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Trent Baalke Details Draft Vision

Posted Apr 17, 2013

San Francisco 49ers General Manager discussed his vision for the 2013 NFL Draft.

In a calm and collected demeanor, the San Francisco 49ers General Manager discussed his vision for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Trent Baalke was asked about drafting quarterbacks, if he had specific players in mind for pick No. 31 or if he was looking to fill the team’s starting free safety position in this year’s draft.

The 2011 NFL Executive of the Year didn’t dive into specifics on each topic but stressed the ultimate phrase for this time of the year.

“Anything is possible.”

According to San Francisco’s draft-day decision-maker, the team’s draft board is mostly set and is tailored to the system the 49ers run on offense, defense and special teams. All it needs now is a few minor touch-ups on individual players before the 2013 NFL Draft begins on April 25.

Baalke stressed the depth of this year’s talent pool repeatedly in his 35-minute session with the Bay Area media on Wednesday. It goes in line with what many draft experts have said about the class of 2013 in the weeks leading up to the three-day Super Bowl of the offseason for 32 clubs.

“There’s a lot of value in the draft, more so than top-tier guys,” Baalke said to a room of interested reporters. “It’s a talented pool of players. It’s a larger pool, but not clear-cut guys.”

That’s when top-notch scouting comes into play. Baalke’s staff enters the draft with a strong track record of finding starters in every stage of the draft. Starters like Aldon Smith and Bruce Miller have been found in the first and seventh rounds, respectively.

“We treat the seventh round the same way we treat the first round,” the 49ers General Manager said.

With 13 picks in this year’s draft, Baalke isn’t ruling out taking 13 players with those selections. He did, however, make several trades in last year’s draft to accumulate more picks for this year’s go-around.

“You could pick 13 and all 13 could make the team,” Baalke began. “Is that realistic? Probably not.”

With the 49ers coming off a second consecutive NFC West division title and an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII, roster spots will be hard to come by in 2013. Even so, Baalke’s goal is to find difference-makers whenever San Francisco makes a selection.

“There’s good players at every position,” Baalke said. “It’s our job to find them.”

With safety Dashon Goldson departing via free agency, the 49ers General Manager was asked about using the team’s No. 31 overall pick to find his replacement.

Baalke said that wasn’t a slam-dunk by any means.

“We feel comfortable with the players we have,” he said.

The 49ers used a sixth-round draft pick on Trenton Robinson in last year’s draft and signed veteran Craig Dahl in free agency. As the roster currently stands, both could be in line to compete for the safety position opposite of hard-hitting Pro Bowler, Donte Whitner.

Baalke did say he wanted to create more competition and depth at the safety position. He later said the team hasn’t closed the door on signing veteran Charles Woodson, a player who met with the 49ers early in the free agency process.

“We had a great visit with Charles when he was here,” Baalke said. “We feel he can still play the game. That’s something we’ll continue to look at.”

For now, Baalke’s focus will be on the incoming rookies. The 49ers General Manager estimates that he’s personally interviewed 120-150 players at various events like the combine and visits to team headquarters in Santa Clara.

“You try to interview as many guys as you can,” Baalke said. “All you’re trying to do is get a gut feel. We’ve made gut decisions around here that heave been very successful.”

When it comes to filling a need, Baalke’s gut says to draft the best player on the board and not the one who fits an open role on the team. Baalke’s experience with drafts always center on the need versus talent debate. In his mind, talent always wins out.

“The teams that have been successful are drafting for need a year or two ahead of time,” Baalke explained.

So when asked about adding a signal-caller to the roster to join Colin Kaepernick, Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien, Baalke didn’t balk at the notion of San Francisco adding to the quarterback room.

“We’re not opposed to drafting any position,” he said.

On April 25, we’ll know find out more about the draft board and Baalke's intensions for the future of 49ers football.