SANTA CLARA –- General manager Trent Baalke sees a difference between some of the recent 49ers draft picks who were coming off ACL surgeries and the cornerback the team selected on Friday.
“He will be healthy and he will be ready to go,” Baalke said of Mississippi State cornerback Will Redmond, whom the 49ers drafted in the third round with the No. 68 overall pick.
Redmond sustained a torn right ACL during a practice in October. Baalke said he expects Redmond to be cleared to compete for a spot in training camp.
“We had him valued higher than where we took him,” Baalke said. “The injury was a very standard procedure. He’s on schedule to slightly ahead of schedule. We’ve had a lot of contact with this young man.”
Redmond was one of the 49ers’ 30 official pre-draft visits. The 49ers’ medical staff gave him a physical. The team has also remained in close contact with noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery.
Baalke said he expects Redmond to immediately compete for a spot, mostly likely against Jimmie Ward as a nickel back. Ward will begin transitioning more to safety, Baalke said.
“You can never have enough cover guys,” Baalke said. “Sixty-seven percent of what you do in this game is nickel and dime. To get a young man who can come in here and compete –- he can play outside and he can play inside.
“The versatility of Jimmie to go along with the versatility of this young man and the versatility of the group. . . We have a lot of young players who finally got some playing experience last year. I’d look for that group to step up and really make that second-year jump for a lot of those, in terms of strength, knowledge of the game and just the understanding NFL football.”
Redmond joins a group of cornerbacks that includes veteran Tramaine Brock and third-year players Kenneth Acker, Dontae Johnson and Keith Reaser.
When asked if there was a temptation to select a quarterback with the No. 68 pick, Baalke said the 49ers had their sights set on Redmond.
“I wouldn’t say that we’ve moved on from any position,” Baalke said. “So whether that’s quarterback, running back, any position. We’re going to trust the board. This was the highest-rated young man on the board. And we felt very comfortable with him at a position where we wanted to add some more competition. So we’re excited about the pick.”
Baalke described Redmond as an explosive, quick-twitch athlete who can jump and make plays on the ball. He recorded five interceptions in his college career. He served as a backup for two seasons before sustaining the knee injury after seven starts in his senior season.