While there were not as many high dollar/high profile signings by the 49ers, the team certainly established itself on the market. I thought I'd throw out NN posts for those who weren't around this weekend, and then throw out what some of the so-called learned media had to say about the 49ers signings. Some of our old favorites (I'm talking to you Don Banks) had less than favorable things to say...some of which were downright wrong in my opinion.
Justin Smith - I can certainly understand why some people think he got lucky in terms of when he hit the market and the money he got, but I still think he's a hell of a ball player that will make an immediate impact. The dollar figures for high end players is always going to be insane so you have to take it with a grain of salt. Justin Smith will bring a talented veteran presence to the defensive line and should be a great mentor for Ray McDonald, Joe Cohen and others.
Isaac Bruce - I haven't put together my thoughts on the Bruce signing yet, but for now I really like this as a short-term move. For those who hadn't noticed, Isaac Bruce is #3 all time in receiving yards, #6 in receptions and #13 for receiving touchdowns. And I don't think we're getting him in the "Jerry Rice as a Seahawk" phase of his career. I believe Isaac Bruce will be a quality receiving threat in 2008 for the 49ers. More importantly, he brings the veteran knowledge that will be important in the development of guys like Jason Hill and Vernon Davis. Consider him a more accomplished, more athletic and more useful Trent Dilfer!
Dontarrious Thomas - This may seem like an odd analogy, but Thomas seems like a less talented version of Lavar Arrington. The reason I say this is because Arrington had all the talent in the world but he could never completely harness it to become a true linebacking force. Sure he was a beast who could tear a guy's head off on a tackle but he was more like a runaway train that couldn't do the little things that make other players so great. Dontarrious Thomas sounds like a great athlete who can make plays but has to learn the nuances of the game before he can step up to the next level. Of course, this makes me THAT MUCH MORE EXCITED to see him getting coached by Mike Singletary and playing with Patrick Willis. I expect good things from Thomas.
J.T. O'Sullivan - When I was first writing about O'Sullivan I didn't think much of him considering he's been a career backup. And then, as mentioned in the post, I caught Matt Barrows' thoughts on him in his Sac Bee blog. Needless to say, I'm intrigued about having a third string guy competing with Shaun Hill and Alex Smith after already knowing the Mike Martz offense. I don't expect J.T. O'Sullivan to take over the starting job, but I do think he'll push Smith and Hill and will help them get a better understanding of the offense. It's a subtle signing, but a good one.
DeShaun Foster - Considering the situation Foster is arriving into, I think this is a fantastic signing. While I'm disappointed Thomas Clayton won't get more of a shot at real playing time (I think), this solidifies the running game for the next couple of seasons. Michael Robinson is the long term answer backing up Frank Gore, but DeShaun Foster will be a nice option when Gore needs a breather. In the past, defenses were probably a little bit happier to see Maurice Hicks or Michael Robinson on the field. Now they'll see a guy with a ton of talent and something to prove.
Allen Rossum - This falls into the "Whatever" category of signings. Hopefully he can make a nice little impact in the return game. While I understand letting Hicks go, I definitely will miss some of his big special teams plays. He made important stops and could set the 49ers up with solid field position on occasion when returning.
Time for my soap box moment. I know most of us have made our opinion known about Don Banks when he decides to discuss the 49ers. Well, the Don is at it again, targeting the 49ers signing of Justin Smith. There have been plenty of articles already discussing this signing but I thought I'd go with Banks' view.
Banks acknowledges Smith is a good player, but feels he is a right time, right place type of free agent, with which some of you agree. I won't fight that he definitely was in a market where his price tag was probably inflated a little bit. However, I don't think he's done his due diligence in assessing Smith's past with the history and what he brings to the table. Primarily, Banks goes back to the well repeatedly discussing how Smith does not get sacks like some of the sack artists around the league. Unfortunately, he chooses not to look at the little things Smith can do and will do going forward. Maybe he won't collect 14 or 15 sacks, but I think he and Manny Lawson will bring some serious thunder on that right side of the defensive line.
As far as the FanHouse article mentioned in the diaries? Well I find it ridiculous and a waste of time. This whole Lance Briggs tampering thing is ridiculous primarily because it consists of the Bears crying to the league about a nonexistent issue. One reason I'm even further down on the whole issue? Drew Rosenhaus represents Lance Briggs and even though most people have a certain level of disdain for Rosenhaus, the 49ers have not had many problems with him. They worked together to come up with a very nice long term deal for Frank Gore and TO didn't sign with Rosenhaus until after his relationship with the 49ers had gone to hell. So I suppose you can take that for what it's worth.