General manager Trent Baalke is a complex person. He gathers information about others -- and other teams -- while refusing to let information about the 49ers to escape from the walls of their Santa Clara offices.
He is not warm. He despises small talk. And he is meticulous and tidy.
Greg Bedard of MMQB, in his spot-on profile of Baalke, writes:
“If Baalke lacks anything, it’s charisma. What most people see is what they get. He’s borderline OCD about working out and maintaining his physical appearance. He’s a neat-freak who organizes reporters’ recording devices by size before starting press conferences.”
And that immediately made me recall my favorite Baalke story.
In September of 2011, the 49ers practiced for a week in Youngstown, Ohio, between games at Cincinnati and Philadelphia. On one of those days, 49ers CEO Jed York and Baalke visited York’s old high school, Cardinal Mooney.
Both men spoke to the athletes. Then, York led a tour around campus to look at the facilities and reconnect with some of the faculty. Baalke was fidgety and anxious. He wanted to be back at the team hotel to watch film. He said he’d just wait out front of the school for the tour to conclude.
Thirty minutes later, when York and a handful of reporters were ready to return to the hotel, there was Baalke in front of the school with several piles of weeds at his feet.
The sight of thistle poking up through the paved driveway in front of the school bothered Baalke so much, he began weeding -- without any gloves, of course. After he completed the driveway, he moved on to address any other blemishes he saw in the landscaping.
He was much more content remaining behind the scenes and taking care of the little details.