Welcome back Niners Nation. My way of getting over the NFC Championship game is to begin my rigorous study of the offseason opportunities the 49ers have in front of them. Obviously, my favorite part and most everyone's are the personnel decisions. And that means, it's time for Trent Baalke to do what he apparently does best: find draft studs and create a high level of competition at every position. Everything here on this page is simply ideas to kick around and things that have been floating around the league.
The 49ers needs could be boiled down to a few key positions; wide receiver and cornerback being the most pressing needs. Some certain free agency losses may also change the landscape of what positions need to be addressed - two that come to mind are Ahmad Brooks and Dashon Goldson which would call for an immediate need at either FS or OLB. I believe Carlos Rogers will be retained, as he's already gone public with his desire to remain a Niner; either Goldson or Brooks will get the franchise tag.
49ers Notable Free Agents
Alex Smith - (Re-sign)
Moran Norris - (Release)
Ted Ginn Jr. - (R-sign: kick return specialist contract; incentives)
Joshua Morgan - (R-sign: #3 WR)
Ahmad Brooks - (Re-sign: discount or release)
Carlos Rogers - (Re-sign: 3-4 year contract)
Dashon Goldson - (Franchise Tag)
Chilo Rachal - (Release)
Larry Grant - (Re-sign: discount or release)
The information to the right of the player is simply a logical and likely organizational move. By no means is anything written in stone yet.
49er-Need-Related NFL Free Agents
Vincent Jackson, WR, SD
Peyton Hillis, RB, CLE
Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC
Ben Grubbs, G, BAL
DeSean Jackson, WR, PHI
Steve Johnson, WR, BUF
Mike Tolbert, RB, SD
Jackson, Bowe, Jackson and Johnson: The NFC Championship was the exclamation point to the 49ers front office that they are in dire need of a dynamic threat at the wide receiver position. These four guys are big-play receivers in their 20's looking for a home. Alex Smith has a home, but no receiver - there is a match to be made here, but careful thought must be put into this decision. That is even if the 49ers wish to pursue their wide receiver in the free agent market.
Hillis and Tolbert: I know. Most of us are under the impression that the ground game is set with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon but I'd like to introduce another line of thought. This is my Moneyball line of reasoning, and that is that the 49ers need to buy red zone scores. The red zone offense was a mess for most of the season, and third down was no treat either. Hillis or Tolbert would bring in some horsepower at the runningback position. Once either of these two gets a head of steam going, they're awfully hard to take down. Not to mention, the physicality that they model their game after fits the 49er mold. And Hillis could be a free-agent steal because of his disastrous, story-filled 2nd year in Cleveland. Of course, for one of these guys to come in, Hunter would have to take a backseat and Dixon would likely be released.
Possible Late First Round Gems
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina (6'4, 229) 4.56
Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers (6'2, 215) 4.57
Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (6'3, 224) 4.54
The three guys listed above are about all I want from the late first round. You'll notice all of these receivers are 6'2+ downfield threats that despite being game-planned against, put up monster numbers for their respective programs. It's no mystery that Jefferey's speed has been challenged and his draft stock could fall; more talented players have fallen for stranger reasons. If Jefferey is available then, expect San Francisco to take him with time left on their draft clock. Sanu and Floyd could also go in the teens of the first round, but might fall due to team needs. Either Sanu or Floyd would be a great upgrade for the Niners future at the wide receiver position.
High Risk-High Reward Acquisitions
DeSean Jackson: This could be an interesting move by the 49ers, who appear to have the coaching staff in place to get the most out of the rebel wide out. Jackson voiced his displeasure with the Philadelphia organization on and off the field, as it pertained to his contract. San Francisco might be able to get him at a discount price, as I'm sure the Cal-product wouldn't mind returning to a warmer climate. With this move, the 49ers would get that downfield explosive threat they're now on the lookout for.
Peyton Manning: There's been a lot of Peyton Manning talk. And as the weeks go on, it's progressed from ‘how are him and Andrew Luck going to co-exist' to examining what teams Manning is going to. I'll admit, it does seem like the Colts are planning for the future. I'm not even sure if Reggie Wayne or Robert Mathis will be re-signed. But if Manning is to become that coveted free agent, he will have his pick of the litter as far as NFL teams go. From there on it's simple: paring Peyton Manning with the 49er defense means multiple championships - dynasty championships. It would be like Jordan with Bulls, Gretzky with the Oilers or the Miami Hurricanes from '83 to 2001. It may be short-lived, but the Niners could feasibly collect one or two more Lombardi trophies with this move.
Justin Blackmon: The 49ers don't have a Roddy White, so it wouldn't be as ballsy as the Falcons trading up for Julio Jones - if anything, it's a more explainable move. The 49ers jumping up in the first to get the only other two-time Biletnikoff Award Winner beside their own Michael Crabtree would be a huge deal. Crabtree and Blackmon were once the two undisputed receiving kings of NCAA football. The opportunity for them to be on the same team and how they would complement each other so well could be what gets the 49er offense over that hump. However, it would take quite a bit of effort by the 49ers front office to get such a move done, and it's farfetched as far as the Niners go.
Under the Radar Acquisitions
Harry Douglas, WR, ATL
Jerome Simpson, WR, CIN
Jake Scott, G, TEN
Eric Wright, CB, DET
Laurent Robinson, WR, DAL
Pierre Garcon, WR, IND
The 49ers could bring any mix of these players to upgrade the competition at the according positions. Shawntae Spencer is a player that might have just fallen away from the new order in San Francisco; it's like the bus left and Spencer wasn't on it. I could see him getting cut loose this offseason. But with the 49ers already thin at corner, they could look to add in free agency and the draft. I think Eric Wright from Detroit could be a good fit. The 49ers jump at the opportunity to play nickel with the rise of Aldon Smith, but now that means they need to be deeper on the backend. I also like that the Niners already had an awesome corner named Eric Wright, and it was also the birth name of Cali's own and N.W.A.'s thrilling front man, Eazy-E.
Douglas, Simpson and Garcon, I feel could be instant inserts into the Niners offense. They display good hands and all have big play ability. Laurent Robinson is an interesting character because of a couple monster games he put on with Dallas this season. I believe he'll see offers, but if he chooses the wrong team, he could disappear again. Robinson should either stay with Dallas or go to an offensively-sound football team that understands catering to a player's abilities to get their optimum performance.
And Jake Scott is a veteran guard with toughness. If the 49ers do not re-sign Adam Snyder with a permanent role at right guard, they should look to add Scott or even Ben Grubbs of the Baltimore Ravens.
Whatever happens, I'm excited for Trent Baalke to get back to work.
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