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Trent Baalke on Free Agency Moves

Posted Apr 17, 2013

The San Francisco 49ers continue to add quality veterans through free agency.

The San Francisco 49ers continue to add quality veterans through free agency. It’s been a calculated approach ever since Trent Baalke became the team’s General Manager before the 2011 season.

This year’s free agency period was no different.

The 49ers added key veterans like cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey, kicker Phil Dawson, linebacker Dan Skuta and safety Craig Dahl. They also made trades to acquire wide receiver Anquan Boldin and quarterback Colt McCoy.

So far, the acquisitions have fit in nicely with their new team in San Francisco. On Wednesday, Baalke estimated that the entire team has been involved with voluntary offseason workouts with the exception of 6-7 players. Of the major offseason additions, only Boldin has been absent from the workouts as he works on moving from the East Coast to California.

The first important signing was Dorsey, a 6-foot-1, 297-pound defensive lineman. The new defensive lineman can also fit many roles on the 49ers defense.

Dorsey signed a two-year contract on March 13 and has spent a great deal of the offseason working with teammates at team headquarters.

Baalke likes Dorsey’s work ethic and position versatility.

“In our system, he’ll be asked to play different things,” the 49ers General Manager said, before mentioning that Dorsey can play at every spot on the defensive line.

The six-year-pro can play defensive end in pass-rushing situations and as a nose tackle in the team’s base, 3-4 defensive alignment.

“His ability to multi-align is advantageous for us,” Baalke noted.

The 49ers also liked the versatility they saw from Asomugha. The 11-year-pro returned to the Bay Area on a one-year contract after he began his career with the Oakland Raiders in 2003.

Asomugha met with Baalke three times before signing his deal, including a lunch visit on Easter Sunday.

Baalke admitted that the veteran defensive back wasn’t playing his best football during his two-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, but also added that he doesn’t judge players based on what they were being coached to do.

With Asomugha, Baalke felt like the relationship would be mutually beneficial.

“You have a vision for guys and see how they can fit into your system,” the 49ers General Manager said.

According to Baalke, the 49ers weren’t necessarily seeking a bigger cornerback in free agency. However, they felt comfortable with acquiring a player with Asomugha’s physical traits. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound cornerback is a valuable addition to Vic Fangio’s defensive unit.

“Height is nice,” Baalke said of Asomugha. “But I wouldn’t say we went out of our way (for it). It was a situation where the stars aligned.”

The General Manager felt it would be mutually beneficial for the two sides to come to an agreement and the deal was struck on April 3.

The team also met with veteran defensive back Charles Woodson around the same time they first spoke with Asomugha. A deal, however, was not agreed on with the former Green Bay Packer who remains unsigned.

“Charles is someone we’re still looking at,” Baalke said.

The 49ers hold 13 picks in the upcoming draft and stand in good shape to bolster depth at numerous positions. However, the team’s top personnel man sounded open to the idea of adding veterans later in the offseason.

For now, Baalke is focused on making an impact with each draft selection.

“It’s up to us to turn these 13 picks into quality picks,” he said.

“The more darts you have, the more opportunities you have for balloons to pop.”

Additional notes from Baalke’s media day:

-The Smith tandem on defense, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith, are both recovering from offseason surgeries and should be on track to start the 2013 season. Justin Smith has been conservative in the weight room so far, but it’s a good sign to see him involved in the team’s offseason program. Aldon Smith is slightly behind in his rehab, but is on track to play, too.

-Baalke noted that second-round pick LaMichael James wasn’t drafted to fit a future offensive system with Colin Kaepernick. Instead, James was selected to be part of the team’s three-pronged approach at running back. Baalke wants running backs who can all do similar things on the field. Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and James all proved to be reliable weapons on offense. All of them proved they could carry out the team’s complex offensive system.

-Kaepernick’s work ethic has been fun to track for the 49ers General Manager. San Francisco’s quarterback began training in Atlanta weeks after the Super Bowl and brought along teammates to train, Ricardo Lockette and Chad Hall were part of the training group. “He’s been working hard,” Baalke said of Kaepernick. “He’s very committed to the game.”

-Baalke said the jury is still out on the 2012 draft class. He also wouldn’t pencil in last year’s first round pick, A.J. Jenkins as the team’s No. 3 wideout just yet. Baalke wants Jenkins to earn that role. “It’s up to him,” Baalke said. “It’s a new year, a new beginning.”

-Baalke noted that all second-year players will have a full offseason to improve and that the NFL continues to be a “developmental league.” He noted that past drafts can only be evaluated 2-3 years down the road. “After the third year,” Baalke said, “then we’ll know.”

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