Tough timing? Obviously. But I think that both sides feel good that the decision was made.
What he'll miss about Gamble ...
TB: You miss an awfully loyal, awfully qualified individual that helps you set your board and helps you through free agency and the like. It's never one person. It's not me, it's not Jim. There's a bunch of qualified individuals - Joel Patten, Matt Malaspina, the rest of the scouts. We just got through 17 days of draft meetings and setting the board. It's never one. Just like we say with players - it's next man up, let's go.
How much are coaches involved in the draft process, and do you like to have a separation of church and state?
TB: I don't know if we want to keep a separation of church and state. We're in this thing together. Coach Harbaugh - I have a lot of respect for his ability to evaluate talent, just as a I do with all of our quarterbacks. So it's a team approach. The coaches aren't sitting in the draft room with us, but at the same time there is a stage when they are going into the process. And that stage starts with the combine. So we look forward to bouncing things of each other. Because it's all about finding players that fit the system. That's all we're looking for. There's a lot of good players out there. This draft is no different than other drafts. But at the same time, you've got to get players that fit your system. There's going to be players that don't fit us whether it's from a character standpoint or a skill set standpoint. There's going to be players that don't fit us. So we're looking for the fit.
On Randy Moss:
TB Randy's a pro. I can't say enough good things about Randy. And I think if you ask anyone in our organization they would say the same thing. One of the first guys to work every day, one of the last to leave. A guy that takes great care of his body, that is probably one of the smartest football players if not the smartest football player I've been around. He grasped the offense very quickly and was one of the leaders in that room. So we're certainly happy that he was there. Is he going to return this year? I don't know that yet.
How will you use 14 selections?
TB: Draft 'em. ... I don't know that we need 14 rookies. We need 14 good football players. We've always had the opinion of, we're not afraid to move up, we're not afraid to stand pat and pick where the selection is, and we're certainly not afraid to move back. We've been successful doing all of the above. How are we going to use them? That remains to be seen. But certainly we enjoy the fact that we're in the position to have 14.
On the dinner with Alex Smith
TB: It was excellent. It was Alex and his wife, Liz. We had a great meal, we had a great discussion. I can't say enough good things. If you ask anyone in the organization, they'll say the same thing. He is a pro's pro. Have nothing but great respect for him, his family. And we're certainly going to do everything in our power to make the best decision for everyone involved.
Is the option to trade him?
TB: There's, uh, I think that's part of it. We're going to look at all options available. Are we going to trade him for sure? That hasn't been decided.
Will you look at a kicker in free agency?
TB: We're going to be looking at every position in free agency. We're going to be looking at every position in the draft. And we're going to address the needs we have through one of those two options.
On whether Phil Dawson is an option.
TB: Once again, we'll look at all options.
On the team's next step
TB: We're going to have to go back to work. It's an awfully good division. It's a competitive division, it's a physical division. All four teams play a physical brand of football. They play very well on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, there's a lot of play makers within the division.
It's a well-coached division. In order to stay on top in that division, we've got to get better. We can't stay the same and we certainly can't take a step back because those other teams are coming. We have to have a good draft. We have to have a good free agency period. But we also have to go back to work. And that's a tough thing to do. Our guys are down a little bit, a little bit discouraged, a little bit disappointed. But we're certainly going to get back on the horse and ride. And I have complete confidence in our players to do that.
Friday, Jan. 22
(Transcribed by Matt Maiocco, CSNBayArea.com)
With 14 draft picks, do you see 14 spots on your roster?
"Do I see it? Do I envision it? Is it possible? I mean, it's certainly possible. We're here to draft the best football players that we can. Feel good about having that many picks."
Will it make you more active during the draft?
"Will it make us more active on draft weekend? Uh, I think you can certainly assume that it would. You comparing to last year? Seven picks last year? To say we'd be more active in the draft this year wouldn't get going out on a limb by saying we'll be more active this draft. I think that's true."
On what impressed him about Colin Kaepernick at the combine two years ago:
"Quite a few things. I thought the things we'd seen on tape showed up in the workout. His competitive nature, for sure.
He threw and did everything at the combine. Interview was outstanding. So several things."
On Kaepernick's work ethic:
"I think it's one of his assets, one of the things that makes him who he is. It's one of the things that's made him who
he is. He's got great attitude. He has a great work ethic. People who have a great attitude and a great work ethic, there are very few circumstances or situations that can keep you from being good. I think that goes for anybody. Maybe there's a percentage of really bad luck in there that I'm not factoring in. But darn-near 100 percent when you have a great work ethic and great attitude things are going to work out really well."
Do you want to see guys take some time off?
"That's OK. Some R&R is needed. But I don't think it's any set amount. This is a job, playing professional football, that's at least 11 month or 12-month-a-year job. You don't want to get out of shape. It's easier to just stay in shape than it is to get out of shape and then try to get back in shape."
On intangibles, is it about what others tell you or what you see in a player's eyes?
"I think there's certainly a part of being with somebody for a half an hour or 15 minutes or an hour or two that you can know somebody. Some people have that ability to have a 30 minute conversation with them and you walk away thinking you really know that person. Others, you can't. You have to validate a meeting with a person or two or three conversations with their track record, their relationships with other people at their school, their teammates, their trainers, equipment managers, teachers, professors, their family. People usually leave a track record of success or failure or success and failure. So, I think, both. . . . But the look in eye? The gleam-in-the-eye test? I don't possess the ability to look in the eye and know somebody -- or claim to."
On a prospect not being truthful:
"Somebody that's not truthful, that's big, to me. I'm a big fan of the Judge Judy show. And when you lie in Judge Judy's courtroom, it's over. Your credibility is completely lost. You have no chance of winning that case. So I learned that from her. It's very powerful, and true. Because if somebody does lie to you, how can you ever trust anything they ever say after that? Ronald Reagan, another person of great wisdom and advice, 'Trust but we will verify.' "
On using the loss in the Super Bowl as motivation:
"I think, I saw this in the last two or three weeks. A lot of people want you to look at it through a certain lens of you-got there-but-it-wasn't-as-good-as-you-wanted lens. Or if you get to that game you got to win that game or else. I don't
know what the 'or else' is. And several other lenses, like it was a successful season or it wasn't. Either team could've won it, etc., etc. It can go on for a while.
The lens that I choose to use, that we choose to use, is look at yourself. Where can you get better? And we're forging ahead with a new day. It's a new day today and paws in the ground and we're attacking it with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. And see if we can't make today better yesterday and tomorrow better . . . a little bit better tomorrow than we were today. That's our attitude with it."
Is Manti Te'o undraftable because of the trust factor?
"No. I wouldn't say that."
How much time elapsed between the game and you talking with your brother and who reached out first?
"Who actually dialed the phone? I called him."
Can you imagine 14 draft picks making your roster?
"Yeah, that was asked a little earlier. Can I imagine it? Sure. Anything's possible. But we also have a lot of good players on our team. Just as a point of fact, take all the players we have on our team, and would love to see them develop, and coach them to be the best they can be, so there's no way 14 players can come in and make the roster. And, simultaneously, at the same time, we're going to find 14 players to come in and beat out 14 of our guys who are currently on the team. That's working at the same time. It's iron sharpening iron effect. I can imagine it both ways.
On Alex Smith:
"I'll be a process. That's the reality of it. That's the way it'll play out over the next so many weeks or months."
On A.J. Jenkins:
"Same thing I'm looking for for myself, continual effort and continual improvement."
On Alex Smith's past two seasons:
"That list of things, A) I don't have that in front of me and B) I think the main thing is Alex is a heck of a football player. Alex is really playing the best football of his career the last two years. And we think we have the best quarterback situation in the National Football League. Feel strongly about that. Again, that'll be a process that plays out. Alex Smith, continuing to be a 49ers or if a trade occurs in the next weeks or months. Those are the two possibilities -- most-likely possibilities."
On being objective when it comes to Stanford players:
"Really the same way you're objective with any player, watching the tape. Most all of evaluation is really done off the production on the tape."
Are you saying a release of Alex Smith is unlikely?
When did you reach out to your brother after the Super Bowl?
"A number of days, a couple of days, two, three days, four days. Something like that."