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April 17, 2013
Baalke speaks: Says Justin Smith has no limitations, talks about Asomugha, others

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General manager Trent Baalke today said that defensive lineman Justin Smith has "no restrictions, no limitations" following February surgery to repair his triceps tendon and that both Smith and Aldon Smith will "be fine" for the upcoming season.

Aldon Smith had surgery to repair a labrum tear in late February.

"They might be a little conservative with it at this stage, which you'd expect them to be," Baalke said of Justin Smith. "Aldon's coming along as well. He's probably not as far along (as Justin Smith), but he's certainly getting back."

Asked if Justin Smith has returned to the weight room, a smile came across Baalke's face. "Oh yeah," he said. "Oh yeah."

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Baalke said that he and Nnamdi Asomugha had three meetings, including an Easter lunch, before the 49ers signed the veteran cornerback to a one-year deal. The purpose, Baalke said, was transparency.

"Any time you're dealing with a veteran player - and I should say any player - I believe transparency is very important," he said. "In other words, no b.s. Just get to the point. And players respect that. So any time you're dealing with a veteran that knows that his career has only got a couple of years left to it most likely - you have to make sure that what they're looking for and what you're offering - that there's a match. Because if there's not, that's where things go bad."

Baalke presumably made it clear that a starting spot - indeed, a roster spot - is not guaranteed. Asomugha will have to compete with the five cornerbacks already on the roster: Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox and Tramaine Brock.

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The 49ers GM said that maintaining a good relationship with quarterback Alex Smith was paramount for the 49ers even when it became clear that they would be able to trade him.

Mission accomplished.

Asked whether Smith continued to work out at the 49ers' facility even after news in late February that Smith would be traded to Kansas City, Baalke said, yes. In fact, he continued to work out - in 49ers gear - even after the trade to the Chiefs became official in mid March.

"What we promised was that we were going to do everything we could to fulfill his desires," Baalke said. "And we were able to do that."

Baalke said there were multiple teams interested in Smith but that "Kansas City was clearly the most interested in getting this done and getting it done quickly."

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Baalke said that all but "six or seven" players have shown up for the team's voluntary offseason strength and conditioning program, which began on Monday. The group in Santa Clara includes receiver Michael Crabtree. Baalke said that another receiver, Anquan Boldin, is in the process of moving his family and has not yet joined his teammates at the team facility.

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Baalke said this was the first year he hasn't attended a single college pro day in the run-up to the draft. The 2012 season lasted so long, he said, that he was busy performing tasks in March and April that in previous, non-playoff seasons he completed in January and February.

He has, however, conducted interviews both at the scouting combine and during players' official visits to Santa Clara this month. He estimated he's spoken to between 120 and 150 players.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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