Which college players have caught Trent Baalke's eye in the run-up to the draft? The notoriously tight-lipped 49ers general manager never would say. But he did reveal that it doesn't take him long to decide who makes his draft-day list and who gets crossed off.
"Have you ever read the book, 'Blink?'" Baalke said at the combine. "Keep it simple. The first time you look at a player, you're usually right."
The book, by Malcolm Gladwell, asserts that instant assessments, especially when made by someone with expertise in a field, are better and more accurate than long, deliberate ones. (Editorial: Gladwell makes this point in the first chapter and then makes the same point using less-convincing examples, over and over and over, in the remaining chapters).
Said Baalke last month: "Your gut is usually right. Through the process, you gather more and more information and you watch more and more film. And sometimes the process is so long and it's drawn out another two weeks that you end up talking yourself out of that first impression. So I always go back to the book 'Blink.' And if you've read it, you understand where I'm coming from. And if you haven't, you should. It's a great book."
That doesn't mean the 49ers' draft board won't change between now and May 8. The 49ers will attend pro-day workouts and host 20 or so draft-worth prospects at team headquarters. But at this stage, that information is more of the dotting-i's and crossing-t's variety. Baalke already knows who he likes. And he is so sure of himself that he often will trade ahead in the draft - including the first round - to grab his favorites.