INDIANAPOLIS – He looked calm. He looked cool. And, he certainly looked collected. San Francisco 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke was forthcoming in his comments and he was poised to handle anything sent his way.
Baalke met with reporters Thursday morning at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine and it was abundantly clear, Baalke was focused at the task at hand: Continue to build the depth of the defending NFC champs.
Free agency will help in that regard, but for now, it's all about the draft.
“There are a lot of good players out there,” said Baalke at the main podium inside of Lucas Oil Stadium’s media work room. “But at the same time, you’ve got to find the players who fit.”
The 49ers enter the 2013 NFL Draft with 14 selections, including three compensatory picks. Baalke doesn’t want to draft 14 players though.
“I don’t know that we need 14 rookies,” he said. “We need good football players.”
After discussing the mobile quarterbacking revolution aided by 49ers starter
“We had a great meal, a great discussion,” Baalke said of his conversation with Smith. “I can’t say enough good things. If you ask anyone in the organization, they’ll say the same thing.
“He’s a pro’s pro.”
There’s still time to make the decision, but the 49ers GM made it clear that he wants to treat the matter carefully.
“We’re certainly going to do everything in our power to make the best decision for everyone involved,” Baalke added.
As for his other top offseason tasks, Baalke said re-signing two-time Pro Bowl safety
“We want to keep as many of our core guys together as we can,” Baalke said. “We’re going to work awfully hard to make that happen.”
With 14 draft selections, the 49ers are in position to add depth and replace any of the team’s 12 unrestricted and two restricted free agents should they move on to other teams.
Baalke made it clear that the players San Francisco covets will be the ones standing out on tape, but also the ones who demonstrate strong character and professional work ethic.
“You try to find football players,” Baalke reasoned. “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 in their careers.”
Baalke and the 49ers scouting staff spent 17 days in pre-combine meetings going over the draft board and getting prepared for the combine. Once the combine wraps up, coaches will be brought into the meetings to discuss prospects and potential fits.
It’s not known if veteran wide receiver
“Randy’s a pro,” said Baalke, who raved about Moss’ impact on the team’s young wide receivers. “He was a real leader in that group.”
Another position Baalke discussed was exploring options at kicker.
“We're going to be looking at every position in free agency and the draft,” Baalke said.
San Francisco’s GM understands how critical the next few months will be. Not only does he expect the teams in the division to improve, he doesn’t want his club to regress one bit.
“We can’t take a step back,” he said. “Those other teams are coming.”
The first step back will take place in Indianapolis at the combine.