The early winner of the 2013 NFL Draft seems to be the San Francisco 49ers. Admittedly, it’s only March, but the 49ers seem to have made all the right moves in getting a deal for Alex Smith and having the potential to use their horde of 14 picks to vastly improve their standing and roster.
The three nights in April for the NFL should be like every present-giving holiday rolled into one for the 49ers, and the secret behind their success can be summed up in four words: general manager Trent Baalke.
Baalke’s name doesn’t get as much publicity as Jim Harbaugh‘s when it has come to the credit for the 49ers on-field success. In fairness, the “Honey Badger” has done a slam-bang job on game day, taking one of the more poorly prepared teams in the league under Mike Singletary and transforming them into a multifunctional nightmare for opponents.
Think of the current roster. Players like Aldon Smith, Mike Iupati, Joe Staley, Issac Sopoaga, and Colin Kaepernick have all arrived during Baalke’s direct tenure as general manager. His hand prints are all over the team going back to his days as the 49ers head of Scouting and Development. Make no mistake, in many ways, the current roster for the 49ers are his guys.
It’s been Baalke’s steady eye for talent that make this draft so intriguing. The aforementioned group of players has become extremely productive for the 49ers. And while the team was picking high in the years before Harbaugh’s entry, the Kaepernick pick (along with input by the coaching staff, of course) shows that he can find the gems even outside the first round.
Baalke’s options are almost limitless. Will the 49ers make a big splash in the trade market for a Derrelle Revis or a Nmandi Asomaugh? Or will they bet on finding secondary help in a draft thought to be deep at safety? Or will the package their picks and make a move on a player of interest?
Whatever happens on Draft Night, when the 49ers make an impact, be sure to credit the patience and persistence of Baalke.