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February 23, 2012
Baalke: NFC Championship game still too painful to watch


General manager Trent Baalke has this in common with legions of 49ers fans still smarting over their team's overtime loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship: He hasn't watched a replay of the game, and he has no plans to. "To be honest with you, I have not looked at the tape of the last game, and I quite honestly may never look at that tape and watch that game for personal reasons," Baalke said Thursday at the scouting combine.

In fact, Baalke admitted he didn't even watch the Super Bowl. (Spoiler: the Giants won). He called a scouting meeting the day of the game. And though he allowed his staff to go home when the game started at about 3:30 p.m., Baalke continued working in the office. The timing of the meeting was no coincidence. "There might be some stuff I could get" from watching the game film of those games, Baalke said. "I choose to move on. ... There might be a time this summer when I pop it on and take a look at it. And there might not be. It may sit in the archives forever, as far as I'm concerned."

Baalke was asked about Michael Crabtree's performance in the playoffs and whether he was satisfied that the team's No. 1 draft pick was indeed a No. 1 receiver. Baalke said it was hard to tell because Crabtree's foot injury caused the receiver to get off to a staggered start this season. Still, he said he liked Crabtree's work ethic, he liked the chemistry he had with Alex Smith and expects big things from Crabtree with a full offseason this year.

"Whether he can define himself as a true No. 1 in the national football league or not remains to be seen but certainly happy with the progress that he made," Baalke said. Still, he said the 49ers definitely were in the market for receivers, whether through the draft or free agency or both.

"Obviously when you have only two guys under contract for next year, it's an area you have to address," Baalke said. "Both Teddy (Ginn) and Josh (Morgan) being unrestricted free agents, that leaves us with two guys under contract. It definitely is an area that needs to be addressed. And whether we address it with our own in re-signing or whether we address it with other free agents that are available or whether we do it through the draft or a combination remains to be seen."

Actually, the 49ers have three receivers under contract: Crabtree, Kyle Williams and Joe Hastings, who is signed through 2013. The team also had been using rookie Colin Jones at receiver at the end of the season, although the 49ers still see him mainly as a special teams player.

Speaking of Williams, Baalke said he had no doubt that the receiver would bounce back from his two-fumble performance against the Giants. "I'm not curious at all," he said. "I've had great discussions with Kyle. And my message to him will stay between us, but he's a pro. He's been around it his whole life. His dad's a GM. ... he knows how to handle himself. I was proud of the way he handled himself afterwards, and I have no doubt Kyle's going to come back hungrier and even more prepared than he was a year ago."

Baalke said that talks are underway with Alex Smith and the team's other pending unrestricted free agents but that it was too early to say whether the 49ers would lock up any of their players before March 13.

Baalke also was mum on whether the team would use the franchise tag. Dashon Goldson - his tag number is $6.2 million - appears to be the most likely candidate. "That's a possibility," he said. "We prefer not to use it but we're not opposed to using it. There's positives and negatives any time you use those tags. We're going to look at all of our options like we always do, be very methodical in our process like we always are. I look at it like it's a marathon; it's not a sprint."

Baalke would not say whether cornerback Shawntae Spencer, who is due to make $3.2 million in base salary in 2012, has been allowed to seek a trade. He didn't deny it, either, and it remains likely that Spencer, at times the No. 5 cornerback this past season, will not be back with the 49ers.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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