SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Still trying to figure out Trent Baalke’s apparent affinity for South Carolina football players?
Think “old ball coach” and take a look at Baalke’s resume.
Because before Baalke joined the San Francisco 49ers in 2005 and later became their general manager, he was a scout with Washington from 2001 through 2004. And it was there that his career path intersected with Steve Spurrier, who was Washington’s coach in 2002 and 2003 before he want back to college with the Gamecocks.
“Well, you know they’re going to be well-coached,” Baalke said of South Carolina prospects. “They're going to come into the league, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and that’s nothing against the defense, but on the offensive side of the ball you know they're going to come into the league well-versed. They're going to be able to pick up the information.
“They're going to usually, almost always, be able to on play three downs, if it's a (running) back. And they're prepared.”
Baalke was speaking in the aftermath of this year’s draft, the third straight year, and fourth in five, the Niners selected a player from South Carolina.
This year, they took two Gamecocks, running back Mike Davis in the fourth round and tight end Busta Anderson in the seventh.
“We got a little bit of information, a little inside information,” Baalke said with a laugh, referring to his South Carolina pipeline.
“That's a player that the scouts did a tremendous job with getting information, as they always do,” Baalke said of Davis. “He's a guy that's been intriguing for us. Been pretty much in the same place on our board the entire draft process, which is always nice.
“Sometimes you get guys that move up, move down, based on different information. This is a guy that stayed really in the same spot the whole way through.”
In 2014, South Carolina receiver Bruce Ellington was drafted in the fourth round by the Niners, after running back Marcus Lattimore was taken in the fourth round in 2013. Cornerback Chris Culliver (third round) was the Gamecock drafted by the 49ers in 2011.
Plus, the Niners signed Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson as an undrafted free agent.
“Obviously, (Spurrier) throws the ball all over the place,” Baalke said. “So, if you're a running back in that system, you’ve got to be able to catch the ball and you’ve got to be able to pass (block).
“(Davis has) shown the ability to do that. He's a three-down back in the National Football League. That was what we were looking for.”
As well as two other Gamecocks in Anderson and Thompson.