Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories focused on the 49ers’ trek toward the 2014 NFL Draft (May 8-10). We'll have content every day, including position breakdowns, retrospectives, mock drafts, comments from general manager Trent Baalke and more. Bookmark our Road to the NFL Draft and set your DVRs for April 28 at 4:30pm, when the 49ers Draft Preview show debuts on CSN Bay Area.
SANTA CLARA – The top two football men with the 49ers are closely connected.
They might not be best friends, but coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke are also not mortal enemies, Baalke said on Friday with the draft less than two weeks away.
“To say that it’s always, you know, two rams butting heads is so false and misleading,” Baalke said. “To say there’s no tension would also probably be false and misleading. But it’s good tension. It’s creative tension. It couldn’t be better right now.
“If you want us to hug and mug for the cameras, you’re looking at the wrong two guys.”
The results have been pretty good in the three seasons with Harbaugh and Baalke working side by side with the 49ers. And their performance in this draft will go a long way toward determining if that success can be sustained.
“You either get the job done or you don’t,” Baalke said. “Jim is about getting the job done. And that’s what I’m about. And that’s what our ownership is about. Let’s get this thing done. I feel good about where we’re at. And I feel good about where we’re going.”
With 11 scheduled picks in the May 8-10 draft, the 49ers have the opportunity to secure an influx of players to help keep the 49ers among the top teams in the league for the foreseeable future.
Cornerback and wide receiver are clearly the team’s top needs. But the 49ers might also be tempted to add another outside pass-rusher early in the draft.
The 49ers own six of the top 100 picks in the draft. With their loss in the NFC Championship game, the 49ers own the No. 30 overall pick. They can be as aggressive as they see fit to secure just about any player they might target.
“Do we have the ammunition to make a jump and go get somebody? Yes,” Baalke said. “Are we motivated to do that? Depends.
“There are so many factors that go into it when you’re sitting at 30. Where do you need to go if you are targeting someone? You saw us last year make a move to go get somebody. Will we do that this year? I don’t know. I may know, but I certainly wouldn’t tell you if I did know.”
Baalke was the trigger man of a successful 2011 draft that delivered outside linebacker Aldon Smith, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, cornerback Chris Culliver, center Daniel Kilgore and fullback Bruce Miller, as well as backup running back Kendall Hunter.
The 2012 draft was a disaster, beginning with first-round pick A.J. Jenkins, who never caught a pass with the 49ers before he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for wide receiver Jon Baldwin.
The 49ers traded up from No. 31 to No. 18 last year to select safety Eric Reid, who started all 16 games and performed admirably in place of Dashon Goldson, who signed last offseason with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 49ers will be looking for some contributions this season from defensive linemen Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial, as well as running back Marcus Lattimore -- players who did not make an impact as rookies due to lingering injuries from their college seasons.
Clearly, a report this offseason that Baalke and Harbaugh communicate only via email was off the mark. In fact, they have spent a lot of time during the draft evaluation period to identify future 49ers.
“We’ve been in the draft room working our tail ends off to try to get this draft right,” Baalke said. “And (we) see a lot of things alike. The only thing you’re measured by in this business is wins and losses.”