The first part of this post is about the Niner free agents. In specific, it is about their current status and what I think the Niners should do regarding them moving forward.
The second part of this post is my idea for the guys the Niners should go after in the NFL Draft. The first section of this part is the list of 17 players (in order) whom I believe the Niners should take if they are available (sadly, they lost the coin toss with Tennessee to make this a 17 man list rather than a 16 man list). Barring any trades, the Niners should leave the draft with at least two of those 17 players. The second section is a group of players (not in order) that I would like to see the Niners take in the second round if still available (I tried to make the list large enough to almost guarantee that one of them would be available in the second round). I would also be overjoyed if the Niners could pull of their 2nd and 4th in exchange for a future 1st. Are the Panthers still in the market for that?
Franchise Player - DT Aubrayo Franklin (non-exclusive): I believe that slapping the non-exclusive franchise tag on Franklin was the perfect move for the Niners. Last season, Franklin was a key member of our defense and a one year deal at 7.003 million dollars seems pretty reasonable. At 30 years old on opening day though, I deem Franklin too old to give a long term contract, and there are many top notch players at his position in this years draft (see below). In the very slight chance that another team offers Franklin at least 7.003 million dollars, I would let him go and take the two first round compensation picks instead.
Transition Player - none
Restricted Free Agents - DE/OLB Ahmad Brooks (2nd round tender), OG David Baas (2nd round tender): Ahmad Brooks supplied the Niners with a good 3rd down pass rusher at the end of last season, and at 1.809 million dollars, comes at a pretty cheap price as well. David Baas is tendered at 1.226 million dollars, which also seems like the right price for a middle of the pack linemen. With Baas, I would likely not match another team's offer if one is made (and take the second round compensation), while I probably would match an offer given to Brooks.
Unrestricted Free Agents - CB Dre' Bly, CB Walt Harris, S Mark Roman, OT Barry Sims: I don't believe that the Niners need to bring any of these players back, as all of them could be replaced by better and/or younger players that are already on our roster.
Free Agent Additions - QB David Carr: He joins fellow QB Alex Smith as the second #1 overall pick on our squad. It is likely that he will begin the season as Smith's primary back-up. This signing probably means that the Niners will release either Shaun Hill or Nate Davis. I would release Hill because Davis has more upside.
My Big Board for the 49ers' 2010 draft:
- Ndamukong Suh - DT (Nebraska): If a defensive player was a Heisman Finalist, that almost guarantees that he should be taken over all others.
- Eric Berry - S (Tennessee): He has drawn comparisons to Ed Reed coming out of college and safety is one of the Niner's needs.
- Gerald McCoy - DT (Oklahoma): In many years, he would be by far the best DT.
- Sam Bradford - QB (Oklahoma): A year ago would have gone #1 if he had come out, and while the injuries are worrisome, his added pounds are very encouraging.
- Russel Okung - OT (Oklahoma State): He would solve many of the O-Line problems immediately.
- Bryan Bulaga - OT (Iowa): He can get down field in a hurry, and OT is a major need for the Niners.
- Joe Haden - CB (Florida): Has the potential to be a shutdown corner, which is evident by the fact that he was the first true freshman to start in Florida history.
- Trent Williams - OT (Oklahoma): Can play both OT positions and OG, would be versatile enough to help the Niners at any of those O-line spots.
- Taylor Mays - S (USC): Hits extremely hard, has good speed [regardless of correct 40-time] and is very coachable, which definitely sounds like a player that the Niners could use in their secondary.
- Dan Williams - DT (Tennessee): This guy is not as well known as other top guys at his position such as Suh, McCoy or even Cody, but he would fit in very well to the Niner's 3-4 scheme with his excellent speed for someone his size.
- C.J. Spiller - HB/KR (Clemson): Not only would he be a good change of pace back-up to Gore, but he would also greatly improve our wretched return game.
- Dez Bryant - WR (Oklahoma State): Has serious attitude issues that may drop him to second round which Singletary could hopefully shore up, but a WR tandem of Crabtree and Bryant would be our best since Rice and Owens.
- Jason Pierre-Paul - DE/OLB (South Florida): Not much football experience, but has too much raw talent and athleticism [23 consecutive backward flips] to ignore.
- Rolando McClain - MLB (Alabama): Has drawn comparisons to our very own P-Willis, which is enough to kick Takeo Spikes out of a starting job in the near future.
- Earl Thomas - S (Texas): He would really help the Niner secondary with his excellent coverage skills.
- Brandon Graham - DE (Michigan): 28 sacks over three seasons and Senior Bowl MVP is hard to ignore.
- Sean Weatherspoon - MLB/OLB (Missouri): He can play all linebacker positions and has very few flaws in his game, which is evident by his high sack and tackle totals.
Guys I'd like to see them take in the second round (not in this order necessarily) if they are still available (pending positions taken in first round):
- Jimmy Clausen - QB (Notre Dame): QB is not one of the Niner's biggest needs, but if a player of this caliber fell into their lap, why not take him.
- Terrence Cody - DT (Alabama): While keeping his weight down will be a serious issue, the guy has the potential to be a beast up the middle.
- Anthony Davis - OT (Rutgers): Has both weight and technique issues, but possesses loads of power.
- Maurkice Pouncey - C (Florida): Has a good work ethic and is probably the best center in the draft, he would likely start at OG for Niners as a rookie and eventually become the center of the future.
- Patrick Robinson - CB (Florida State): A solid defensive back that would also address a need for the Niners.
- Carlos Dunlap - DE/OLB (Florida): Off the field issues might drop him to the second round, but he has first round talent and Singletary could hopefully keep his problems in check.
- Mike Iupati - OG (Idaho): Possibly the best OG in the draft and would go a long way towards solidifying the Niner's O-line.
- Damian Williams - WR/PR (USC): Would compete with Morgan for #2 receiver spot and could greatly improve the Niner's punt return game.
- Bruce Campbell - OT (Maryland): Possibly the most athletic OT in the draft.
- Devin McCourty - CB/KR (Rutgers): Addresses two needs at once for the Niners, a returner and a defensive back.
- Sergio Kindle - DE/OLB (Texas): Accumulated 6 sacks in his senior season despite seeing many double teams.
- Kyle Wilson - CB/PR (Boise State): He can do many things well on the defensive side of the ball, and can return punts as an added bonus.
- Jerry Hughes - OLB (TCU): 26 sacks in his last two seasons is pretty impressive.
Other guys of interest beyond the second round:
- Tim Tebow - QB (Florida): The critics rip his game and he is coming from the exact same system as Alex Smith, yet his desire to win and become better might be larger than any other player in the draft, which is evident by his attempts to improve his throwing motion.
- Toby Gerhart- RB (Stanford): The critics also rip his game, saying that he is too slow, but the fact of the matter is he still led the nation in rushing with 1,871 yards and finished second in Heisman voting.
- Reshad Jones - SS (Georgia): He has been plagued by inconsistency at times, but his ceiling is incredibly high and he was top performer in the vertical jump and bench press at the combine.
- Jacoby Ford - WR/KR (Clemson): He has lightning quick speed which was evident by his posting of the fastest 40-time at the combine, and he would help the Niners on special teams.
I think that a good draft by the Niners paired with the Cardinal's losses of Warner, Boldin, Dansby and Rolle means that the division is ours to lose. And last but not least, just in case you were wondering what my 2009 first round Big Board for the Niners was:
- Michael Crabtree - WR (Texas Tech)
- Aaron Curry - OLB (Wake Forest)
- Matt Stafford - QB (Georgia)
- Mark Sanchez - QB (USC)
- Jason Smith - OT (Baylor)
- Eugene Monroe - OT (Virginia)
- Andre Smith - OT (Aabama)
- Brian Orakpo - DE (Texas)
- B.J. Raji - DT (Boston College)
- Aaron Maybin - DE (Penn State)
This year, it will take more than the Raider's stupidity and minor injury to Suh to give us the top player on my board, but you know what...anything is possible.