Baalke likes 49ers' offense, quiet about draft plans 

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers, who have the 15th pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 30, will select a football player. A big, strong one, according to what general manager Trent Baalke said Friday in what was a less-than-informative media session on what Baalke is thinking.

Standard operating procedure in the NFL, certainly, is never to give away a scintilla of meaningful information because the enemy may steal the guy you really hope to draft.

The Niners finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs, so one might presume they have problems. Not at all, Baalke implied.

The offensive line is fine. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick? “I haven’t seen him,” Baalke said, “but I know he worked extremely hard ... or any player the most important thing is confidence.”

For fans the most important thing is confidence in the GM and the coach. Will they have the right personnel? Will they prepare them properly?

“I would expect Colin to come back extremely confident,” Baalke said, “which would help his poise, which would help his decision-making, which will help his leadership, which will help every aspect of his game.” Baalke also said he looks out his window at Niners Central in Santa Clara and watches tight end Vernon Davis, who didn’t work out a year ago, running pass patterns after what Baalke conceded was the worst of Davis’ nine years with the team.

Bruce Miller, the fullback, wasn’t in view because, after being arrested in March on suspicion of spousal abuse. He is home in Georgia and not at team headquarters.

“We sat down with Bruce,” Baalke said, “and felt it was important to handle this situation. And once it’s handled, we’ll move on from there.”

No charges have been filed by Santa Clara County prosecutors, who continue to investigate the incident, the latest in a string of off-field legal run-ins by 49ers players in the past year.

The belief is the 49ers need a wide receiver or cornerback. Baalke said he likes the receivers acquired since the end of the season — Torrey Smith, late of the Baltimore Ravens, and Jerome Simpson. Smith signed a $40 million, five-year contract.

The Niners, of course, still have Anquan Boldin, who led the team in receiving in 2013 and 2014, along with Quinton Patton and Bruce Ellington.

“I know one thing,” said Baalke. “We’re faster with Torrey out there, with Simpson out there. Ellington is running well, Patton is running extremely well and always could run well for his size.

“That is not to say we’re not going to make a pick and look for another wide receiver. Not saying that at all. Don’t feel like we have to be pressured into a decision like that. Don’t feel people can look at our roster and say, ‘They’ve got to do this.’“

And what about Reggie Bush, the veteran running back who signed recently?

“Anyone who thinks Reggie Bush lost a step,” Baalke chortled, “may want to change their thinking.”

What the 49ers have got to do under new coach Jim Tomsula, who did not attend the media session, is improve from last year’s mediocrity. That will not be easy with the loss of inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland.

However, NaVorro Bowman finally should be at full strength after missing basically all of last season because of that awful knee injury in the 2013 NFC Championship Game at Seattle. Baalke said the Niners are working to sign Michael Wilhoite, another inside linebacker, to a contract extension. He is an exclusive-rights free agent, meaning he cannot negotiate with other teams.

Baalke said Bowman “looks extremely fit and ready to go. A lot of people would like to be in our situation at inside linebacker.”

About The Author

Art Spander

Art Spander

Art Spander has been covering Bay Area sports since 1965 and also writes on and Email him at
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