NEW ORLEANS -- Trent Baalke, the 49ers undercover general manager, has -- no surprise -- turned down all interview requests this week and dropped totally off the radar.
He's around, I've been told. He's studying tape, attending the 49ers' Super Bowl practices, bantering with players and probably coming up with some hearty athletic competition vs. Jim Harbaugh.
But it's all far from the media's view, and it's classic Baalke: He's defined by the talent he has added to the 49ers roster and by the lengths he'll go to avoid talking about how he's doing it.
"He is in the get-the-job-done category, not the take-credit-for-getting-the-job-done category," Harbaugh said approvingly of Baalke this week.
Basically, the Baalke shorthand is that he's a 100 percent scout, absorbed in the details of grinding through tape and research, and not at all in any of the public conversation.
Nobody outside of Baalke's inner circle (including Harbaugh) knew much about Baalke when the 49ers made him GM a few years ago, and now that the 49ers have made it to the Super Bowl, we still know almost nothing.
"Has he ever talked?" CEO Jed York said with a laugh Thursday when I brought up Baalke's media silence this week.
Some of the rare bits of knowledge: Baalke loves the Sharks and is close friends with Sharks GM Doug Wilson, and he's a fitness freak who, left tackle Joe Staley says, is a bit of a "trash-talker" with the players on physical prowess.
And even Harbaugh -- no competitive shrinking violet -- laughs at Baalke's competitive nature.
"He's a maniac," Harbaugh said of their occasional mano-a-mano contests. "It's interesting -- he'll win at stuff and then we won't talk for three days. I'll win at something, and we won't talk for three days.
"Somebody's very happy and somebody's very pissed."
But again, the best way to define Baalke, and the way he probably likes to be defined, is by the 49ers' spot in the Super Bowl and the array of talent across the 49ers' roster.
When I asked York about Baalke's methods alongside Harbaugh, York mentioned the pair's pre-draft analysis of Colin Kaepernick in 2011 -- and it was as clear a look at that dynamic as I've ever heard.
"They collectively came to the decision that Colin was the right guy for us -- and they liked him for different reasons," York said.
"Jim is a gut-feeling kind of guy. Trent is analytical, like everything sort of needs to fit and I'm going to make sure that everything is perfect and I'm going to go through all the analysis and process.
"And they both get to the same place I'd say 95 percent of the time, but they take different paths to get there. And the five percent that they don't, that's always very entertaining to see those conversations.
"But they fight with each other and push each other because they both want to win."
There's no way to avoid some tension and clashes with a personality as strong as Harbaugh's -- and I don't think Harbaugh would respect an executive who tried to avoid any of that.
Baalke doesn't get in Harbaugh's way publicly, Harbaugh respects the players Baalke gives him, and both men respect the other's manic work ethic.
One of the key reasons Harbaugh signed on with the 49ers is that he felt he could work with Baalke -- and yet Harbaugh admits he barely knew Baalke at the time.
So, how did he conclude that Baalke was the right GM for him?
"Gut," Harbaugh said. "Had a hunch ... Just a hunch that he was good, knew what he was doing and that we'd worked good together."
The way York describes it, the Harbaugh-Baalke partnership was cemented (in his mind) the first time the three men were in a room together -- for the 49ers' official interview of Harbaugh in January 2011.
"I watched those two talk football and they just clicked," York said. "It was just so fun for me to watch ...
"When we sat down and finally interviewed Jim, he was in a suit and tie, which, obviously is not very comfortable for Jim to be in.
"We're all suited up and we're at a friend of mine's house, it's very quiet and secluded. And, about 10 minutes into it, Jim kind of unloosens his tie and he's, 'Do you mind if I put in a dip (of tobacco)?' He throws one in, Trent throws one in, and I'm like, 'This (search) is over' ...
"I mean, you could see that there was a mutual respect for each other and that they can do very different things, but combined they can put together a special product. I think the results on the field the last two years have been evidence of that."
Just sort through Baalke's highest-level acquisitions and you can see there's definitely a Baalke-type: Big, tough-minded players such as NaVorro Bowman, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Bruce Miller, and, of course, that Kaepernick fellow.
"I think he likes aggressive players," Staley said. "Kap's aggressive. He's got a heckuva competitive streak. You look at the guys he's brought in, they're fiery, passionate, competitive players."
Which is not a coincidence, because the GM is fiery and competitive, too. Or so we hear. That's the rumor. We can't confirm that with Baalke because, right now, Baalke is invisible, silent and grinding out Super Bowl week.