49ers free agents and playing time

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

We discuss how the 49ers have made a habit out of signing well-known free agents only to have them "ride the pine".

The 49ers have a lot of talent on the team, and they're winning. These are two big reasons why certain players are not needed on game-day. With the rookies, they're young and new to the NFL, so it makes some sense to deactivate them in the short-term. But what about free agent signings, well-known guys like Braylon Edwards (2011) and Brandon Jacobs?

Edwards was actually starting some games early-on with Michael Crabtree out a few weeks with his foot injury in 2011, but then he got injured himself (a knee and then supposedly a shoulder) and never saw the field again. He made comments that seemed to indicate he was healthy enough to play, even if the injuries were still somewhat present. The 49ers ended up releasing him in the second half of the season.

This year's version of Edwards may be Brandon Jacobs. Another well-known FA that wasn't retained by his previous team, snapped-up by the 49ers on a low-risk contract. I would guess that Jacobs signed with the idea that he would be a part of the 49ers offense this season, something that hasn't come to fruition yet.

It's hard to tell from Jacobs' tweets and comments to the media whether or not he's frustrated with Jim Harbaugh over the lack of games in which he's been active, but I think it's fair to say he is. The bigger question to me is how did the conversation go before Jacobs inked the deal?

Did he simply assume that he would beat-out guys like Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter? Was there any indication given to him that he was assured a spot on the 46-man roster?

He obviously doesn't play special teams, so he had to know that with Rock Cartwright and Anthony Dixon, both guys known for playing pretty well on ST's, that his challenge would be tough. Knowing that, he either signed because he didn't mind not getting involved many games, or he thought he could beat out second-year RB Kendall Hunter. If it was the latter, then he only has himself with which to be upset.

Or is it that Jacobs simply feels that "he's Brandon Jacobs, two-time NFL Champion" and that he deserves to be playing, that he's better than Hunter even if the coaches disagree? I'm not saying any of these things are the case, just pondering if they could be.

The larger question out of this sort of thing is: Does this affect the 49ers chances to sign decent FA's in the future, with them knowing there's a good chance they won't suit-up for games and/or get as much playing time as they might want?

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