My premise for this mock offseason is that the FO will make as few roster moves as possible. Baalke wants to keep the core of the team together. So only a few cuts to the FAs on the roster. I will try to keep trades relatively low-key.
Team needs are 2 starting Safeties, a rotational DE, NT, big WR, TE/H-back, KR, swing T, backup QB, ILB.
A salary re-cap is in order, as it determines the constraints the team has to operate under. The 2013 cap is reported to be over 122 million, so assume it is $122M. The salary of the top-51 players must be kept under this cap starting March 12. With dead money from released players ($400k) the team stands at $124.8M – $2.8M over.. A few cap credits might also apply, from the penalties assessed on the Redskins and Cowboys ($1.6M), incentives for Alex Smith and Akers ($1.3M), and a carryover from last year ($1.5M) for a total of $4.4M, putting the niners $1.6M below the limit.
Signing this year’s rookies would not increase the top-51 money significantly, which includes 8 players with salaries less than $500k. Only our #1 pick would have a cap hit significantly higher than rookie minimum ($1.25M). Based on current draft picks, the increase would be in the $1.2M range, keeping the team below the cap limit, but not leaving much to spare.
So the niners don’t have to make any roster moves to keep Alex Smith past March 12 in order to trade him. However, to re-sign Goldson before March 9, players have to be cut to free up at least $7M. Otherwise the team loses leverage in trading Alex Smith, or Goldson. The most obvious candidates in my eyes are K David Akers and SS Donte Whitner (the worst starting safety in the league). These cuts would make the needed $7.1M space. I am keeping the other cut candidates. Goodwin was good C, and Looney/Kilgore might not be an improvement from him. Haralson is kept as rotational OLB.
Resigned free agents
The FAs I’d target re-signing are Goldson, McBath, RJF and Walker. Before Alex Smith is traded away, I’d resign Goldson ($28-30M for 4 years) and McBath ($2M, two years). RJF and Walker are let to try out the FA market, and will found teams willing to pay more. With Alex traded, this leaves a decent cap room for contract extensions (Iupati, A. Davis, Crabtree) or to roll over to 2014 to resign Kap and Aldon.
Alex Smith and our 5th round pick is traded to Arizona, for swapping picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, giving the Niners #37 and #69 for #61 and #93 and a 5th-rounder. Other similar trades with KC/JAX/CLE could be substituted in.
At this point two glaring needs are addressed (rotational DE, safeties). What is left is NT, WR, TE as primary needs, with backup ILB, QB, swing T, KR
Niners draft picks
Alex Smith and a 5th was traded to improve draft positions in the early rounds. Two picks were traded for a DE. This left #31, #38, #69, 4th round (comp.), 5th round, 6th round (2), 7th round (2+2comp)
Round 1, #31: NT John Jenkins, Georgia
Round 2, #38 (from Arizona): S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
Round 3, #69 (from Arizona): TE Gavin Escobar, San Diego (or Levine Toilolo, Stanford)
The first three picks address "non-premium" positions. This allows the team to get top-3 NT/S prospects. NT should not be relegated to lower priority, as the 49ers play against SEA, STL, HOU, TEN, TB, CAR and WAS this year. Baalke might follow a BPA approach, as the draft is strong at these need positions.
Round 4 (projected compensatory): OT Chris Faulk, LSU - while BPA should make sense in the first three rounds, round 4 addresses the most important backup position - swing T.
Round 5: WR Rodney Smith, Florida State - a big-body (6’5") possession receiver. And he is a Smith.
Round 6: backup ILB. The guys the team interviewed at the Shrine Game won’t be on the board at this point, so I don’t know which one to pick from those available.
Round 6: QB Collin Klein, Kansas State – a QB project (Klein or someone else) should be sitting around at this point
Round 7: CB/KR Khalid Wooten, Nevada – physical (5’11" 210lbs), fast CB who can also return punts
Round 7: K Brett Maher, Nebraska –pick the best kicker still on the board
Round 7: CB Demetrius McCray, Appalachian – a tall (6’1") corner project
I assume a 6th and a 7th-rounder was used for trading up.
QB: Kaepernick, Tolzien, Klein
FB: Miller, Dixon
RB: Gore, LMJ, Hunter, Hampton
WR: Crabtree, AJ Jenkins, K. Williams, Manningham (both behind AJJ due to injuries) R. Smith/Lockette/Hall
TE: V. Davis, Escobar, Celek
OT: Staley, A. Davis, Faulk
OG: Iupati, Boone, Looney
C: Goodwin, Kilgore
DT: J. Jenkins, Tukuafu, Ian Williams/TJE
DE: J. Smith, McDonald, Odrick, Dobbs
OLB: A. Smith, Brooks, Haralson, Johnson/ Fleming
ILB: Willis, Bowman, Moore, Wilhoite
S: Goldson, Cyprien, McBath, Spillman, Thomas/Robinson
CB: Rogers, Brown, Culliver, Cox, Wooten
KR: LMJ, KW
PR: Wooten, KW
Why I did not address "pass rush"?
I did. The DLine was improved, by a high pick NT and trading for a rotational DE. For the OLB position there is already a proven starter for rotation who can be afforded, with two picks from last year who did not have much chance to show what they can do. Dobbs can also pass rush as nickel DE. This would leave Aldon fresh to set a new sack record.
Trading Carlos Rogers to Miami for Odrick instead of draft picks. Carlos is expensive, and Miami needs two corners. To make the deal sweeter, Baalke agrees to pay some of Rogers’ $5.5M salary for 2013. 49ers draft a CB in the 3rd round (Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Connecticut or David Amerson, NC State).