Sakamoto: 49ers GM Trent Baalke Reflects on Drafting Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati

AP/Paul Sakuma

AP/Paul Sakuma

On the players they talked about and whether these were the two they had targeted:
“Well, we talked about a lot of people for a long time, but going back a week ago, these are two guys that we had targeted and we feel awfully good to have them on this team right now.”

On why he traded up to get RT Anthony Davis:
“I wasn’t worried about the teams in front of us at all. The concern was in order to get tackles, obviously they are high-value players in this league. I was more concerned about who else may come up and jump ahead of us because they knew what our needs were at the time. It had nothing to do with the two guys ahead of us or the two teams ahead of us. It had more to do with the teams that were behind us.”

On whether he went into the draft planning to take two offensive linemen with the first two picks:
“Honestly, we were prepared for that. Right now it’s draft talk, but like I said, going back a week ago, we targeted these two players and we said, you know what, if we came out of the first round like this, it would be the perfect storm. We feel good. These are two good football players. More importantly, they’re not only good football players, they are good people and they fit the identity of the type of players we want on this football team.”

On what he means they fit their identity:
“Everyone here knows how coach wants this program to run and how this organization wants to be looked at. These are two guys that can play physical football and we are confident that they are going to come in here – they are guys that obviously have the size, the strength and the athleticism to play the position and play it well.”

On whether there were any concerns about Davis with his work ethic or character:
“First of all, as far as the concerns, we’ve addressed the concerns, whether it be character or whatever you are referring to. We have no concerns. We did our homework. We felt good about it. Coach [Singletary] did a lot of background work. The scouting staff did a lot of background work. Our staff did a lot of background work. We don’t have any issues with that whatsoever.”

On whether the concerns he may have about a player are eased because Singletary is someone that can motivate a player like that:
“No question. You never want to deal with too many problems, but once again, we addressed the concerns and having a coach like coach Singletary that does a great job of working with all the players, that certainly helps when you make decisions.”

On whether his first day managing an NFL draft went as well as it could have:
“I think we’re thrilled. I’m more nervous now than I was during the draft. I think when you look back on it, like I said, I answered the question earlier, we targeted these two guys. These are two guys that we wanted on this football team. It just so happened that the draft board fell our way.”

On whether he tried to go higher than No. 11:
“We had gone into the draft thinking that we would go as high as 10. We started making calls at 10 when the player was available. Jacksonville was at 10. They didn’t want to make the trade. They had a guy targeted, which I felt good about because they drafted two offensive tackles a year ago. So, once they said they had a player they had targeted, I was pretty comfortable we could move up to 11 and still get the player. Once again, I was looking more at it from who was behind us trying to come up more than the teams in front of us.”

On which teams concerned him:
“I guess I can’t recall all the teams that had that need. Green Bay had the need. They addressed it with a nice player that fell to them. But, there were other teams that needed tackles, and I just wasn’t willing to sit there, nor was coach [Mike Singletary], to sit there and let a good player go when all we needed to do was make a simple trade and get the guy we wanted.”

On whether quarterback was an option at either selection:
“No.”

On whether this is a signal to the fans of the confidence the organization has in QB Alex Smith:
“We’ve said all along that Alex Smith is our guy. I don’t know how else to phrase it. Coach [Mike Singletary] has said it. I’ve said it. The organization stands behind him. These are two good players that are obviously going to be thrown into the mix and are going to add some strength in areas that we felt we needed to address.”

On whether the team will take a quarterback tomorrow:
“I can’t say that.”

On whether he had seen T Anthony Davis or G Mike Iupati in a game:
“I didn’t see either one of them play live. Obviously, one’s a junior who came out early. The other one is a senior. In terms of seeing them in person, I saw both of them in person, but not live at a game.”

On whether he would have taken G Mike Iupati at 13 if T Anthony Davis would have been gone:
“No question. Definitely.”

On whether these picks were drafted out of need:
“No, I think this was, once again – I keep going back – a perfect storm, whatever you want to call it. These were two players that we had valued very high. We had placed first-round value on both of them, and high first-round value on both of them. It just so happened that they were players at need positions.”

On the new format of the NFL Draft:
“I love the new format. It makes for a long three days, but it also give you time to sit back, reflect on what happened in the first round, sleep on what you want to do in the second and third round and then catch your breath for the finale on Saturday.”

On trading for WR Ted Ginn, Jr.:
“We like Ted and obviously we liked him enough to trade for him. The one thing that you can never have enough of is speed and we feel that by adding him to the mix, he not only does he help in the return game, but also gives us a vertical threat to help take the top off of the defense. And when you do that, you hope to not see as many eight-guys in the box from a defensive standpoint. It opens up the field for the other playmakers.”

On if there is enough ammunition to go get someone in the second round:
“There’s always ammunition because there’s always next year. Are we afraid as an organization, if there’s a guy we see and we have targeted to use next year’s picks to move up? No, we’ll do whatever it takes to get the players on this team that we believe in.”

On what is given up with the fourth round choice traded to Denver:
“Who knows what you give up. You can’t worry about what you don’t have. You’ve got to worry about what you got. I do it 100 times out of 100 I’d make that trade.”

On possibly moving Offensive Tackle Adam Snyder inside:
“The one thing we’ve got to keep in mind is these are young guys. Obviously, when you take high picks, you want them to be starters. As far as their potential, we love their potential. These guys in the locker room are fighters too, they’re good football players. It’s not like they’re just going to roll over. What this does create is good competition. On any good football team, that’s what you’ve got, you have a lot of competition. We’ll throw these young guys in the mix and we’ll let them go play ball.”

On if this closes the door of going after Chester Pitts:
“We don’t discuss any trades that we’re going to do or not going to do. Does it close the door? Anything’s a possibility for us.”

On what will be addressed in the next few rounds:
“I’m not going to address the needs that we’ll be looking at. I will say this: we’re going to go after good football players whether they’re defensive or offensive. We’re looking to get a starter out of this next pick and we’re confident that on our board there’s a couple players that we have targeted. If we need to move up to get them, we’ll move up to get them.”

On if the first round progressed like they had envisioned it:
“I think we had a fairly good read on the picks that took place as far as the players. I think that addresses the question.”

On the biggest surprise in the first round:
“I think when you say, ‘what’s the biggest surprise?’ you’re kind of taking a shot at another organization. So, I don’t want to do that. We felt that all of the players that went had value, and high value. It’s hard to look at it and say, ‘I was shocked that this guy went there.’ Everybody’s board is set up for themselves. I don’t want to devalue anybody else’s picks.”

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of NinerFans.com, 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 ryan@NinerFans.com or call him at (408) 622-0996.

Comments