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Grant Cohn: Trent Baalke plays it cool

  • San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, right, gestures at head coach Jim Harbaugh, left, during the team's NFL football training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Apparently, there are no hard feelings on Baalke's part regarding the Saints' targeting of San Francisco players in their bounty program. Baalke recently reached out to suspended former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to discuss the matter. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

After Day 1 of free agency, I thought the 49ers' moves were weak. Not bad, but weak.

Trent Baalke didn't really do anything. He cut Carlos Rogers, let Donte Whitner leave and replaced him with an older, cheaper safety – Antoine Bethea – traded a sixth-round pick for Blaine Gabbert, and traded a conditional seventh-round pick for Jonathan Martin.

Woo hoo!

Meanwhile, the Broncos signed the top cornerback on the market – Aqib Talib – and the Patriots signed Darrelle Revis to a one-year, $12 million contract.

Now it is Day 4 of free agency, and the 49ers still haven't done much.

I'm beginning to admire that.

Not the Gabbert trade. That was silly. But I admire everything else Baalke has done this week.

I admire Baalke cutting Rogers. Too old and too expensive.

I admire Baalke letting Whitner go. Not worth what the Browns paid him -- $11 million guaranteed. Whitner is a good player, but he struggles when he has to cover tall tight ends. He seemed better than he really was the past few seasons because he played on a great defense and didn't have to cover tight ends very often – Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman mostly handled that responsibility.

A bad GM would have re-signed Whitner for sentimental reasons. Whitner is a leader in the locker room. He brings "chemistry" to the defense. Those clich?. But Baalke is not sentimental about his players. "See you, Donte. Enjoy Cleveland."


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