I'm working on a feature about the 49ers offseason over at SB Nation Bay Area, but in the meantime, I thought I'd get up a shorter post for discussion here. I got into it with nocal81 on Twitter the other day about the 49ers and Raiders offseason. He ranked the Raiders at the bottom of the barrel, and the 49ers right near the top of said barrel. To me, that was crazy talk, and blatant homerism. After talking a little, I saw his point of view, but I still didn't agree.
Eventually, I came to my own conclusion about the 49ers offseason:
The crux of the "49ers have good offseason" argument lies in two things: the thought of these players just needing new scenery, and Harbaugh
Regarding the end, it's obviously the biggest factor. Jed York and Trent Baalke have referred to Jim Harbaugh as the team's big free-agent signing, and it's an apt description. It's not just execu-speak for "we don't want to sign free agents," it's "we're putting our eggs in this basket and you need to recognize that." The difference between this basket and Mike Singletary's basket is that Harbaugh's is much more structurally sound. It's built to last. It wasn't thrown together for the tourist trade, it was made to be used.
Harbaugh will be the biggest deciding factor when it comes to how good or bad the 49ers perform in 2011 and the foreseeable future. But that's just the coaching. After a short bit of panic in which we feared the 49ers were about to have one of the worst free agent periods in the league, they made a couple signings that could really pan out. The team brought in Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner, Braylon Edwards, Jonathan Goodwin, David Akers and Madieu Williams. That's a pretty good haul, alongside bringing back Ray McDonald.
A couple of those players are somewhat maligned and don't inspire a whole mess of confidence like we'd prefer. That's Whitner, Rogers and Edwards, in particular. All three have had their issues, be it Edwards' off-the-field problems, Whitner's attitude or Rogers' confidence, they all have their issues and one other thing in common: many have said they need a change of scenery.
Sometimes, a change of scenery could be one of the best things in life. It's the same way in football, players can struggle in one place, and light it up in the next, or vice versa. Rogers will come to San Francisco and be the 49ers number-one corner, and he'll get every opportunity to be embraced by a fanbase that really, really needs a corner to love. Maybe that's what he needs for his confidence.
Maybe Braylon needed to get away from ... that entire half of the country, who knows? He's got some confidence and mental issues of his own, but he has the ability to be a number one receiver, and that's what he'll be in San Francisco. Whitner will come here and immediately be a leader on defense and have a chance at a new locker room with new faces that he hopefully won't alienate.
These guys are all starters, but they could be great. That's how I'm seeing this offseason and these free agent acquisitions. Thoughts?