At 9:01pm pacific time tomorrow night, free agency kicks off. As we've discussed ad nauseum, the 49ers have multiple needs to fill in free agency and the draft. Maiocco has stated several times that the NFL grapevine tells him the 49ers would like to address right tackle, safety and wide receiver in free agency. Whether or not those positions are filled, I definitely think that fullback is another position that will be filled via free agency.
With all that in mind (and of course Danny's statistcal previews), we are left to wonder what exactly the 49ers are going to do. Ever since the Lance Briggs/Stoolies incident, the 49ers have played things close to the vest to avoid any tampering charges (something that clearly isn't bothering Dan Snyder). So it certainly doesn't make life easier in making free agent predictions.
One of our newest members, Dre, put together a list of free agent targets he liked and didn't like. I like that, but for the purposes of this thread, I want to just focus on who the 49ers will sign. Most predictions will include a bit of hoping, but let's see who can nail the upcoming free agent signings. Unlike prior contests, the only prize this time will be the same self-congratulatory glory you feel after winning a Super Bowl in Madden.
So who are my predictions? Well, given the predictions of more internal extensions than anything else, I thought I'd include some predictions of that since that seems like it may take up a nice chunk of cap space.
For reference on current free agents, the SBN football sites came up with a Google Spreadsheet listing all free agents by position. Here are my 49ers predictions for this free agency period:
Moran Norris, FB: With Leonard Weaver apparently not the right man for the job and Tony Richardson possibly about to resign with the J-E-T-S, I think Moran Norris is the short-term answer at fullback. It's a relatively inexpensive signing and we all know that Frank Gore is all about his former fullback. If Richardson were to hit the market I could see him still ending up in the Bay Area, but I'll stick with Moran as my prediction.
Igor Olshansky, DE: This goes more towards wishing, but I just have this feeling. I mentioned him briefly in the look back/look forward about the defensive line, he came back up in the comments of Danny's pass rush piece and Dre mentioned him as well. Olshansky's been rather inconsistent at times and supposedly the Chargers aren't likely to try and re-sign him. Ray McDonald might turn into something eventually, but Olshansky could at least give him some serious competition for the DE spot opposite Justin Smith. I think I'm going out on a limb with this one, but call it a hunch.
Parys Haralson, OLB: I think the 49ers will do what they can to lock up the young pass rusher. He was the leading sack-man without even being an every down type of guy, thanks to the big sub, among other things. I worry about throwing too much money at a guy with one truly decent season, but I also think that sometimes you have to roll the dice. Given all the cap room they've got, it makes sense to handle this now.
Takeo Spikes, ILB: Talks are apparently going in a "positive direction" with Spikes. Rotoworld stated that Spikes would likely want a 2-3 year deal in the $7-10M range. I don't even they're just making that up, but it seems pretty reasonable for a guy who is clearly still quite productive. Furthermore, a short deal like that would not be a cap crippler if the team eventually decided to cut him. I think a deal definitely gets done.
James Sanders, FS: There is probably a really good chance the Patriots go all out to re-sign this guy. Ten days ago Barrows threw out Sanders as a guy who might interest the 49ers. Sanders is a California guy (from north of Bakersfield, went to Fresno State), so maybe the lure of Cali will get him. I think the 49ers will have to overpay for this kind of young talent, and I'm predicting they will. They may end up spending more on him than any of their other free agents. Scot McCloughan said the 2009 free safety is very likely to already be on the roster. So if Goldson is the guy they really think can do the job, then Sanders is not even a guy they'll make an offer to. This is a pick that is very much hit or miss with no middle ground.
David Baas, G: I recall hearing somewhere that McCloughan (or maybe it was Nolan) didn't hav much interest in doling out big cash for guards, thus the reason Justin Smiley walked. Given the need for consistency on the offensive line (something that has reared its ugly head a lot the last two years), I really think David Baas gets a decent pay-day this offseason to prevent him from hitting the market in 2010. Given their 2009 cap space, the 49ers could really front load this kind of deal and put themselves in a solid position going forward.
So there you have it. Fooch's predictions. I'm sure I'll be wildly inaccurate, but that's life. I don't see Houshmandnzadeh or Haynesworth ending up in San Francisco. In the case of Haynesworth, with rumors of a potential $100 million deal, I REALLY don't want in on any of that.
I think the signings I've predicted would leave the 49ers in a very manageable financial situation, while filling some key holes. Now that Vernon Carey is off the market, there are not a lot of options left to fill the right tackle position. And wide receiver? Well, let's just say I'm not wowed there. Houshmandzadeh is around but I think the 49ers are more inclined to roll with the youngsters and see what they can snag in the draft. Of course, if Isaac Bruce decides he's done, I could definitely see the 49ers trying to grab a veteran somewhere along the way, just not Housh.
So, now it's your turn. I suppose you could just list one or two guys, but it'd be more fun to see folks roll out 4 or 5 guys the 49ers will sign and/or re-sign. It's a chance to get a little creative. I think Olshansky and Sanders were a little bit outside the box and aren't entirely unrealistic options. I'm sure there are other players that would fit that description. So, have at it and we'll do a comparison later in the offseason to see who does best. That person could even get a front page post to discuss their awesomeness at predicting free agent signings.