-- General manager Trent Baalke didn't mince words when it came to the 49ers' interest in Panthers free-agent pass rusher Greg Hardy. The team doesn't have any, he said firmly.
"There's been no contact with Greg Hardy or any representative of his," Baalke said during a half-hour sit down with reporters on Wednesday. “There is no interest that we’ve shown, nor will we show, in bringing Greg Hardy into this program."
Bleacher Report reported this week that the 49ers would have the most interest in Hardy, who had been involved in a high-profile domestic abuse case in North Carolina and who, while remaining on the commissioner’s so-called “exempt list,” is a free agent. Prosecutors dismissed charges against Hardy last month after they said the accuser in the case couldn't be located.
Baalke and the 49ers currently are dealing with their own police-blotter item, one involving fullback Bruce Miller who was arrested this month on suspicion of spousal battery, a misdemeanor. Baalke said the team still is in the information-gathering stage.
“We understand the gravity of where we’re at,” he said. “That’s been well documented over the last six to 12 months.”
The team also signed a player with a troubled past, wide receiver Jerome Simpson, last week. Asked how the 49ers could reconcile Simpson's three arrests in the last three years with the team's often-repeated motto of "winning with class," Baalke said the 49ers did plenty of background on Simpson.
"Like any player that we bring in, we do our due diligence," he said. "We really look into the situation. I think you remember a couple of years back, we brought a player in, (cornerback) Perrish Cox, and it worked out well. Every situation is different, and we felt good about the information we gathered on Jerome. We not only spoke with a lot of people that worked with him, we spoke with people that played with him. And we also brought him in here and met with him for a full day before we made that decision -- very similar to what we did with Perrish."
Simpson, 29, didn’t play in 2014 and has been in legal trouble three times since 2012. In January of that year, Simpson, then a member of the Bengals, was arrested after he had 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana sent to his Kentucky home. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail and three years' probation on a drug-related charge.
The next year, he was arrested on suspicion of DWI and later pleaded guilty to careless driving and refusal to submit to a breath test. In July he was cited for violating a limited license, marijuana possession and open bottle after being pulled over in a traffic stop in Minnesota. The 49ers' two-year deal doesn't carry any risk to the team financially. That is, the team can part ways with him without any repercussions to the salary cap.
Other Baalke items:
* Baalke said that outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks will remain with the team this season. There was widespread speculation that Brooks' salary -- in addition to him being benched for bad behavior twice last year -- would lead to his release. Not so, said Baalke. “It was speculation based on our cap number and the cash flow that we had leading into free agency," he said. "A lot of assumptions were made, but wrongly.” Patrick Willis' sudden retirement has freed salary-cap space that perhaps the team wasn't anticipating earlier in the offseason.
* He said the team would continue to give veteran defensive linemen Justin Smith time to make a decision as far as his possible retirement. Smith told The Bee this week that he likely would come to a conclusion next week.
* Baalke said that NaVorro Bowman's comeback from ACL surgery was "real good" and that the inside linebacker was starting to feel like himself. "You can tell he’s working,” he said. “And I think he feels good. He’s really starting to feel like it’s coming back to where he wants it.”
* Baalke also had positive things to say about rehabilitating players like S Jimmie Ward (foot), running back Kendall Hunter (ACL) and guard Brandon Thomas (ACL). He said he thought Hunter and Thomas would take part in the team's offseason program that begins next month.
* He confirmed that the team met with free-agent running back Reggie Bush today. Bush has several suitors, and it doesn't appear as if any deals will be struck soon.
* Hey Trent, what about that report that you were trying to trade quarterback Colin Kaepernick? Did any other teams call and inquire about him? "Absolutely none,” Baalke said emphatically. “No conversations. With any team. Regarding our quarterback. Period. Exclamation point."
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.