After listening to Trent Baalke at the NFL Combine, I suddenly got the feeling that any hopes we might have had for Mike Wallace were erroneous. I would really like Wallace to join the 49ers in 2012 because I think he fills a need, and a major one at that. As of now, I think it's safe to say that San Francisco's glaring need is at wide receiver, and most fans want an established #1 threat. I don't know if it's going to happen that way.
Baalke mentioned that the 49ers were currently working hard on retaining their own guys; and by now, we all know who those key guys are. I've heard mixed things about our salary cap space, so that factors in as well since Wallace doesn't work for peanuts. I also the 49ers are one of the teams that value draft picks more than high-priced free agents, and as it may play out, San Francisco would have to surrender their 30th overall pick plus cash up front to get him.
Already, that seems like too much.
And as much as I think Wallace would instantly fix our woes at WR, I support the front office's decisions wholeheartedly. I think at this point it would be better to start making myself love the idea of one of the 2nd-tier receivers like Pierre Garcon, Robert Meachem, Plaxico Burress, Reggie Wayne or Mario Manningham. As I'm writing this, these names don't really leap out at me. I see more #2's, a couple guys who are on the wrong side of thirty and an undersized speedster from a team I now despise. So, forgive me for not being thrilled about this potential route yet.
I think Baalke's plan ultimately lies in the draft. I think he is going to fix our problem at receiver in the draft, much like he did when we needed a pass rusher. Baalke will see things that we don't because he has intimate knowledge of the 49ers system and can diagnose who meets his specific criteria. The best we can do as outsiders is figure that he will be looking to fill the role Braylon Edwards attempted to.
I would anticipate Baalke trying to retain as much cap and draft picks for his disposal; money doesn't burn a hole in Baalke's pocket and flashy opportunities don't peak his interest. The cap money looks to be spent in house and the 49ers will likely continue to build strong through the draft.
And while San Francisco may get involved in talks with guys like Stevie Johnson or Vincent Jackson, I believe the price will be driven up where they eventually fold, much like during the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes (which worked out great). Ultimately, I'm bracing myself for the reality that we will end up with a low risk 2nd-tier pass catcher, but no matter what, I will believe the best thing has been done for the franchise going forward.
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