As rumors around the web continue to link players like Darren Sproles, Julius Peppers, Joey Porter and Antonio Cromartie, i have decided to take a more realistic look at the 49ers off-season needs, the approach i believe we should take and what the 49ers need, not only to contend for a playoff sport, which is a near certainty, but to become on of the conferences elite teams.
What We Have: On offense there are only seven spots set in stone of the starting eleven. Those players are Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Joe Staley, Eric Heitman and Chilo Rachal. That doesn't say too much for an offense that continued to improve a great deal as the season went on last year. Yet the 49ers do have many legitimate younger players and proven veterans that either could step up or already did so in 2009. Glen Coffee was the talk of the NFL pre-season, but faltered in a big way when given the chance in the regular season. I am not sure if you can chalk that up to nerves and inexperience or just that he isn't going to be that good of a pro. I believe the jury is still out on that, i am not ready to give up on him. Josh Morgan had his spots in 2009, and played much better as the season went on, he did have 28 receptions over the final 6 games. Yet i don't believe he is consistent enough just yet to be the #2 WR on a playoff caliber team. Jason Hill had his shining moment(s) in just one game, that in garbage time against the Titans, i don't see him as anything more than a #3 or #4 WR in the NFL. Now this is where it gets interesting. Adam Snyder was an utter failure in 2009, and i just want him off the roster as soon as possible, trade him for a low round pick and be done with that experiment. To the amazement of me and many others on NN Barry Sims played great in replacing Joe Staley and must be considered a top notch back up for us in 2010, if we can re-sign him. That said i do not want him anywhere near the starting lineup on a regular basis. Tony Pashos was a real good later pick up, yet his injury left a lot of us wondering about him. As an outsider to the Ravens and Jaguars when he played for them, i saw a lot of talent from Pashos, i wouldn't have much of an issue with him opening up 2010 as a starter at tackle.
The defense is another story, it was one of the best in 2009, i don't care what stats etc. say. They were given a loose leaf to play with early on as our offense stunk it up. Overall i believe that Justin Smith, Aubrayo Franklin, Patrick Willis and Dashon Goldson had all-pro season, yet only two of them were named to the pro bowl. With Spencer, Brown, Goldson, Smith and Taylor the 49ers have a real good young core in the secondary, but we will need a playmaker, i will address that later. One of the best LB corps in the NFL, the 49ers could still upgrade at the OLB position opposite the emerging talent that is Ahmad Brooks. Inside they are set for 2010 with Willis (in my opinion the best LB in football) and Takeo Spikes. Scott Mckillop was a great surprise, especially on special teams.
Taking a Look At The Trade Block: I will only look at the players the 49ers "could" have an interest in
WR- Brandon Marshall: he is an interesting dude to say the least, and minus all the off the field BS, is one of the elite receivers in the league. I am more worried about what it would cost to acquire him, than i am worried about the off the field issues. If we can get him for a 2nd round pick and conditional pick in 2011, i do it. But the Broncos will be asking for more
CB- Nnamdi Ashomugha: This is an interesting name on the block, he is the best all around corner in the NFL, and is being wasted on the Oakland Raiders. They apparently have everyone on the trade block, which means that the amount they receive in return may actually be a lot less than we perceive right now. Avoid giving up a 1st and this should be our #1 target. Nate Clements, a 3rd in 2010 and middle round pick in 2011 should get it done.
S- Reggie Nelson: I think that it is crazy that Nelson is available, i just am not sure why, or what he may demand in return.
CB- Antonio Cromartie: A lot has been said about his off the field issues (something like 6 children in 5 states). But i do think he is worth some risk.
Overall i would avoid the trade market like the black plague; the 49ers are in the mode to add to an increasingly talented roster, and giving up substantial draft picks for players who are on the block for a reason really doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Oakland's corner aside i really don't see anything worth much in terms of a top tier pick.
Free Agent Market: With the lack of a CBA the options here are extremely limited, and i doubt the 49ers will be willing to sign a player with a 1st and 3rd tender, or even a #2 tender. For the purposes of this thread i will only include players the 49ers "could be interested in and are either unrestricted free agents, or have not been tendered by their current team, or have been tendered already.
RB- Darren Sproles: These rumors are running faster than a chicken from a Kenyan. I do see why the 49ers would be interested in Sproles, and i believe that this is one free agent deal the 49ers should really look into. By signing him to something like a 3Y-12MD deal the 49ers avoid having to draft CJ Spiller (who i really do like), gives the 49ers a legit return man, a change of speed back and a really good 3rd down receiver as well. I think and believe the 49ers will make a run at him.
RB- Leon Washington: the Jets gave Washington a 2nd round tender, so the question remains. Is he worth that pick? it all depends on where you expect the 49ers to go in the 1st round and if Washington is better than whoever we may be able to get in the 2nd round (Best/Mccluster). I think we should avoid any conversation regarding Washington
RB's- Willie Parker and Kevin Faulk: These could be intriguing options as the 3rd down backs, but the question that begs to be asked is. Do the 49ers want to gave after veteran backs past their prime?
WR- Terrell Owens: Okay yes he did leave the 49ers on notoriosuly bad terms, all we have to say is Brandon Whiting and you will know what i am talking about. That said he has matured over the last couple seasons, won't cost much more than 5 million per and could be a great option opposite Michael Crabtree. This without costing a draft pick, and allowing us the ability to let Morgan and Hill grow as players. Believe it or not i am 100 percent in favor of acquiring Owens.
WR- Antonio Bryant: Another player that left the 49ers on bad terms, but this one i say stay away from. He had a breakout season in 2008 to earn that franchise tag, and then flopped on his face in 2009. Way too inconsistent.
G's- Bobbie Williams and Stephan Neal: I personally believe the 49ers must and will go after one of these veteran guards, both have proven to be really solid players in the NFL and could hold down the fort until a young player emerges. Ask yourself this. Is either option better than David Baas or Adam Snyder? My answer Hells yeah!!!
CB- Dunta Robinson: Scotty M has said that the 49ers would be interested in a player of his caliber, but added "it is something that we MAY look into" didn't sound to confident in going after him. I wouldn't anyway, Robinson had a horrible 2009 season and just isn't worth the cash he will get.
CB- Leigh Bodden: Just forget about him, we have 3 CB's that are better than Bodden, it is just that simple
S- Sean Jones, Darren Sharper: It all depends where we go in the draft and if we decide to keep Michael Lewis, i wouldn't mind signing a Sean Jones short term to fill in for a player like Nate Allen or Myron Rolle until they are ready. Darren Sharper? NOPE!!!
The Much Talked About Draft: This is the deepest draft i have seen in years, in my opinion the drop off from 13/17 to the 50's isn't that great, especially in the positions i believe the 49ers have the largest needs. The only tackle beside Okung that i am enamored with is Bruce Campbell, and even that comes at a "bust" risk as do most tackles in the 1st round of any draft. I believe we should avoid Trent Williams like the Taliban in NYC, he got burnt on multiple occasions, and that wasn't even the NFL. Taylor Mays and Earl Thomas, are not much better than the 2nd round options at those positions. In fact, i believe Nate Allen is better than both players. In short this is what i would do. I do understand that there are mock draft threads on NN, but i cannot seriously continue this post without adding another one of my own. First off i would trade the 13th pick to the Packers for the 23rd pick and 2nd round pick, this works on the trade value chart.
1. DE- Everson Griffin, USC has a chance to be an elite DE and at 282 LB is perfect for the 3-4
1. OT- Bruce Campbell, Maryland will sit behind and learn from Pashos. Major upside!!!
2. LB- Brandon Spikes, Florida In need of an eventual replacement for Takeo, Brandon is a stud
2. FS- Nate Allen, South Florida As i said he is the 2nd best safety in the draft, a steal in the 2nd
3. WR- Damaryious Thomas, G.Tech Will fall due to injury, would have been a top 10 pick in 2011
4. CB- Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State I don't see him falling to the 4th, but a lot of boards have him here.
5. G/C- Eric Olsen, Notre Dame Could fill two spots, backup guard and center. Goodbye Wallace?
6. LB- Dakoda Watson, Florida St. Project OLB, but in the 6th i like his upside
6. WR- Freddie Barnes, B. Green Why not another WR? led NCAA in receiving in 2009.
7. DT- Jeff Owens, Georgia We have Franklin, Soap and Francois. But could use some depth
In terms of free agency/trade
Trade conditional pick in 2011 and OL- Adam Snyder to the Chargers for Antonio Cromartie. San Diego will not get what they think they will for Cromartie; and this gives them a chance to acquire a 2nd or 3rd round pick if Cromartie excels with the 49ers in 2010. Much more than they would get for him right now.
Sign WR- Terrell Owens to a 1Y Contract. and sign LB- Joey Porter to a 2Y Contract once he is eventually released (which will happen)
Sign G- Bobbie Williams to a 4Y Contract worth about 15 million
Sign RB/WR- Darren Sproles to a 3Y-11MD Contract
I know this was an incredible long spread with a lot of information, but i find it imperative that i throw this out there before the start of free agency in about 5 days.
Smith Gore Davis Crabtree Staley Heitman Rachal