And here's Ninjames, supporting you with offseason goodness (well considering the topicality it may not be good per se, but we'll get through this together) while there's not a whole lot of news to tide you over. A couple weeks ago Fooch posted the 49ers biggest draft disappointments and best draft choices of the decade so I'm checking in to handle the free agent articles for the decade. Check back on Thursday for my look at the best free agent signings, and I'll try hard not to play favorites.
Now, I'm sure I've likely missed a couple hilariously bad players that the 49ers picked up for a game or two in 2000 or 2001 that I couldn't find enough enough information on but I did give it as comprehensive of a list as I could. Now, the team has obviously signed a large amount of free agents and I'm sure you won't always agree with what I've put down but I think for the most part some of these are pretty obvious. I'll start off with an honorable mention.
CB Nate Clements 2007 I wasn't sure exactly where I should put Nate Clements in this piece. He obviously has not been a terrible player, he certainly is nowhere near "bust" category but has he been a disappointment? I think he could be considered as such. The team is decidedly better in some areas when he's out there but at times, they seem decidedly worse. On March 2, 2007, Clements became the highest paid defensive player in NFL history with an $80 million contract with 22 million guaranteed over eight years. He's a player who gets burned a lot in coverage and who would probably be better off playing safety. While he hasn't been "bad" he's not worth top CB money because he just.. isn't a top CB.
OT Jonas Jennings 2005 I am hesitant to place people on this list due to injury issues, but I suppose that would still make them a disappointment, wouldn't it? Jonas Jennings was brought in as a big, dominating guy that could run block as well as be serviceable in protecting rookie quarterback Alex Smith's blindside. Jennings was hurt every year he played for the 49ers--when he did play he was decent, but the injuries were just too much. In his first season he started three games before being put on IR. His second season was productive, but he missed the final three games, again on IR. His next two seasons he had other issues and again was IR'd in both seasons. When I think of him, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Continue past the jump for the worst. I'm going all-out here, no more honorable mention--I wish everyone after this jump never made the team in the first place.
I'm not going to number these as it's hard to rank. Actually, I'll number the worst, just for you guys, because I know it to be true and I know all of you will know it to be true, so lets take a look at some of these guys..
LB Tully Banta-Cain 2007 Here's a guy who maybe you didn't know much about when he came in. The point is, though, is that he came from the super bowl winning Patriots, bringing two rings and an abundance of pass-rushing skill with him. He wasn't supposed to be the "fix-all" solution but he was at least supposed to make some kind of impact. He started 10 games and recorded 41 tackles with 3.5 sacks, a decent year. The following year, he started no games and finished with half a sack before departing back to the Patriots... where he's been playing great. Yay.
WR Ashley Lelie 2007 Just defines mediocre. The guy was drafted in the first rounds and had himself a couple of pretty good seasons with the Broncos before having a down year in Atlanta. Coming into San Francisco, he was still supposed to have a lot left in the tank and could fix the 49ers woes at wide receiver. Keep in mind, the current lineup of receiving threats for the Niners is the best we've seen since Rice+Owens, and at the time Lelie was supposed to be a pretty big hope. He finished the season with 10 catches for 115 yards. Just terrible. Still, I suppose if he was good we maybe wouldn't have picked up Crabtree.. who knows?
WR Antonio Bryant 2006 What a signing. Bryant is a really good player, that's for sure, but when he came to the Niners he had a lot of extra baggage. The team desperately needed help at wide receiver, and Mike Nolan decided that the risk was worth the reward, that the other issues wouldn't hinder his ability to play... wrong. Bryant had numerous issues with coach Nolan as well as plenty of other such things. He played well when he was here, amassing over 700 yards and being a legitimate receiving threat, but he finished the '06 season on a league imposed suspension and was cut in the offseason.
S Mark Roman 2006 Is it a bit unfair of me to include Mark Roman on this list? Probably--he's been decent over the years, but I cannot tell you just how many times his coverage "skills" have cost the 49ers a game. Maybe the team shouldn't have been in a position where Mark Roman could lose the game for us but I don't care, I'll be as unreasonable as I want because of all the times I've literally sat and watched the blown coverage lose a game. Too many times at the start of the play I've said "Roman isn't going to stop this, look, I hope they don't throw right th-- GOD [site decorum] [site decorum] [site decorum] MARK ROMAN!!"
He's had his high points. He's made some plays, and he's a good veteran presence on the field, that much is to be sure. I hear the coaching staff talk about how smart he is (then why is he out of position so often?) and I understand he was good with the green dot for awhile as well as a nice veteran presence in the locker room. Still, I cannot say I've been glad that Roman has been a part of this team, as mean as that sounds. He seems like a really cool guy, from the specials on the website, I could see myself chilling with him and listening to good music (his tastes are superb) but other than that, Roman needs to be gone next season... or at least not playing at all.
NUMBER ONE J.T. O'Sullivan 2008 Now... was there any doubt in your minds? After the 49ers hired offensive coordinator Mike Martz they signed J.T. O'Sullivan to a one year deal. Martz being Martz, O'Sullivan quickly became the front runner in the quarterback "competition." The competition itself was highly publicized and many people believe it wasn't an even split. So after a long, drawn out couple of weeks Mike Nolan pretty much caved in to Martz and O'Sullivan was the starter.
What a first-half of the season that was. By the time J.T. O'Sullivan was benched by Mike Singletary (after coach Nolan was fired mid-season) he was leading the league in both interceptions thrown and fumbles. He may also have lead the league in fumbles lost, but I can't be sure. He was cocky, abrasive and terrible. He had all the making of a potentially good QB--it's one of the reasons I actually supported and defended him from the beginning. Yeah, you read that right. I thought O'Sullivan could be the answer, and almost spent a whole lot of money on a jersey. He became the face of the 49ers franchise for about oh.. nine weeks or so. What a horrible, horrible face. I've seen better faces... uh... on the Oakland Raiders, or something.
Looking back the 49ers had a slew of free agent disappointments in the years just before the turn of the last decade. 1998, 1999 and so on had some pretty big names that might drive us 49ers fans crazy. Fortunately this past decade hasn't been too rough on us, now if only we didn't have such horrible draft busts we'd be in pretty good shape. Again, I'm sure I missed some people, but ya know.