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INDIANAPOLIS -- General manager Trent Baalke spent about 15 minutes at the podium Thursday morning at the NFL scouting combine to take part in a Q&A with the national media.Here's the transcript of his session with reporters:What is the team's approach to the offseason?
Baalke: Very methodical, like we were in the past. Our approach isn't going to change that way. There are certainly a lot of players out there, and a lot of players that fit us and can help us get better. We're always going to try to take care of our own first. And we're working through that process now. And, then, we'll look to what else is available.
What's your confidence level on whether QB Alex Smith is the guy who can take you to the next level?
Baalke: We're very confident in Alex. Our confidence in him has not wavered at all.RELATED: Alex Smith 2011 game logs
At first glance how does the offensive line look in the draft?
Baalke: I think the offensive line group is good. I think there's depth at the high end. I think there's depth through the middle of it, and there's depth at the low end. I think it's a good group top to bottom. The film is pretty good. How they do here has never been a big decision-maker for us. We look at the film and the eye in the sky and talent doesn't lie. We like the group that is here in a lot of ways, not only how they play but the types of individuals that are here. It's a quality group.What is the biggest value of the combine for you?
Baalke: When it's over (laughs). . . no . . . Getting a chance to see how they interact with each other on the field, watching the dynamics they have within their own group. Seeing how they go through the interview process and getting to know them a little bit better. How well can you get to know somebody in a 15-minute interview? Now days these guys are prepped and they go through the process. They know the questions they're going to be asked. It's a lot different than it was 15 years ago at my first combine. There's a lot more teaching that goes into the process from the way it was 15 years ago when they just showed up unprepared. Now, they're very prepared, not only for the physical part of it but also the mental part, the interview process and all of that. So it has changed.So you don't think it's that useful?
Baalke: I didn't say it's not useful. What I said was that it has changed. Obviously, we wouldn't all be here if there wasn't any use to it. But it's different than it was 15 years ago. We spend as much time as we can interviewing. We have our coaches not only in the big room doing the 60 interviews, but they're over in the train station area interviewing as many guys as we can. We come back, take the information, we put it on a scale and we continue to use that as we move forward because we're going to get other chances to see these guys. There are a lot of pro days going on in the month of March, there's 30 of these guys you're going to bring in during the course of the year, in the next month-and-a-half prior to the draft. There's opportunities to get to know them. And that's our job, to get to know them and find out if they fit our mentality of what we're looking for.Regarding the wide receiver position, both in free agency and the draft, what's your opinion?
Baalke: Obviously, there's some depth in the free-agent market this year. I'm not going to speak about any players individually. And I think really what I said about the O-line group really falls through with the receiver group. There are good players at every level of this draft. Some of those guys at the bottom end are going to end up being good players. You got to find out which of that group at the bottom of those 15 or 20 guys, which three or four are really going to springboard up and improve as a professional? That's why we're all here, to try to find that nugget that's going to lead us to one of those guys.RELATED: Maiocco -- 49ers' free-agent options at wide receiver
Does the secondary make the pass rush or the does the pass rush make the secondary?
Baalke: What comes first, the chicken or the egg? I don't know. Obviously, this year when you add a guy like Aldon (Smith) to the mix, 16 sacks (including playoffs), it certainly produces more on the back end. But was that the reason? Was the back end just better? I think it's a combination of the two. I think you need good players at both ends to be successful on the defensive side. Which one is more important? That's a tough question.What's the challenge of finding an outside linebacker in a 3-4?
Baalke: They're all projections, right? They don't play it in college. You don't get a chance outside of maybe a few opportunities to see it on film, dropping and doing the things you're going to ask him to do as a 34 'backer. And then you get the pro day workout or the combine workout or a combination of the two to judge whether they can or can't do it. But that's really not the most important thing for that position. They're getting paid to be pass-rushers. That's No. 1. Then, they're going to set edges and play the run and do those kinds of things. And what they give you in the drop game has to be just good enough.How much of a factor in evaluations is the 40 time?
Baalke: We put a little bit of stock into it. We're not going to say we don't. But we're not going to over-evaluate the 40 time. There are going to be those guys who come here and run in the upper 4.3s and lower 4.4s and you're going to turn on the film and you don't see it. They're going to be 4.6 guys all day long in pads. Once again, there's the mentality of do you buy into the watch or do you buy into the film? I hope that we continue to buy into the film. The eye-in-the-sky mentality. So we do look at it, but what we try to do is ask if what they run here is what they play to. Because it works the other way, too. There are guys who run 4.6 or higher here, but you turn on the film and you swear they're mid-4.4 guys. It works both ways.On Boise State QB Kellen Moore, how do balance productivity with the measurables?
Baalke: I think 32 teams are battling that right now. You're always looking at the film. And you look at the stats and the production and the winning. What's the most important thing for a quarterback to do? It's to win games, to find a way to win, to lead their team to victory. Kellen has done it better than any quarterback in the history of college football. So that has to mean something. What it means to me is going to be different than what it means to the next person. But you're certainly taking a look at what they've done in the past because that's usually a pretty good indicator of what they're going to do in the future.Why did Alex Smith take a step forward, and what's the next step for Alex Smith?
Baalke: Jim (Harbaugh) is going to be up here in a little while. I think that's something that's a better question for Jim. But for my perspective, is comfort, really having a very good comfort level with what he was being asked to do. The things he was being asked to do really fit into his makeup and his skillset. And that's not different from any other player at any other position. When you ask them to do what they're capable of doing, you usually have successful results. When you're asking players to do what they can't do, you usually have unsuccessful situations. So that's all we're trying to do. We're trying to bring guys into a system because not every player fits every system. So we're trying to bring in players who fit our system, that are going to be able to do what we ask them to do physically on the field and mentally on the field. The more guys you can bring in who can do those things, the better chance you have of being successful.Who important on and off the field is Justin Smith?
Baalke: There's not time in the day for me to talk about Justin. But you can sum it up in a couple of words. He's a pro's pro. There are few like him. I've only been at this 15 years in the NFL, and in my years of coaching, I haven't come across many like him -- if any. He's a different breed. He's a warrior. He's an every-day guy. We're two days out from our last game and he's back at it. He's already in the weight room and he's got a full lather going. And I look at time and I go, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'It's either here, or babysit at home, so I'm here.' I can't say enough about him. He's a great teammate and he's a great player.What do you feel about getting Carlos Rogers back? Is he a priority?
Baalke: All our guys are a priority. All the guys who went into us having the success that we had last year, they're all a priority. Unfortunately, it is a business so you can't have everybody back. We're going to do everything we can with Carlos as we will with our other unrestricted free agents because we want to keep that locker room together. The one thing that I can't overstate enough is the locker room and those guys in it. That's what gets you to 13-3. It's the coaching staff and the players coming together and believing in one another, and everybody believes in one another. So the more we can keep together, the better we're going to be moving forward.Did you watch the Super Bowl?
Baalke: I haven't watched either game. I haven't watched our last game (NFC Championship Game vs. New York Giants), and I haven't watched the Super Bowl. Not for any particular reason. We were busy during the Super Bowl. We had the scouts in and we were working. And the last game, I haven't had time to pop in, yet.From what you know about the Super Bowl, was that a game you could've won?
Baalke: Those were two great teams. They really were, and it's not about us. Make it about them. Those were two very good football teams that deserved to be there. And the Giants did an outstanding job and came away with it -- well-deserved. My hats off to them. They came out to our place and they beat a good football team in the 49ers. And they deserved what they got.After making a big jump from 2010 to 2011, what's the key this year?
Baalke: Last year's success doesn't mean any thing moving forward. We have a lot of work to do. I feel very good about the systems that we have in place and the coaching staff having a full offseason to really work with these guys and to take the systems and the schemes to a new level and the understanding of those schemes to a new level. There's a lot of work to do, and the locker room isn't going to be the same. There are going to be new faces, guys are going to have to come together. That process, every year, you try to bring in a group of guys that can come together like last year's group did. And there's no guarantees, but we're going to work hard at it. and we're going to do the same things we've done in the past -- the same things we ask our players to do, come to work every day with the mindset of getting better. And I feel like we can get better. There's a lot of things that have to happen for us to maintain and improve on what we did a year ago.How do you see the Alex Smith contract situation shaking out?
Baalke: No different than any of these other guys. We're working hard to keep our guys in place. There are a lot of things that go on in the negotiations process. We don't talk where we're at individually with any of our players, contractually. All I can say is we want to keep our group together. And we're going to do whatever we can from a financial standpoint to do that, realizing that it is a business and the locker room is going to change at some point.