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SANTA CLARA

Lowell Cohn: "Trent, are you going to draft a quarterback?"

Trent Baalke: "I would never tell you, Lowell, if we're going to draft anybody."

Cohn: "Let me rephrase it in a better way. Is it possible that you might draft a quarterback?"

Baalke: "It's possible that we could draft any position. The answer would be yes, but that's for any position. We're not opposed to drafting any position whether it's inside linebacker, defensive line, safety, quarterback, running back."

Cohn: "Do you feel you're deep enough at quarterback right now?"

Baalke: Pause. Cough. More pause. "You're not going to get a straight answer from me."

Cohn: "I'm a journalist. I'm trying to do my job."

Baalke: "Yes."

Cohn: "You do (feel you're deep enough at quarterback)?"

Baalke: "Yes."

Cohn: "Is that a straight answer?"

Baalke: "I don't know."

Give Baalke credit for being honest about withholding the truth. He must be guarded a week before the draft, can't show his cards — or his choices — to the other teams. We all understand that. And give him credit for that final answer — "I don't know." It was candid and, in its way, cute.

So, let's rewind a moment. Baalke walked into the defensive meeting room where Jim Harbaugh holds his weekly news conferences/torture sessions at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesdays. Always neat as a pin with shoes so shiny you could go full migraine just looking at them, Baalke sat in a chair facing us. Twenty or so reporters placed our tiny digital recorders in front of him. The recorders were scattered haphazardly on the table, some here, some there.

Before getting started with the press conference, Baalke meticulously hand-arranged every recorder so they formed a neat row in front of him, the recorders looking like an offensive line between him and the slobs we are. I have not inspected Baalke's office — I've never been in there — but I assume it's as neat as his personality, as orderly as his draft list, as precise and perfect as that line of recorders.

Then he got down to work and his work involved not telling anything. So, now I have something to tell him.

Do the Niners need to draft a quarterback, Trent?

Heck, yes.

They need to draft a cornerback more than they need to draft a quarterback. That's obvious. Carlos Rogers can't guard slot receivers. Tarell Brown is short. Chris Culliver got murdered in the Super Bowl. And, in spite of what you may think or hope, Nnamdi Asomugha is washed up.

But the 49ers definitely need to draft a quarterback after a cornerback, and here's why.

Colin Kaepernick is good. He stood the league on its head for a while until he didn't stand the league on its head in the Super Bowl — especially at the very end when he could not lead the 49ers into the end zone for the winning touchdown.

This is no knock on Kaepernick. It merely is the truth. The 49ers expect him to improve next season and stand the league on its head all over again. And he may very well do that. It's also possible the league will adjust to him and make his job harder. You don't know and I don't know.

It's always good to have another quarterback, a threat, behind your starter — the way Alex Smith was a threat behind Kaepernick and the way Kaepernick was a threat behind Alex Smith.

And remember this. Kaepernick is a running quarterback. Running quarterbacks get hurt. Just ask Robert Griffin III. It's not like Pete Carroll of the Seahawks or Jeff Fisher of the Rams are going to say to their players during a game, "Would you look at that Kaepernick run. It's a thing of beauty. Please don't hurt him, guys."

On the contrary, every opposing coach wants to blast Kaepernick, hit him when he's vulnerable, take him out. And Kaepernick is vulnerable more often than a non-running quarterback. So was Steve Young and he suffered multiple concussions.

Imagine Kaepernick gets hurt, has to miss one game or more than one game. Who is the Niners' next man up as things stand now?

Colt McCoy?

You've got to be kidding.

McCoy doesn't even reach the Alex Smith level, and the Niners were none too eager to keep Smith. Smith went first in the 2005 draft. McCoy was a third-rounder in 2010. No comparison.

McCoy scares no one — not throwing, not running. I've heard his arm described as a noodle arm. Harbaugh may coach him up a little, but McCoy will not take the 49ers where they want to go. I don't believe Scott Tolzien can do that, either.

If the 49ers are serious about winning the Super Bowl, they must have a serious quarterback behind Kaepernick. They must pick up a gifted veteran or draft a real talent.

That was on my mind at Baalke's news conference. As a service to you, I asked about his quarterbacks. He was not able to provide a straight answer, although his line of digital recorders was straight as a ruler.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.