Fooch's Note: Over the next few days, nocal81 will be taking a look at the moves around the division thus far in free agency.
Like the San Francisco 49ers, the St. Louis Rams laid low during the start of free agency. Unlike the 49ers, the Rams have picked it up as of late. The Rams still have some holes to fill in order to be considered a favorite in the NFC West, but they are well on their way with the recent transactions.
Today, I am going to take a look at what St. Louis has done to improve their team this off-season.
Free Agent Signings
G- Harvey Dahl: 4 Year Contract, Terms Undisclosed
Analysis: Dahl is one of the most physical offensive linemen in the NFL and was arguably the Falcons best offensive linemen the last two seasons. They had to make a decision between three top tier offensive linemen and allowed Dahl to walk, which was great news for St. Louis.
He is going to add a lot of bulk to the interior of the offensive line and will help open holes for Stephen Jackson, who was been without a top tier linemen in St. Louis for the last few seasons. You can fully expect Jackson's yard per carry average to go up just with with this move alone.
What it means for San Francisco? Well to be brutally honest, it isn't good at all. San Francisco will probably lose out on retaining Aubrayo Franklin and have moved Isaac Sopoaga to the nose tackle position, which means he will be going up against Dahl. Without that physical presence up the middle, St. Louis should be extremely effective running against the 49ers.
S- Quintin Mikell: Four Year, 27 Million Dollar Contract
2010 Stats: 88 Tackles, 3 INTs, 1 Sack, 1 Forced Fumble, 3 Fumble Recoveries, 1 TD
Analysis: Is he an upgrade over O.J. Atogwe? Probably, but not much. So, this can't be considered a major upgrade at this point. However, Mikell anchored Philadelphia's secondary for the last few seasons and was elected to the Pro Bowl in 2009. He is extremely solid in the pass game and helps out a lot in rush defense.
What it means for San Francisco: Mikell is an upgrade in terms of pass defense and is extremely solid in over the top coverage. With James Laurinaitis ability to drop back into coverage and Mikell at safety the 49ers will have an incredibly hard time throwing up the middle.
WR- Mike Sims-Walker: One Year, 3.7 Million Dollar Contract
2010 Stats: 43 Receptions, 562 Yards, 7 TD
Analysis: Walker had a poor 2010 season and it cost him a big payday. He will look to improve his numbers and get a long term contract next season. That said, Walker immediately becomes the Rams #1 receiver at this point. He had a breakout 2009 season with 869 yards and 7 TDs, but couldn't duplicate those numbers last season.
In Walker you are getting a player that has averaged over 13 yards per reception and has 14 scores in the last two seasons. He can stretch the field and is a serious red zone threat.
What it means for San Francisco: Every WR is going to be scary for the 49ers if they don't immediately upgrade there cornerback position. As of right now you are looking at Shawntae Spencer and Tarell Brown as the starters. Walker is just another threat San Francisco will have to deal with twice in 2011.
DT- Justin Bannan: Three Year Contract, Terms Undisclosed
2010 Stats: 35 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Forced Fumble
Analysis: He has been a solid rotational player over the course of the last decade. Banna didn't fit well in Denver after moving on from a solid tenure with the Baltimore Ravens. Just another solid move for the Rams, who have been active in solidifying their interior play this off-season.
What it means for the 49ers: Not much, the 49ers are pretty solid at guard right now, so I doubt Bannan is going to hurt San Francisco in 2011.
CB- Al Harris: One Year Contract, Terms Undisclosed
2010 Stats: 3 Games Played, 3 Tackles
LB- Zac Diles: One Year Contract, Terms Undisclosed
2010 Stats: 15 Games Played, 82 Tackles
Re-signed: CB- Justin King
Team Cuts: OL- Jacob Bell
1st Round, 14th Pick: LB- Robert Quinn North Carolina
2nd Round, 47th Pick: TE- Lance Kendricks Wisconsin
3rd Round, 78th Pick: WR- Austin Pettis Boise State
4th Round, 112th Pick: WR- Greg Salas Hawaii
5th Round, 158th Pick: DB- Jermale Hines Ohio State
7th Round, 216th Pick: DB- Mikael Baker Baylor
7th Round, 228th Pick: LB- Jabara Williams Stephen F. Austin
7th Round, 229th Pick: DB- Jonathan Nelson Oklahoma
Notable Undrafted Free Agent Signings: QB- Taylor Potts (Texas Tech)