Baalke won't wait
Baalke is a nervous, active first-round drafter — call him jumpy. He will trade up, or jump up, to make sure he gets the player he wants. Last year, he traded up from pick No. 31 all the way to pick No. 18 to draft Reid. In 2010, Baalke traded up two spots to draft Anthony Davis. Both times, draft pundits argued that Baalke traded up unnecessarily for those players. They would have been there for him if he had relaxed and waited, the gurus said. But Baalke doesn't relax or wait or risk losing a player he targets. He jumps.
And Baalke will not trade down if there is the slightest chance he will lose his target. That's why he drafted A.J. Jenkins in the first round instead of trading down. And when Baalke drafted Aldon Smith in 2011, many pundits argued that Baalke should have traded down to get Smith. Not Baalke's style.
Reaching for stars
Baalke does not care if people think he "reached" for a player in the first round. Every year, people tend to call his first-round pick a "reach." Reid was a reach. Jenkins was a reach (and a miss). Aldon Smith was a reach. Anthony Davis was a reach. Baalke is on a four-year streak of reaching in the first round. Expect him to keep reaching.
Baalke goes for the look
Baalke has a platonic ideal, a template, of what a player at each position should look like. "Our players tend to look similar at positions," Baalke said at his pre-draft interview a few weeks ago. "You try to get them to marry into your system. Systems matter."
Eric Reid was almost identical in size and athleticism to the free safety he replaced — Dashon Goldson. In this draft, the 49ers' need a cornerback to replace Carlos Rogers, who signed with the Raiders this offseason. Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller is a cornerback whohas almost the same size, speed and agility as Rogers.
The 49ers also need a No. 3 wide receiver. In the past, Baalke has tried to fill this position with smaller receivers who can run behind defenses. Baalke drafted A.J. Jenkins in 2012 and recently signed Brandon Lloyd, small, explosive receivers.In this draft, Odell Beckham Jr. fits that mold.
Baalke drafts players based on their best college season, not their most recent college season. Aldon Smith had 11.5 sacks as a freshman at Missouri, but just three as a sophomore. And Eric Reid played better as a sophomore than as a junior.
In this draft, there are two players who had elite seasons two years ago Baalke could draft at the end of Round 1 — wide receiver Marqise Lee from USC, and cornerback Bradley Roby from Ohio State. Both players were considered top-15 picks before last season.
Baalke is a man of consistency.