Last offseason, we saw the 49ers front office put together an under-the-radar free agency class that turned into arguably the best in the league. Trent Baalke bided his time and after the first and even second waves of free agency washed over the league, he hit up some fantastic bargain-basement options and struck gold over and over again.
As we move towards 2012 free agency, it will be interesting to see if the 49ers engage in a similar process of biding their time. Last year was a bit of an anomaly given the impact of the lockout. Additionally, given how much of a copy-cat league the NFL can be, I'm curious whether other teams will follow the 49ers plan of last year and look for better value options. It raises all sorts of question marks as to how the 49ers will act in free agency this year.
While we sit and wait, I thought it would be fun to take another approach to free agency. Due to the end of many contracts and the numerous one year contracts signed last season, something like 25% of the league will hit unrestricted free agency this year. While a lot of the bigger names will be franchised or re-signed, there will still be a ton of talent hitting the market in six weeks.
Using the Footballs Future list of free agents (might not be 100% accurate, but it's close), if you could sign one free agent from the list of available players, who would it be? There are a few rules for this little game. It cannot be Drew Brees. We'll assume he gets re-signed and take him off the list since I would imagine plenty of people would jump all over that. At the same time, you can assume Peyton Manning is released by the Colts.
If you want to add a big-name running back, you basically have to be willing to cut Frank Gore. If for some reason you want to add DE Robert Mathis, you would need to figure out a solution for the position he would play and where on the roster he would fit. The basic idea is that while it's a fantasy in that everybody (but Brees) is on the table, it needs some semblance of realism in your solution. So, go to town with the next great free agent signing by the 49ers.