SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Highlights from San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke's predraft media session following my quick trip down the West Coast to team headquarters Wednesday morning:
GMs can be compulsive about evaluating talent and other things. Before beginning his interview session with roughly 20 reporters, Baalke arranged into a neat row the 10 audio recorders left before him. "They've never seen my desk," Baalke said to laughter. "They can't put these things all discombobulated."
Baalke dodged early questions about quarterbacks. He opened up more as the session progressed, eventually offering scouting reports on Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett. He sees Newton as a highly talented "work in progress" needing time to develop. Gabbert has "rare passing talent" but must adapt from a spread system. Locker comes from a pro-style system but has flourished outside the pocket, an indication he faces an adjustment period. Mallett might have the "best arm talent" in the draft and comes from a pro-style system, but will not fit for every team because of his limited mobility.
If the 49ers do draft a quarterback early, they would prefer to have him get some seasoning before having to start. Baalke pointed to his own experiences working under Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs and Marty Schottenheimer before becoming a GM. "The quarterback position is no different," Baalke said.
Why would the 49ers consider re-signing Alex Smith? Baalke: "There are a lot of reasons. He understands this building. He understands the system that coach is interested in running. [Coach Jim Harbaugh and Smith] obviously hit it off in their discussions. There is a lot of comfort in having somebody, especially when we are in the situation we are in, where there are so many unknowns. Coach is very comfortable with him. I am very comfortable with him. Will Alex choose to come back here? You will have to get him on the phone and ask him that question. But he is certainly a guy that we would like to throw into the mix." Baalke discounted the suggestion that the 49ers could easily acquire a quarterback familiar with the system Harbaugh intends to run.
The 49ers will continue to favor big, physical players. Baalke: "The littler the player, the more special they have to be. They have to have a special trait to overcome their lack of size."
I'll be heading onto the practice field shortly to watch the 49ers' new coaching staff interact with the 50 players invited to a pro day featuring college prospects with ties to the Bay Area. More in a bit.