Week 1 of the 2014 regular season might be 59 days away, but Trent Baalke is still focused on doing what he does best.
Sitting at his desk on what appears to be a routine offseason day, the San Francisco 49ers general manager finishes up writing an email, looking at his computer screen with the same attention to detail that has helped him assemble one of the most competitive rosters in the National Football League.
While Baalke’s players are on a break before the start of training camp, the team’s top personnel man is hard at work in his office, located in the back of SAP Performance Center overlooking the 49ers practice fields.
Baalke is still working as if there’s a game to play this week. The team has filled its 90th roster spot prior to camp, but Baalke is constantly evaluating the depth of the 49ers at all levels.
That’s even after a highly successful offseason program.
“We feel good, obviously, about the roster as it stands,” the GM said before noting, “constantly looking at opportunities to get better and there’s still avenues to do that. But I, feel real good about the team, feel real good about the offseason program that we had, that our coaches facilitated.”
Coupled with the unscathed roster, the team locked up its starting quarterback,
So while much of the talk this offseason has been about the 49ers looking to reach four consecutive conference title games, Baalke has a good idea about how San Francisco can maintain its success and breakthrough to win a Super Bowl: Use training camp to come together and form a team-first identity like the franchise’s three previous rosters.
“The interesting thing about any sport is you can look better on paper but not perform as well as a team,” Baalke said. “How we do in 2014 is going to be dependent on how quickly we can become a team.
“Individuals don’t win games. Teams win games. That’s all we’re trying to do is get a little bit better every day as a team.”
The teamwork was apparent in offseason workouts. Baalke said the team progressed throughout the practice sessions and coaches noted improvements from each stage of the program.
“I thought we got a little bit better every day and we finished with a very good minicamp,” Baalke said. “The guys were excited.”
The GM said the player’s post-minicamp enthusiasm was two-fold.
“One, they were going to get a little bit of a break,” Baalke said, “but I think they were also excited because I think they see what a lot of other people see: A very talented football team with a great opportunity ahead of them. And that’s all you can ask for in this business.”
When the 49ers reconvene for their first training camp practice on July 24, the GM wants his club to continue the same approach that has made the Baalke-Jim Harbaugh clubs so successful since the GM-coach tandem joined forces in January of 2011.
“It’s up to us to go out there and take it one play at a time, one day at a time, one game at a time and see where this team can go,” Baalke said. “But, that’ll all play itself out over the course of the fall and give us an idea moving forward just how good we can be.”