NEW YORK - When San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke stepped to the podium at the NFL Scouting Combine, he wasn't sure what his team would do with 14 draft picks it had accumulated, but he wouldn't rule anything out.
"We've always had the opinion of, we're not afraid to move up, we're not afraid to stand pat and pick where the selection is, and we're certainly not afraid to move back," Baalke said. "We've been successful doing all of the above."
So far at the 2013 NFL Draft, Baalke and the 49ers have done all of the above. They moved up in the first round to fill the biggest need on the roster with LSU safety Eric Reid. On day two, the team traded down in the second round and landed Tank Carradine, arguably the best pass rusher in the draft when healthy. And on day three, the 49ers have stayed put, stuck to their board and accumulated a ton of talent.
In addition to Reid and Carradine, San Francisco has added Vance McDonald at tight end, Corey Lemonier for the pass rusher, Quinton Patton at wide receiver and Marcus Lattimore at running back. Each pick presented value that Baalke couldn't pass up, and as a result, the team should have plenty of competition for roster spots when training camp opens up.
Already one of the best pass rushing teams in the league, San Francisco added two guys that have a chance to develop into impact players at outside linebacker. After taking a shot on A.J. Jenkins at the end of the first round last year, the 49ers grab a much more polished wide receiver in Patton. The latest pick, Lattimore, would have been a first round pick if not for a pair of devastating knee injuries. San Francisco has the luxury of being patient with him and allowing him to develop into the player he was once on track to become.
As names continue to fly off the board at Radio City Music Hall, Baalke and the 49ers, along with a handful of other teams, continue to demonstrate that the third day of the draft is vital and that they are on another level when it comes to evaluating talent and identifying value.
"I don't know that I have a magic answer for what the key is," Baalke said at the combine. "You set your board, you work diligently at it, you try to find football players. We've always tried to let the film speak for us."
Oh, and they still have five more picks. The rich just keep getting richer.