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Baalke: Film Doesn’t Lie

Posted Feb 23, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS – Trent Baalke is old-school.

That doesn’t mean he wears vintage clothes or only listens to classic rock. It means the NFL’s reigning Executive of the Year has a traditional train of thought when it comes to football.

It’s even more apparent in how the 49ers general manager views the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.

In various different media sessions, Baalke referenced his “old-school” approach to evaluating the nation’s top players in Indianapolis. Film study, more so than actual combine performances, will make the most difference in attracting the eyes of Baalke and the 49ers scouting staff.

After all, as Baalke put it bluntly on Thursday, “How well can you get to know someone in a 15-minute interview?”

That’s all the time the 49ers will have with respective combine participants besides getting to talk to them in passing. The team, however, will be allowed to bring in 30 visitors prior to the draft. That’s where Baalke and company make the most of their interviews.

“We interview as many guys as we can,” Baalke shared with a room full of media at Lucas Oil Stadium. “We take the information, we put it on a scale and we continue to use that as we move forward because we’re going to have other chances to see these guys.”

For now, it’s about evaluating the combine performances and comparing it to what was displayed on the game film.

With many draft pundits predicting the 49ers drafting a wide receiver with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Baalke was asked to evaluate the position.

In addition to a strong free agent crop, Baalke said there’s plenty of depth in this year’s class of receivers.

But that’s when he warned reporters about team’s tending to clamor over 40-yard dash times.

“There are guys here who are going to run in the high 4.3s and the upper 4.4s, but when you turn on the field, you might not see it.” Baalke said. “They’re going to be 4.6-guys all day long in pads. It’s, do you buy into the watch or into the film. I hope that we continue to buy in the film, the eye-in-the-sky mentality.”

The 40-yard dash times won’t be ignored by any means. They’ll be compared to game tape.

“We do look at it,” Baalke said, “but we’re trying to say is, ‘What they ran here, is that what they played at?’ It works the other way, too. There are guys who will run higher here and when you turn on the film, they were mid 4.4-guys.”

With the combine taking place in the early phases of the NFL offseason where franchise tags and free agency talk remains prominent, Baalke discussed the 49ers options in the free agency market, too.

In regards to starting quarterback Alex Smith, San Francisco’s high-profile free agent-to-be on March 13, Baalke said the 49ers would remain thoughtful in how they approach the negotiations.

“We’re going to be very methodical like we were in the past,” Baalke cautioned. “Our approach isn’t going to change that way… We’re working hard to keep our group together.”

Baalke has confidence in Smith being the quarterback to lead the 49ers back to the Super Bowl.

“When you asked them to do what they’re capable of doing, they usually have good results,” Baalke said. “When you ask a player to do what they can’t do, you usually have unsuccessful situations. That’s all we’re trying to do. We’re trying to bring guys into a system… that are going to do what we ask them to do on the field. The more guys you can bring in to do those things, the more likely you can be successful.”

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