49ers notebook: Baalke Q&A at combine

351094.jpg

49ers notebook: Baalke Q&A at combine

Feb. 24, 2011INDIANAPOLIS -- San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke had a Q&A session with the media Thursday at the NFL scouting combine. Here is the complete transcript:Q: How does the offensive line group measure up this year?
Baalke: "I think overall it's a good group. Top to bottom, there is a lot of depth. But I think there is depth throughout the draft."Q: Is the O-line group lacking at the top end, since so many guys have gone in the top 5 in past years?
Baalke: "That's up to each individual team to assess. Once again, I think the draft is going to be a good draft. It's going to be a deep draft at a lot of positions, and I think there will be good players to be found throughout it."Q: How important is an offensive lineman's intelligence?
Baalke: "Yeah, I think obviously intelligence is a factor at every position. You want to build teams that are smart. Smart football teams win games, and that's been proven over time. So, it's a factor at the offensive line position, but it's a factor throughout at every position."Q: How does having free agency after the draft alter your strategy?
Baalke: "I think it alters your strategy, but you have to be prepared for any scenario that comes up right now. Because there's a lot of unknowns. That's exactly where we're at, prepared for whatever scenarios take place."Q: Does late free agency make drafting a quarterback a higher priority?
Baalke: "I don't think so. Once again, you got to be ready regardless. You have to have a plan for free agency. You have to have a trade plan. You have to have a plan for the draft. The order of it, obviously, if it was a traditional order, it would make it easier for us to make decisions. But you got to be prepared. It's an obstacle and we're prepared for it."Q: What about the strength of the quarterback class? Is it in the middle rounds?
Baalke: "Once again, that's in the eye of the beholder, where the depth of the quarterback position, or where the depth of any of these positions, is. Whether it's top-loaded, bottom-loaded or loaded in the middle. There are good quarterbacks at every level in this draft. There are going to be guys who get picked later on who become good quarterbacks. There are going to be guys who get picked early that maybe don't have the success to where they've been picked. That's been proven over time. So, we're going to evaluate every one of them and put a value on every one of them -- like we are with every player in this draft -- and be in a position to pick them where we have them valued."Q: Do you rely on Jim Harbaugh more for the quarterback evaluation?
Baalke: "Well, obviously we do. He's not only our head coach, but he's played the position and he's proven that he can develop the quarterback in places he's been. And he's also proven in his short time in the league that he has an eye for that position. So, with that in mind, we're going to use all of our resources."Q: Are you talking about the evaluations he had with with Raiders.
Baalke: "Yeah, the evaluations with the Raiders."Q: Who were your influences coming up through the ranks?
Baalke: "I think it starts with my first job, with the Jets, and being fortunate enough to work for one of the best talent evaluators in the business in Dick Haley. I learned a lot from Mr. Haley. Also on that staff was coach (Bill) Parcells, who I still consult and learned a tremendous amount from. Coach (Bill) Belichick was a part of that group, and that entire staff. That staff was loaded with talent."Q: What did you learn from Belichick?
Baalke: "More than anything, just his work ethic and his intelligence, his understanding of the game -- every facet of the game and what it takes to play the game."Q: How much will the quarterback position -- and how the needs are addressed -- affect who wins the NFC West?
Baalke: "I think it's proven -- you need a quarterback. This is a quarterback-driven league and you need a guy that can function at that position to be successful. With that in mind, whoever does a better job of answering that question and solidifying that position on their team is at an advantage. It will come down to who can do that and who can surround him with the best possible personnel."Q: Coach Harbaugh talks a lot about "athletic instincts" when evaluating a quarterback. How important that when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks?
Baalke: "Their ability to adapt to different situations that they come up with. They got to be able to think on their feet, be able to throw from multiple positions and they got to do it with accuracy and arm strength. So, I think when you're talking about the athletic instincts of a player (it's) his ability to drop back, to feel the defense, to make quick-snap judgments and make them while he is in the pocket, make them while he is on the move, from all different situations on the field."Q: Did you consult with John Harbaugh when you were decided to hire Jim?
Baalke: "No. I have never met John. As far as how his family background played into it, I am a big believer in pedigree. Jim has been a football guy his entire life. His father was a well-respected coach, so he grew up playing it and wanting to be a coach. He started coaching,as a matter of fact, while he was still playing. He is a football man. He loves the game. He had a big respect for the game, and I think that's the passion that I saw in him. I just have a real good feel that he is going to be successful."Q: Frank Gore was the bell cow in past years. Will he still be?
Baalke: "Frank is definitely a bell cow. He's a heck of a football player, and a heck of a young man. Coach has come out and said we're going to take every advantage in using Frank, like we have over the years. But we're also going to develop some young guys. We got Anthony Dixon,who we're high on. And obviously we're going to look to supplement that position moving forward, whether it's through free agency or the draft or a potential trade. One of those three scenarios is going to land us another running back."

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”

 

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”