The questions thousands of 49ers fans are wondering right now: Why did the team take A.J. Jenkins so early, and would he have been available later?
Trent Baalke doesn't think so. He fielded a trade request by the Minnesota Vikings that presumably would have given the 49ers Minnesota's second-round pick (35th overall) as well as at least one other pick, probably a fourth rounder. The 49ers knew the Vikings wanted Harrison Smith, the Notre Dame safety they ended up taking at pick No. 29, so they only would have had to sweat out four more picks.
With Stephen Hill, Rueben Randle, Coby Fleener and others still on the board, wouldn't Jenkins still have been available at pick No. 35? Baalke didn't want to risk it. "When I used to work for coach (Bill) Parcells and Dick Hailey, Dick's mentality and coach's mentality was, if you like a player, take them," Baalke said. "If you like them at 30, what's the difference if you take him at 30 or 33 or 34? If you like the player, take them because if you don't take them and you trade back, you may not like the outcome."
Baalke pointed to last year's first-round pick, Aldon Smith, who also was a surprise. The 49ers picked Smith at No. 7, and Baalke said if the team had traded down just two spots, Smith wouldn't have been there. The Titans and Cowboys were picking after the 49ers that year.
"That sticks in your mind when you're sitting in the chair that I sit in," Baalke. "If you like the player, take him."
Which other teams were interested in Jenkins? He also visited the Ravens, Jaguars, Chiefs, Lions and Rams. The Rams will be on the clock when the second round starts at 4 p.m. and they also have the seventh pick today. They badly need a wideout and were taking a hard look at Jenkins in the run up to the draft. Not only did the Rams host Jenkins, they worked him out at Illinois and graded him similarly to Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
-- Matt Barrows