So did anything big happen the last few days? Well, at least that penny-pinching York reputation is a thing of the past for now. In a matter of a couple days, the 49ers boldly struck first blood in the free agent market. They added a shut-down corner, a hard hitting safety, a new nose tackle and an under-performing receiver who has a chance at redemption. In handing out over $100 million in contracts, the 49ers addressed several needs and clearly improved the team going into the 2007 campaign.
The question now, what's next? There are several options in the draft, ranging from Adam Carriker to Amobi Okoye to Alan Branch, among MANY others. However, there will be plenty of time to discuss the draft later. In the meantime, free agency is not even four days old and the 49ers still have needs to fill. John Clayton reported the team would like to get seven new starters on defense. After Clements, Franklin and Lewis, there is a rumor floating we may try and sign Donnie Spragan. Not Adalius Thomas, but certainly a decent option. Additionally, Joey Porter's apparently coming to town for a visit in the coming days. Needless to say, in spite of my misgivings over his involvement in getting shot, I'm a fan of Porter as a potential outside linebacker to compliment Manny Lawson. And as nostocksjustbonds said, he could most definitely jack up the intensity on the defensive side of the ball.
After that, I can't think of a lot of other options on the defensive side via free agency. Since the team is switching full time to the 3-4 more linebackers will definitely be needed. Tully Banta-Cain was thrown out there recently but all seems quiet. The Rams offered him a contract, but he left without a deal in place. Apparently the Giants, Jets, Steelers, Dolphins and 49ers are all interested, but nothing has happened. Additionally, I had thought about Kawika Mitchell as an option, but apparently he's against the idea of the Chiefs moving him to the outside linebacker spot . Obviously we need starting material, but we also need quality depth. While it would be nice to have a pair of great outside linebackers, it would be even better to have multiple great options BEYOND the starters. That is one of many things that win championships.
On the offensive side of the ball, the team made a minor splash in adding Ashley Lelie. There is plenty to debate just on that signing, but in the meantime let's look at what else needs to happen. The draft has some intriguing wide receiver options after you get past the freak of the group, Calvin Johnson. Free agency on the other hand, is a little more barren in the receiver department. Drew Bennett has moved into the division and gives the Rams an unbelievable receiver corps. We, on the other hand, would be rolling out Lelie, Arnaz Battle and Bryan Gilmore as our 1-2-3; although in reality, Vernon Davis is the guy we need to become the #1. Does anybody else think we need another receiver, or are you happy with Lelie and whatever we snag in the draft? San Francisco has been a rumored destination of Donte Stallworth, but I'm wondering if he's going to get a little too much money. Other than that are a lot of restricted free agents and guys like Kevin Curtis, Bobby Engram or even a bad-boy like Kelley Washington. Talk about name free agents.
Other than that, the team could use a tackle to compete with Kwame Harris and possibly a better back up running back (yes breakneck, we know, MICHAEL BUSH). Considering where this team was not so long ago, it's pretty nice to have fewer needs to fill. Don't get me wrong, we're not the perfect team yet. However, instead of having to draft the best athlete, the team can get a little more specific. Players WANT to come to San Francisco again. When we're doing battle in the playoffs next year, things will only get better as we return to the promised land. I'm not a religious person, but we've spent the proverbial 40 years in the desert and now we get to enjoy the many returns.