Breaking down 49ers GM Trent Baalke’s first-round draft strategy

Carlos Avila Gonazles, The Chronicle

Carlos Avila Gonazles, The Chronicle

When San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke took over the 49ers war room in 2010, there has been a significant trend in terms of how Baalke targets his first-round targets. Those players that are considered to possess high character, high production, and versatility will certainly have a gold helmet next to their name. However, there are other factors that persuade my decision in who the 49ers select. From watching Pro Days to private workouts, Baalke’s scouting department has been the typical Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Below I have identified recent trends of Baalke’s first-round draft picks since taking over the 49ers war room and what that means in this upcoming draft as he looks to target the player he desires.

Pre-Draft visits

Baalke has held pre-draft visits with his first four first-round draft picks including T Anthony Davis, G Mike Iupati, OLB Aldon Smith, and WR A.J. Jenkins. However, since Jenkins the 49ers have NOT brought in any first-round draft picks as FS Eric Reid was not one of the 30 invitees. In addition, no second-round draft picks were brought in for pre-draft visits as the last second-round draft pick to do so was QB Colin Kaepernick who also had a private workout just like this year’s QB Jimmy Garroppolo. The only other second-round pick to have a private workout was TE Vance McDonald.

Pro Days



To hide their interest in a first-round prospect, neither Baalke or head coach Jim Harbaugh will be seen at their Pro Days. The last time they attended a first-round draft pick’s Pro Day was OLB Aldon Smith as both were seen there. Instead they let their Regional scouts be their messenger. Last year National Scout Justin Chabot was spotted at Reid’s Pro Day. While Senior Personnel Assistant¬†Ethan Waugh was at Jenkins Pro Day just like he was this year with WR Brandin Cooks. Where was Baalke and Harbaugh? Not there. A clear sign that they love Cooks. And who can forget about WR Mike Evans? The Texas A&M product was seen holding a private meeting with Director of College Scouting¬†Matt Malaspina. Two players the 49ers highly covet, do not be surprised if one of their names is called in Round one if the 49ers trade up.


Only two first-round draft picks had dinner with Baalke and those players include Davis and Smith. Ever since Smith, no first-round draft pick has been given that treatment.

With the 2014 NFL Draft upon us, do not be surprised if Baalke does not bring in Evans, Cooks, or CB Jason Verrett as the 49ers seem to have significant interest in those players despite both Baalke and Harbaugh not attending their Pro Days.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.