Many tweets will be tweeted during the NFL draft. This will not be one of them:

@TrentBaalke I'm not having fun.

Are you kidding me? The 49ers' general manager has 13 picks to play with -- although Trent Baalke does not really have a Twitter account, so don't go there for any clues.

Thirteen! Baalke must feel like a kid in a candy store inside a mall full of candy stores in a city full of candy factories in a country where candy is the official currency. Thirteen picks? That means Baalke could draft an entire offensive unit or an entire defensive unit. Plus a kicker and a punter.

But he's not going to do that.

General Manager Trent Baalke addresses the media during a 49ers press conference at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California on Friday, January 7,
General Manager Trent Baalke addresses the media during a 49ers press conference at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California on Friday, January 7, 2011. The San Francisco 49ers announced Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach. (Jim Gensheimer/Mercury News) ( Jim Gensheimer )

It also means that when the draft begins Thursday, Baalke could trade a bunch of picks and move up to take one of the top players in the first round.

But he's not going to do that, either.

It's going to be something in between those two extremes.

Baalke is the Ninja draftmaster. He has been using all his cloak-of-invisible-opinion skills in the days leading up to the draft. Like every other NFL executive this time of year, he hasn't been giving up anything. But I did manage to penetrate the fog a little. Last week at the 49ers headquarters during one of Baalke's media sessions, I pinned him down on one important element of his decision-making process.

"How many players do you personally interview before the draft?" I asked him. "Either at the combine in Indianapolis with your staff, or during one-on-one visits here at the facility, or at pro days?" Baalke did the calculations in his head.

"It's probably 120 to 150 players," he said.

So there you go. Baalke will draft one or more of those 120 to 150 players. Bank on it.

Look, you can go crazy trying to figure out what a team will do in a draft. Who knows what remark a prospect made in one of those 150 interviews that might turn Baalke's scouting switch on or off? He admits going with his gut feelings on certain players in the past whose attitude other teams had questioned -- including Dashon Goldson and Josh Morgan. Maybe that will happen again. Or not.

That said, this year is truly is an unusual situation for the 49ers. If Baalke keeps all 13 of his candy pieces -- instead of trading two or three away to move up for a higher pick -- then it will be the most number of players selected by the 49ers since 1991. That's 22 years ago. That's when the draft consisted of 12 rounds, not seven.


For clues about what sort of results the 49ers should expect from this year's draft, maybe we should look back at that draft of 22 years ago. Granted, the 13 selections were spread out over a larger pool of players. But it still might provide some guidance.

That 1991 draft was conducted in the thick of the 49ers Dynasty days, with Carmen Policy and John McVay at the wheel along with coach George Seifert. In the first round, they selected defensive tackle Ted Washington. In round two, they tabbed running back Ricky Watters. Both had long and productive NFL careers.

The other 10 players selected in 1991 were a mixed bag, with big hits (defensive back Merton Hanks in the fifth round) and big misses (linebacker Mitch Donahue in the fourth round). It wasn't the 49ers' best draft ever. Nor their worst.

And know what? That's probably what to expect this time. So those expecting fireworks to go off this week can just calm down.

Let's look at this objectively. With the 49ers' current well-stocked roster, there isn't much room for new talent. And while Baalke has shown good skill as an evaluator, no one hits 100 percent of the time.

If Baalke keeps all 13 picks -- or even if he trades a few for targeted players to end up with, say, nine eventual selections -- the odds are you'll see two or three rookies emerge from this draft class to make a real impact. There might be one or two more minor-impact players. The 49ers should be happy with that.

"It's never the number, it's the quality," Baalke said last week but added: "The more darts you have, the more balloons you can pop."

In other words, let's just relax and allow the man to do this work. Although if you see the following tweet, it might actually be authentic:

@TrentBaalke I love popping balloons.

Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.