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49ers 2011 Free Agency Strategy: For What Are The 49ers Being Patient?

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One of the running themes in just about every thread this weekend was what reason the 49ers had to be patient. Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh have repeatedly stated the team is being patient in free agency. There has been analysis of this as it relates to their decisions regarding 49ers internal free agents, the players they may or may not be choosing to pursue, and of course the continuing discussions about whether Baalke and company lack some sort of "closing" ability.

Which brings me to Tim Kawakami's column on Sunday. I recognize that Kawakami rubs some folks (OK, a lot of folks) the wrong way with his columns and his comments on twitter. However, his Sunday column hit the nail on the head as he discussed some of the possible reasons for why the 49ers might be acting in such a deliberate and patient manner thus far in free agency.

Kawakami put together five possible reasons for the 49ers actions to date. Some of the reasons are mutually exclusive, while others could piggy-back on others. His list of reasons provides one for just about anybody out there. Well, it doesn't include one for people who think the front office is incompetent. Apologies to those folks. For now, his reasons broke down more or less as follows:

1. The team was undercoached by Mike Singletary and the addition of Harbaugh is enough to vault them into contention.
2. The coaching staff and personnel folks need time to evaluate the current roster before making investments.
3. Free agents want winners or big bucks (or both in an ideal world) and 49ers aren't either.
4. With addition of Colin Kaepernick, team is playing for 2012 so might as well hold off on free agency.
5. Cash is short as the team works to build a new stadium and they decided Jim Harbaugh was their biggest free agent.

In looking at these, I think the addition of Harbaugh could provide the necessary coaching chops to improve the team, but it remains to be seen if it's enough to vault them into playoff contention as is. I would argue that number two and number four can work well together, although the team could still think they could contend for this year. So one and two could very well work together.

Three is a reasonable option if the 49ers are telling free agents they won't give them quite what they want; thus the departures of Baas and Spikes and one of the reasons Nnamdi didn't come to San Francisco. I think that situation could fit in in any manner.

As for five? Well, it's entirely possible. Kawakami's closing line makes it seem like that's his own belief as to the reason for the conservative approach. I guess we'll know a bit more over the next two or three days.