Edit: Thanks to you guys I've added Alex Boone, Takeo Spikes, Parys Haralson, Marvel Smith, and Brandon Jones to the list.
We're in the thick of draft talk right now, which is great. I want to pause a bit from all the speculation about the future and take a look at the past and see how the team did. Basically I want to review all our personnell moves this year. I want to look at the draft, free agency, waiver pick ups, as well as cuts. I'll attempt to grade each transaction and then attempt to do an overall grade. I know that Scot McCloughan has said that his preference is to build through the draft rather than through FA. Let's look at the moves that were made and see how true that is.
Free Agent Signings
Matt Wilhelm, ILB.
Matt joined the Niners on October 19th after Jeff Ulbrich was placed on IR with a concussion. Wilhelm saw mostly backup action and was fairly solid. He started the Green Bay game and recorded 4 tackles that game (by comparison Haralson had 4 that game and Lawson 5). Over the course of the season he notched 18 tackles, no sacks, no FF, and no INTs. He did a great job in his assigned role as a backup which is why I gave him a B. I'd like to see him come back next year for some depth.
Ricky Scmitt, Kicker
This is a pretty limited sample size to go from, since Schmitt only played in one game for the Niners (though he saw pre-season action back in 2008 with the team), but he did a good job. He was 2/3 on field goal attempts (and the miss was a blocked attempt), scored on both PATs, and kicked off 5 times with an average of 65 yards. His kicks looked ugly as sin, but they were accurate which is all you can expect.
Shane Andrus, Kicker
Andrus had an even smaller sample size than Schmitt. Shane also played just one game for the Niners and was not asked to make any FG attempts. He made all 4 PATs, and averaged 66.8 yards on his 5 kick offs.
Joe Jon Finley, Tight End
Finley was an undrafted free agent who only saw action during the preseason. He caught 4 passes for 37 yards and no TDs. Not enough action to get any kind of grade.
Brit Miller, FB
Brit Miller was picked up on waivers from Carolina in the summer. He saw pre-season action and scored two TDs in the opening game of the pre-season. He also notched several tackles in special teams. He was activated during the regular season to play on special teams coverage. In five games he recorded 4 tackles on special teams. He'll likely have a chance to compete for the starting FB spot.
Diyral Briggs, LB
Brigg was an undrafted free agent pickup. He saw action in the pre-season but only notched 6 tackles with no FF, INTs, or PD. He was activated for four regular season games and didn't do much better in a back-up role, recording two tackles. It's possible that he might develop into a quality player but he's got a long way to go.
Chris Patrick, T
Patrick was a pickup from the Chief's practice squad. This move was made after Pashos was injured to provide depth on the line. He didn't see any action this year.
Brandon Jones, WR
Brandon Jones was picked up at the beginning of FA last year. He signed a 5 year contract worth $16.5 million, $5.4 million of that guaranteed. Even before he was hurt his production never justified that kind of money. His best year as a pro was in 2008 when he had 41 receptions for 449 yards. He was put in as punt return and averaged 2.9 yards for us and only caught one catch all year.
Marvel Smith, T
Smith was a FA acquisition from Pittsburgh. He had back issues in 2007 and 2008 but the FO took a chance on him anyway. He never played a snap for us, announcing his retirement August 28.
Takeo Spikes, LB
Spikes was signed to a two year contract extension through 2011. He had a solid year, and came back strong after being hurt for several games. He provides valuable leadership on the field and is an excellent resigning.
Parys Haralson, LB
Haralson signed a five year extension worth $15 million and followed that up with his best season as a pro. He still has some things to learn but could turn into a very solid linebacker for us.
Michael Crabtree, WR
Round: 1st round
Crabtree put in a very solid rookie season. Even with missing 5 games he managed 625 yards on 48 receptions (13.0 yards per catch), and two TDs. He didn't have a breakout game, but was very solid and showed flashes of brilliance. His 625 yards averages out to 56.8 yards per game. By comparison Jerry Rice averaged 57.9 yards per game his rookie season and scored 3 TDs (with a full 16 game season). I expect Crabtree to have a 1000 yard receiving year next year. Missing 5 games put him behind and he didn't have any single breakout game which is why I have him at a B.
Glen Coffee, RB
Coffee's selection in the 3rd round was a bit of a reach since most draft sites had him going in the 4th. He has been a disappointment. He had a chance to show his stuff when Gore went down early in the season and he did nothing. In Minnesota he rushed for 54 yards, against St. Louis only 74, and just 45 against Atlanta. He only gained 226 yards on 87 carries for the season which is only 2.7 yards per carry. He did slightly better receiving, with 11 receptions for 69 yards (6.9 YPC). Coffee doesn't have the strength to be a power runner in the NFL and doesn't have the speed to run away from defenders.
Scott McKillop, ILB
Even though McKillop didn't get much playing time this year he showed great promise in the time that he got. He recorded 19 tackles (15 solo) in his action as a Niner. His real value this year has been on special teams. he leads the team with 28 special teams tackles, and recovered a fumble for a TD against St. Louis in hte October game.
Nate Davis, QB
Davis' only playing time this year was in the pre-season. His first pre-season action came against the Raiders where he went 6/11 for 67 yards and 1 TD. Against Dallas he weas 10/15 for 132 yards, 0 TDs. Against San Diego he was 13/23 for 115 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. Total pre-season numbers 29/49, 314 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. Completion percentage of 59%, YPA 10.8.
Bear Pascoe, TE
Bear Pascoe didn't make it to the active roster and was released before the season started. The Giants picked him up and he played in 4 games for them recording 1 reception for 9 yards.
Curtis Taylor, S
Taylor might end up being a big steal. He was projected as a 4th round selection but fell all the way to the 7th. He didn't see any action until the Atlanta game and recorded two tackles on special teams that game. He's been a solid contributor on special teams and has seen a bit of playing time, notching 4 tackles on defense. He's a player with a great deal of upside.
Ricky Jean-Francois, DT
Jean-Francois didn't record any stats this year. He saw a bit of special teams work, and dressed for three games but didn't get any playing time.
Alex Boone, Tackle
Round: Undrafted Free Agent
Boone saw some playing time during the pre-season and did well enough to earn a spot on the practice squad. He didn't dress for any regular season games, but the team has enough confidence in him that they signed him to a future contract.
Allen Rossum, CB (Return specialist)
Rossum played 3 games with us before being cut. He then spent several weeks without a job before being picked up by Dallas and getting hurt on his first action. While with us he averaged 7.0 yards per return, only 1.5 yards better than what we managed without him. Not a bad drop in my opinion.
Kory Sheets, RB
Sheets saw no action with us before being cut. he played two games with Miami, recording 1 rush for 5 yards before being hurt and placed on IR. Good move to clear roster space.
Free Agency grade: D
We didn't upgrade any position on the team through FA this year. Even when it became glaringly obvious that we had a real weakness on PR no moves were made to fix that. Nobody was brought in to try out, nobody was promoted from the practice squad to attempt punt return duties. Everything was left as is and we were left holding our breaths each time Battle or Jones went back to catch a punt.
Draft Grade: B
I think we had a pretty good draft. Crabtree is going to be a star, McKillop has a lot of potentioal, as does Curtis Taylor. We have no idea yet what will happen with Nate Davis.