Trent Baalke insists that unlike most of his recent draft picks with ACL injuries, third-round pick Will Redmond, a cornerback out of Mississippi State, will be ready for training camp.
The San Francisco 49ers took Redmond during the second day of the three-day NFL draft in Chicago.
Redmond suffered his injury in practice on Oct. 22. His surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews, who also handled linebacker NaVorro Bowman’s knee procedure in 2014, and Baalke, the 49ers’ general manager, said Redmond would be back at full speed in July.
“He will be healthy,” Baalke said. “He will be ready to play.”
He said the 49ers liked Redmond’s plucky style of play and loved his character. He said Redmond was quick enough to compete inside at nickel cornerback and big enough to perhaps have a role on the outside. One of the 49ers’ cornerback starters likely will be Tramaine Brock. The other is undecided with Dontae Johnson, Kenneth Acker, Marcus Cromartie, Keith Reaser and Redmond competing for a spot.
“Quickness – he’s a quick-twitch athlete,” Baalke said when asked to describe Redmond’s most arresting attribute. “He can stick his foot in the ground, he transitions very well, and he’s fearless. He’s 5-10, 190 pounds – somewhere in that neighborhood – and he’s not afraid to stick his head in there. And when you go inside in the nickel position – that’s a tough position to play.”
ACL injuries have become as common a thread to Baalke’s drafts as long arms and big hands.
He’s now drafted seven players since 2013 who have suffered the injury: defensive lineman Tank Carradine, running back Marcus Lattimore, fullback Trey Millard, cornerback Reaser, wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, guard Brandon Thomas and now Redmond.
Of that group above, Carradine is the only one who was active at any point during his rookie season, and he required a second surgery after his first year in the league.
But Baalke is confident Redmond will be different. The team had him in for an official visit, at which point they gave him a full physical. He also received a good report during his medical re-check in Indianapolis earlier this month.
“It was a very standard procedure,” Baalke said. “He’s on schedule, slightly ahead of schedule. We’ve had a lot of contact with this young man.”
Baalke has said in the past that it makes sense to draft injured players because he often can get them later than their talent warrants. In addition, recent 49ers teams were so loaded with talent that he was able to stash ACL patients on injury lists during the regular season.
The 49ers’ current roster, however, is not nearly as full as its recent counterparts. And while it’s still early for players like Smelter and Reaser, none of the players who had ACL issues has turned into a star or even a starter.
Still, Baalke defended his pick on Friday.
“It’s part of the game,” he said. “Frank Gore had three of ’em in college, right? Guys come back. Some come back even better. Most come back, and every now and then it doesn’t work.”