San Francisco 49ers

49ers endured rough offseason but Baalke declares roster has no holes

Trent Baalke said the 49ers selected Brandon Thomas (No. 63) last year with the thought that he could take over for Mike Iupati at left guard.
Trent Baalke said the 49ers selected Brandon Thomas (No. 63) last year with the thought that he could take over for Mike Iupati at left guard. AP

The 49ers have no holes. If there was a theme that Trent Baalke wanted to get across in his pre-draft press conference today, it was that his team won't be forced to select a specific position when the draft gets underway in two weeks.

Whether it's cornerback, guard, wide receiver -- even kicker -- Baalke and the 49ers feel confident. "We feel very good at where this roster's at from the standpoint of going out and playing a game tomorrow," Baalke said.

* Cornerback. The 49ers lost both starters from last season, Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver, in free agency. Baalke, however, noted that would-have-been starter Tramaine Brock hardly played because of injury. He said he also feels good about three 2014 rookies, Dontae Johnson, Kenneth Acker and Keith Reaser. Acker and Reaser didn't play last season because they were injured but they are healthy now.

In addition, the 49ers added ex-Charger Shareece Wright in free agency. Wright originally was a third-round pick, but Baalke said medical issues caused him to be taken a little lower than his talent warranted. He said Wright was similar in some ways to Carlos Rogers, whose career took off when he arrived with the 49ers in 2011.

* Guard. The 49ers lost starter Mike Iupati to the Cardinals in free agency. Baalke said the team also has a lot of numbers at that spot, including Marcus Martin and Joe Looney. The frontrunner for Iupati's old spot, however, appears to be Brandon Thomas, who tore his ACL last April and whom the 49ers took in the third round.

"He looks very good at this point," Baalke said of Thomas and his recovery. "He's come off the knee injury very well. He's strong. He's moving well."

Thomas played left tackle for Clemson. Could he possibly fill the role of swing tackle with the 49ers? Baalke noted that one of Thomas' best games came against then-South Carolina pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney. "He's proven he can do it against the No. 1 pick in last year's draft," Baalke said.

* Wide receiver. Many 49ers observers (including this one) feel the 49ers must take at least one receiver early on in the upcoming draft. Baalke, however, says that's not the case. (Are you sensing a theme?)

He said there are only so many receivers who will get on the field and that two of them certainly will be Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. He also said speedy free-agent pickup Jerome Simpson has looked very good early on in the 49ers' offseason program. "We're fast ... er,” Baalke said. “We feel very good about that group of guys."

Other positions:

Inside linebacker. The 49ers were hit by back-to-back retirements by Patrick Willis and Chris Borland. But NaVorro Bowman is doing well in his recovery from ACL surgery and Baalke implied that the team is working on a contract extension for Michael Wilhoite. He is an exclusive rights free agent for the second straight year and would be a restricted free agent next year if a new deal is not made.

Defensive line. San Francisco still is waiting on Justin Smith to decide whether he wants to play a 15th -- and likely, final -- season. Baalke said that decision has no impact on the team’s draft plans. “We’re flexible in where we’re at, in terms of knowing what we need to do going into the draft, whether he’s here or not,” he said. “ Feel good about letting him make the decision that he feels is best for him and his family.”

Quarterback. The 49ers have just two on the roster, Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. They'll likely add at least one rookie, although Baalke noted the upcoming draft was not deep at the position. "I think right now our coaches are enjoying the fact that there are two (quarterbacks) because those two are getting a lot of coaching," Baalke said.

Kicker. Phil Dawson is 40 years old and entering the final year of his contract. Baalke, however, said there's no need to start developing a young kicker to take his place.

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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