One of the reasons why the San Francisco 49ers have become consistent contenders over the course of the past three seasons is the way the team has been built.
General manager Trent Baalke is a staunch believer in building through the draft and it shows. ESPN's Kevin Seifert wrote Monday about how NFL teams are built. The 49ers are in a four-way tie for the second most homegrown players. The 49ers have 30 players on their roster who they drafted. The Green Bay Packers lead the NFL with 33 players.
On offense, only receiver Anquan Boldin and guard Alex Boone are projected starters for the upcoming season who the 49ers did not draft. Boone was signed as an undrafted free agent and has spent his entire NFL career with the 49ers. On defense, including injured linebacker NaVarro Bowman and troubled linebacker Aldon Smith, six projected starters were drafted plus cornerback Tramaine Brock, who was signed as an undrafted free agent.
Don't expect the 49ers' reliance on home-grown talent to change. The team's free-agency M.O. is always to keep their own players. That likely won't change soon with the Colin Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree, Smith and Mike Iupati all currently scheduled to be free agents next year.
"We are always going to try to keep our own guys rather than go out in free agency and pay guys that haven't invested themselves in this place like these guys have," Baalke said Friday.
The result is a roster full of players who they have handpicked and developed in what has become a winning system.