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Harbaugh Congratulates Draft Picks, Baalke Texts Veterans, Around the NFL

Posted May 12, 2014

The San Francisco 49ers top lieutenants each had their NFL Draft-day roles, and each broke up the intensity of the three-day event in a different way.

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1. Harbaugh Places Calls

Forty-six million people watched the three-day NFL Draft, according to The Neilsen Company, including 32 million alone for the first round. Sitting in the San Francisco 49ers draft room, Jim Harbaugh was one of them, of course, although his attention wasn't always on the screen. He spoke with all 12 of the team's 2014 draft picks after they were selected. The coach enjoyed nothing more than placing the congratulatory call. To first-round pick Jimmie Ward on Friday, Harbaugh asked simply, "Are you ready to play?"

"But it’s great that you had these moments where the cameras can capture what’s going on in a living room, or a draft party, or wherever families are assembled, because I like seeing it," he said. "I hear it when I’m on the phone and there’s no more excitement that I could possibly get than being the person that delivers that news. It’s an unbelievable feeling. And it’s like I don’t even need the camera because I can hear it and hear it in the voices and hear the emotion.”

Harbaugh had the chicken pox when he was drafted 26th overall in the 1987 draft. That wasn't why he didn't have a camera inside his home.

“That memory is so etched that for me being there, you know how you felt," he said. "You know what position you were sitting in. I remember the voice on the other end. The order of the people you talked to and what was said. It’s etched in there and it’s kind of just for you, too. That’s a pretty special thing, too. Just to have that moment.”

>>How Ward, the team's top choice, made his way west is explained by the San Jose Mercury News' Dan Brown.  

2. Baalke Receives Texts

About 9.6 million Tweets were sent about the draft during over the three-day event, reahing an average of 10 million per day. While 49ers CEO Jed York posted a few of his own, general manager Trent Baalke broke up the intensity of his workday by fielding text messages from current players. They were offering their opinions on Baalke's draft picks.

“There’s always a little bit of ribbing going on, but they’re all very positive," the GM said. "The one thing that good football players and good football teams have, they’ve got a competitive nature and our guys are not afraid to compete. So when you guys are looking at it and saying, ‘Oh, that’s a deep roster, how is so-and-so going to react to this?’ I would hope that they react very positively because it’s only going to make them better. And that’s the whole objective. If they become better, we become better. That’s the number one priority, for us to become better, for us to become a better football team.”

>>Baalke got the better end of one of his draft-weekend trades, and it wasn't close, said Grantland's Bill Barnwell.

>>Did the 49ers do enough to get back to next season's Super Bowl? The San Francisco Chronicle's Ann Killion asked that question.

3. Around the League

>>Tight end Mike Flacco, the younger brother of the Baltimore Ravens quarterback, signed as an undrafted free agent after playing one season of small-college ball.

>>The Buffalo Bills are going all-in with quarterback EJ Manuel. The Cleveland Browns considered drafting wideout Sammy Watkins, who should become Manuel's new favorite target.

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