A few days ago, Matt Maiocco put together a rundown of the 49ers impending free agents once the labor dispute gets settled. There are plenty of notable names, but Aubrayo Franklin's status raised my eyebrows at least a little bit. MM had this to say about Franklin:
The high cost of the franchise tag prevented the 49ers from locking him up early. The 49ers will make an attempt to sign him to a long-term deal, but they've already kicked around the idea of moving left defensive end Isaac Sopoaga to nose tackle to compensate for the possible loss of Franklin in free agency.
I've heard Sopoaga's name kicked around here and there in NN comments when it comes to the nose tackle position, but I don't recall seeing anything this specific from one of the team's beat writers. That's not to say that what they say is the official gospel (you can get that here!), but it's intriguing that this kind of change could happen.
Sopoaga would seem to have the size to fill in at the nose tackle role as he seems to be up close to 330 pounds if you believe ESPN.com and 49ers.com. Of course, he also gets seriously mixed reviews from everybody here so I'm not sure how many people would be down for this. Ricky Jean-Francois is the other primary option if Franklin walks. RJF looked really solid last preseason in place of Franklin, but one has to wonder if he has the size to last as the primary man in the middle. Or could the team work in alternating RJF and Sopoaga? Of course that also would depend on how they fill in the defensive end role opposite Justin Smith.
How does this position play out? Or are people still optimistic Aubrayo Franklin will be back in 2011?