This time of year is when GMs and other team executives start setting smoke screens to try and deceive other teams. One of the best GMs at setting these smoke screens is the GM of the San Francisco 49ers, Trent Baalke.
Every word put out to the press is calculated and everything is done in a veil of secrecy. Anonymous sources sending out information are merely pawns in his chess match. So my question is this: why do people keep believing reports about who the 49ers are or are not interested in leading up to the draft?
The latest report of a player the 49ers are interested in is LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr. First of all, which wide receiver-needy teams aren’t interested in Beckham? Second, why would any team leak information about the player they coveted the most and would have to trade up for? The only thing that would do is drive up the price up because all the bargaining power would rest in the hands of their potential trade partners.
Just last draft, the 49ers traded up in the first round to take safety Eric Reid out of LSU. No one expected him to be their target at all. There were no reports of the 49ers being extremely interested in him and no reports of Reid being brought in for a visit. When Baalke was asked why the 49ers didn’t bring Reid in for a visit, his response was, “Why would we want to advertise to the rest if the league that we have interest in a player?”
Read that again and let it sink in. If you have three or four years of college tape on a player, what more are you going to find out by bringing him into your facility? There’s a lot more to lose than there is to gain by doing this. You might say the interview is to see what kind of person he is, but that’s what your regional scouts are doing. They’re interviewing his childhood coaches, old friends, teachers, and acquaintances. These NFL teams know long before an interview what kind of person that prospect is.
So did Baalke all of a sudden change his logic on what gets out to the media? I don’t think so. I think the safer bet is Baalke is fully aware of how the media works and is using that to his advantage. Of course, it’s possible the 49ers move up and draft Evans or Beckham. They need a wide receiver, and both of those prospects would help the San Francisco offense out a great deal.
But if I were a betting man, I would bet against that. Baalke wanted it leaked for a reason and, that reason was not to drive up the price it would cost him to trade up.