BOCA RATON, Fla. – The 49ers’ biggest splash of free agency officially occurred Tuesday with the signing of guard Zane Beadles.
When asked to describe what the 49ers have done in the first two weeks of free agency, general manager Trent Baalke was succinct.
“Well, we haven’t done much,” he said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings.
The 49ers' inactivity has been predictable, though with approximately $60 million cap space there appeared to be a likelihood the 49ers would be a lot more aggressive than is typically their nature.
The organization has signed just one high-priced free agent on the first day of free agency in Baalke’s five years as general manager. A year ago, the 49ers uncharacteristically signed wide receiver Torrey Smith to a five-year, $40 million contract.
“We’re a draft-and-develop team,” Baalke said. “That’s what we are. And when we have an opportunity to add a player that we feel can help us, we’ve done that in the past.”
And it does not appear the 49ers are going to make any notable acquisitions, either.
Baalke said the 49ers have not had any contact with free-agent quarterback Robert Griffin or his agents. Baalke said the organization’s intent is for Colin Kaepernick to remain on the roster. Cleveland, Denver and the New York Jets – the same teams that spoke to the 49ers about Kaepernick – have shown interest in Griffin.
Said Baalke, “Right now, we're focused on some other things. Will there be a time where we could sit down (with Griffin)? That certainly could happen. But it hasn't happened to this point."
Beadles, 29, is the only player the 49ers have acquired this offseason who is in line for a starting job.
In Beadles’ six-year career, he has played in every game while starting 94 of the 96 games in which he appeared.
“He’s shown durability,” Baalke said. “He’s a leader. He’s a very smart football player, a very technique-sound football player that fits the up-tempo style that we’re looking to play.”
The 49ers relied heavily on young players after a good chunk of the veteran nucleus responsible for three consecutive trips to the NFC Championship game from the 2011-’13 regular seasons was no longer around.
The 49ers staggered to a 5-11 to set in motion the firing of coach Jim Tomsula after one season and the hiring of Chip Kelly.
“The advantage of last season was the number of young players who got quality play time,” Baalke said. “You should hope that now they’re coming back in Year 2 of what they’re doing, they’ve been on an NFL field and they know what they need to do, it’s a jump in their development. It usually is.”
Baalke cited the experience that benefited such young players as Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Arik Armstead, Eli Harold, Trent Brown, Quinton Patton, Blake Bell and punter Bradley Pinion.
“That’s another reason why you don’t keep putting veteran players over the top of the other players,” Baalke said. “You draft for a reason. Young players have to develop. That’s how you develop the next group of core players for your team.”