SANTA CLARA — General manager Trent Baalke insisted Wednesday the 49ers are "not a need-based drafting team." That should hold true next week: the reigning NFC champs don't have many needs to address with their 13 picks.
That war chest of picks gives the 49ers leverage to maneuver up (and down) the draft board, which Baalke has been prone to do in his three years overseeing their selections.
"There's a lot of variables in this year's draft, probably more than any draft I've been part of," Baalke said.
The 49ers have five picks among the first 93 selections, starting with No. 31 overall next Thursday night, and follow the next day with the second pick of the second round (No. 34), which they acquired in last month's trade of Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Said Baalke of potential trades: "The wheeling and dealing can start at any time. Have we done any of that? Not necessarily."
Drafting a free safety is on the 49ers' to-do list after Dashon Goldson's departure in free agency to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"There are players capable of stepping in and starting in this draft," Baalke said of safety prospects. "Do we feel it's a necessity to do that? I say no. We feel very comfortable with the players we have. Is it an area we'd like to add depth and more competition, it certainly is."
Rather than dwell on A.J. Jenkins' zero-reception rookie season as their top pick in 2012, Baalke deferred to the notion this is a "developmental league" and that draft picks need three seasons before being fairly evaluated.
For the first time in three years as general manager, Baalke did not personally attend any college's pro-day workouts and preferred to stay "in-house" evaluating prospects after the 49ers' Super Bowl run.
"You're trying to create as much competition as you can," Baalke said. "You can never have too much talent."
Here are some other highlights of Baalke's pre-draft press conference:
-- All but six or seven players are participating in the offseason program that began Monday. Among those absent is wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who's in the process of moving out here after being traded from the Baltimore Ravens last month, Baalke said.
-- Quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew praise for working on his conditioning in Atlanta the previous two months. Asked where Kaepernick must improve this offseason, Baalke noted Kaepernick's techniques, footwork, and lower-body mechanics. "He's doing an excellent job," Baalke said. "There's no harder worker. I can say that about a lot of guys. This team works."
-- Baalke met face-to-face with Nnamdi Asomugha three times — including an Easter lunch — before the veteran cornerback agreed to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal. "I wouldn't say we went out of our way to look for a corner that's 6-(foot)-1, 6-2," Baalke said. "It's a situation where stars aligned. He wanted to come back to the Bay Area. ... It was a mutual understanding. He wanted to be here. We figured out a way to get him here because we wanted him here."
-- Quarterback Alex Smith drew interest from "multiple teams" before the 49ers dealt him to the Chiefs for a second-round pick this year and a conditional third-round selection next year, Baalke said. "We never felt we were in a position we had to trade him," Baalke said. "Kansas City was clearly the most interested in getting this done and getting this done quickly."
Smith continued to work out at the 49ers facility even after the March 12 trade became official, according to Baalke, adding: "We worked awfully hard to make sure that relationship stayed positive and stayed strong. That was a focal point."
-- Baalke is open to drafting a quarterback despite recently acquiring Colt McCoy to compete with Kaepernick and backup Scott Tolzien. "If there's a quarterback there that you feel good about, and you're in position to take him, and your gut says draft that guy, I wouldn't disagree with that."
-- Defensive tackle Justin Smith (triceps) and outside linebacker Aldon Smith (labrum) continue to rehabilitate from offseason surgeries. Justin Smith is working out although trainers are "being a little conservative," said Baalke, who added: "Aldon is coming along as well. Probably not as far along, but he's getting back. They'll be fine."
-- Glenn Dorsey was the first player the 49ers signed in free agency last month, and his "versatility" along the defensive line is what Baalke praised most.
-- The 49ers have 53 local prospects working out Wednesday, including Joe Montana's oldest son, Nate, who'll wear No. 13 rather than his dad's retired No. 16. Four players attending the workout but not participating are Oregon's Kiko Alonso (linebacker) and Stanford's Zach Ertz (tight end), Chase Thomas (linebacker) and Levine Toilolo (tight end).
-- Charles Woodson, one of the first free agents the 49ers hosted, remains both unsigned and on the 49ers' radar. Said Baalke: "We feel he can still play this game. We'll continue to look at that and see how the draft goes. Charles is certainly somebody we're still interested in."