This is slightly old news now, but in case you missed it, the Cincinnati Bengals elected to use their franchise tag on kicker Shayne Graham. This relates to the 49ers because it means they have not franchised T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Furthermore, since that development, Houshmandzadeh has indicated there is a less than 10% chance of him returning to the Bengals.
Naturally this gets team blogs atwitter. Houshmandzadeh has expressed specific interest in the Eagles. Adam Schefter had a blog entry speculating about possible destinations, although it seemed more of just a list of teams that need big wide receiver help: the 49ers, Seattle, Tennessee, Baltimore, Miami and Philly. One attraction for the 49ers is that Houshmandzadeh is from Victorville and went to college up in Oregon, so he'd be close to family. And of course, they've got buckets of money to spend on a receiver.
The 49ers are always pretty hush-hush on players heading into free agency and I'd imagine the Bears-Briggs debacle has only added to that. I took a look back at the time leading up to the signing of Justin Smith and Nate Clements and the speculation seemed to center around what Maiocco and Barrows were stating. So, the fact that Housh's name hasn't been associated with the 49ers beyond some blog entries is not indicative of much.
The 49ers have indicated they want to improve at wide receiver (7:50pm), but the question is whether Houshmandzadeh is the guy for the job (assuming he wants to come here). He's clearly more than a "possession receiver," even if he might get tagged with that label. At the same time, he's not quite the game-breaking speedster the 49ers might actually need. They've got guys they want to develop who could do the job of Houshmandzadeh (not equating Hill or Morgan to Housh at this point in time at all). If that's the case, maybe that money is better spent somewhere else. Given the cost of a guy like Terrell Suggs or OJ Atogwe, maybe it's not worth the cost.
Clearly Houshmandzadeh is a very talented receiver. It's good to get the best talent available, but this situation might dictate otherwise. Then there's also the fact that he's going to turn 32 early in the 2009 season. He doesn't have a ton of wear given his late development (he was a 24-year old rookie), but the age is still something to consider. The two guys the 49ers have given the biggest deals to (Smith/Clements) were both under 30 when they signed. It's something to keep in mind.
So, given the facts, should the 49ers try and bring in Houshmandzadeh? And of course, will they actually do it, given the other areas of need and free agent availability?