Friday, April 1, 2011
Checking in with 49ers GM Trent Baalke
By Mike Sando
It's been a busy offseason for the San Francisco 49ers even though the lockout has shut down the waiver wire.
New 49ers GM Trent Baalke, right, believes the team has personnel in place that will fit coach Jim Harbaugh's offensive scheme.
The team has named a general manager (Trent Baalke), hired a head coach (Jim Harbaugh), put together a coaching staff and prepared to use a league-high 12 selections in the 2011 draft.
I caught up with Baalke at the NFL owners meeting in New Orleans and wanted to pass along an interview transcript ...
Mike Sando: This is your first offseason as GM. What has the adjustment been like?
Trent Baalke: As far as the offseason and all the things that went on -- my hiring, the hiring of the new head coach, the hiring of a coaching staff, the realignment on the personnel side and some other things we have done internally to make us a little more efficient -- it has gone as well as it could have gone to this point. You always think after the fact you could have done better, you could have done something a little different, but I feel very good about coach Harbaugh and the staff that we have brought in and the direction we are headed.
Mike Sando: Harbaugh's offense will get much of the attention this season. What's going to be different?
Trent Baalke: I don't know how it's going to differ. The systems are different. I don't want to look back at all. I want to move forward with this new staff and coach Harbaugh. Obviously, a very creative mind and he has brought in some guys that worked with him at Stanford that helped put together a very creative offense at the college level. I think he understands there are going to be some differences at this level simply because he has played it. He understands the difference in the game and he is going to have different personnel to work with. We don't have the same dynamics offensively that they might have had offensively at Stanford. We might be built a little differently. But I'm sure he'll adapt and his staff will adapt very quickly.
Mike Sando: How does your personnel match up with what Harbaugh wants to do?
Trent Baalke: The good part is, it was a tight end-driven offense that Stanford ran and a lot of the power game stuff that he ran, which is a lot of the things we did a year ago. We certainly feel good about the tight end position and the three guys that we have currently at that position. It'll be interesting how he puts this all together with the combination of the tight ends, the fullbacks and the weapons we feel we have at the wide receiver position as well.
Mike Sando: Harbaugh has said some nice things about Alex Smith. You were quoted as saying your next quarterback isn't on the roster. How do you and Harbaugh differ on Smith?
Trent Baalke: First of all, the comment I made was probably taken a little out of context. The question was asked of me, what my feelings were as to the quarterback position and Alex Smith in particular. You have to remember, at that time, Alex Smith was only under contract for 2010. He is not under contract for 2011. At that time, it was obvious what my answer was. How Jim and I differ, I don't think we differ. I think we want to make this team as competitive as we can. In order to do that, we have to create competition at every position, and certainly to do that we're going to have to create it at the quarterback position when you don't have an incumbent quarterback. That is all we are hoping to do.
The Harbaugh File
*Jim Harbaugh's winning percentage as a starting quarterback at Michigan includes one tie. The Wolverines were 24-5-1 with him in the lineup from 1984-86.
San Diego (HC)
Mike Sando: Harbaugh played quarterback for years. He coached Rich Gannon with the Raiders. How do his experiences shape what you'll want in a quarterback?
Trent Baalke: Jim understands exactly what he wants in a quarterback. He played it, he has had success developing everywhere he has been. He has had success identifying quarterbacks, when you go back to the reports he wrote when he was at Oakland relative to the quarterback position, the guys that came out at that time. Does anyone have all the answers relative to the quarterback position? I think that has been proven. The answer to that is no. All we can do is take a hard look at our system, a hard look at what we are going to ask that player to do and then go get the very best fit for our team.
Mike Sando: You have a new defensive coordinator as well. With all the changes, to what degree could this be a rebuilding situation?
Trent Baalke: We feel we have pretty good players on this football team, not only on the offensive side, but on the defensive side. You are always trying to get better. That is not to take a shot at anyone on your current roster. This is a business that is not static. It is constantly evolving. We have to make every effort we can. We've got 12 draft picks coming up. We have to use those to the best of our abilities to get a little bit better with every pick we make.
Mike Sando: How does having a new staff affect some of the younger players brought aboard recently, specifically guys like Taylor Mays?
Trent Baalke: The simple effect is that nobody is guaranteed a position. A new staff comes in, we have a new system offensively, defensively and on special teams. Very few holdover position coaches. So, it's going to be competition at its finest. Roll out the ball and may the best man win.