Originally posted by candlestick49er:
I disagree that Baalke may be the "luckiest" football guy.
First of all, it doesn't matter if you don't land the top prospect on your board (if he isn't worth trading up for). What matters is that you make a good selection. If your main target isn't there, then select the next available player you believe in. At the end of the day, you have to make the pick work regardless if you got the "top" guy or not. All good GMs have a backup plan, and obviously Baalke was prepared if Peterson wasn't available at #7.
Second of all, Baalke wasn't placed in a position where he was forced to draft Smith. There were several talented players available. He wasn't forced to pick Smith, he DECIDED to choose Aldon. If Smith develops into a dominant pass rusher, then Baalke deserves credit for making a great pick. He could have easily chosen Amukamara, Watt, Quinn, etc...but he went with Smith.
Lets say BOTH Peterson and Smith become top players at their respective positions. What would you say is the smarter move for a team whose philosophy is to build through the draft:
A) Give up several picks and/or player(s) to get a dominant CB
B) Keep all our picks while getting a dominant pass rusher
Its a no brainer. I respect that Baalke didn't trade up and overpay for who we assume was his top prospect. He obviously weighed out several options and went with what he felt was best for our team. That's not luck.
The Niners probably could have kept Baas if they were willing to make him a top 3 paid center. I think it was a smart move to let him walk because he isn't worth what the Giants are paying him. There isn't much of a drop-off between Goodwin and Baas skill wise. But contract-wise, we got an upgrade. It was a smart move by Baalke to replace an (overpaid) average center with a (cheap) average center. You assume that Goodwin was at the bottom of Baalke's list, but you don't know that for sure. What we do know is that it was a decision that worked out.
Yes, we are seeing a theme here...we aren't overpaying for players even if they happen to be at the top of our list. We could have overpayed for a good CB, but instead we got a good CB for cheap. Also, was Carlos Rogers number 8 on Baalke's CB list for 2011 or was he number 8 on your list? There were other CBs available (Marshall, Carr, etc) who Baalke could have signed instead of Rogers. Once again, Baalke ended up getting a solid (in this case a GOOD) player without overpaying (are we seeing a theme here?)
I haven't seen Watt play much, but I think our pass rush needed to be addressed more than the DL. Based on Aldon's play so far, I think he was a great pick especially with McDonald taking care of business at DE.
This is what makes Baalke a smart decision maker. Its low risk, high reward. Baalke's misses so far aren't hurting the team financially. If Braylon bounces back and finishes the year on a strong note, thats great for us. If he doesn't, that sucks but his cheap contract allows us to move on without cap problems.
I can't say that Baalke is the smartest, but I do believe he is one of the smartest. As for the training camp projection, that means nothing. With the lockout, most teams didn't have full rosters during training camp and were still in the process of adding players. Snyder-Rachal-Davis was a temporary lineup. Training camp depth charts aren't always projections of the regular season lineup. Snyder starting at center wasn't a good idea going into the season, which is why it was addressed with Goodwin. I don't see how this is a negative for Baalke because that training camp lineup is irrelevant today. The fact that it was addressed should be seen as a positive move by Baalke.
Excellent post, Candlestick.... I wish there were more posts like it in the zone....insightful, well articulated, and with evidence to back up your points.
Just to chime in on this myself, I think the "theme" of Baalke's tenure as GM thus far is value....getting the most bang for the buck. Given the fact that there is a salary cap in the NFL and that the Niners have had a history of cap problems (especially in the Donahue era), what Baalke's actions have demonstrated is that he understands the current realities of the league. I think it also shows that he realizes that he doesn't have to have elite guys at every position in order to build a winner. What it takes is some elite guys and a very good supporting cast with good depth.
Now, have the Niners been fortunate that so many of their FA guys and draft class have contributed so much right away?....probably. However, when one looks at the signings / choices that any GM makes in any sport, when those FAs work out and contribute, it makes the GM look good and if not, it makes the GM look bad. Part of that is luck...but...it is my view that it is more a matter of probability coming to fruition.
In other words, signing guys like Edwards, Rogers, Ginn, and Goodwin at lower than market value for one year are signings that are likely to work out well for the team. If the player tanks or is injured, it is a one year deal and he is gone after that season. If it works out well, then the team and the player are happy and the GM looks like a genius.
Another zoner said it much more succinctly than I.....low risk, high reward. I would even say this...low risk, good probability of success, high reward...
When one looks at Baalke's approach to the draft (which is inherently more risky), he still took a measured approach....getting guys that fill positions of need, will work hard, and fit the schemes of what the HC and coaches wanted to run.
To sum up, has Baalke been lucky?....a bit yes. Did he put himself in a good position to be successful.....YES!!!