Sakamoto: 49ers’ GM Trent Baalke Makes Draft History Suggesting Weak Linebacker Class

USA Today Sports/Kyle Terada

USA Today Sports/Kyle Terada

San Francisco 49ers GM Trent Baalke is not one to reach for a player, so it’s not surprising the team did not use one of their 12 draft picks on a linebacker. Considered a weak draft class, Baalke made history by not selecting a linebacker for the first time since taking over the team’s war room in 2010.

The 49ers have a clear need at inside linebacker and could have easily addressed it with a camp body on Day 3. The team had eight draft picks but opted to go another route. Shortly after the draft concluded Baalke elaborated as to why he passed up on addressing the position. “We feel good about that group [ILB]. We really do,” Baalke said. “We weren’t in a position at any point where we felt the player available was that guy,” Baalke said.

Baalke may not be a draft guru when it comes to taking wide-receivers, but you can’t knock his track record on evaluating talent from the linebacker spot. Since 2010, Baalke has selected nine linebackers. Two of those were All-Pros [Bowman & A. Smith]. That number would have included ILB Chris Borland had he not retired, but we will stick to the facts for now.

Out of those nine, four are still with the team; ILB NaVorro Bowman, OLB Corey Lemonier, OLB Aaron Lynch and OLB Eli Harold. Aside from Borland’s retirement, three others are no longer in the NFL. But what would you expect from day 3 [4th-7th round] picks?

So why did Baalke pass up on selecting an inside linebacker to pair with Bowman? That answer is simple. This inside linebacker class was weak sauce! I don’t care what Baalke says it’s total bull and he knows it.

The fact that the first true inside linebacker came off the board in Day 2, with the Detroit Lions selection (No. 41) of ILB Reggie Ragland should say something. The fact teams decided to draft two career-threatening injured players before Ragland should say something.

Pick your poison, there was a reason teams shied away from both the Jack and Mike positions.

Baalke is all about adding depth and brewing competition. He created that culture in this year’s draft by adding three cornerbacks. He did it again with the team’s struggling offensive line. He added a fifth-round pick to push DE Tony Jerod-Eddie. He added two skill position players on the offensive side of the ball as camp bodies. So why not do the same with ILB Gerald Hodges, ILB Michael Wilhoite, and ILB Shayne Skov?

Because that’s not the Baalke way, as he stays true to his board, when the team is on the clock.

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.