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2012 NFL Free Agents: Was 49ers 2011 Philosophy Affected By The Lockout?

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NFL free agency kicks off March 13, which is just over a month away. The 49ers have some important free agents, while also having a few holes to fill throughout the roster. The return to a normal offseason means they can plug up some gaps through free agency and then move on to the draft to wrap things up. Last year, the lockout forced teams to go through the draft first and then figure out free agency in late July.

The 49ers had a strong draft and a strong run through free agency last season. As they get ready for this season's run on free agents, I find myself trying to sort through what kind of strategy the 49ers will implement. They went with a very patient approach in 2011 and came up huge with guys like Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner, David Akers and plenty others.

Part of that patient approach might have been predicated on the fact that the team was heading into a season with limited preparation time. They wanted to win sooner rather than later, but given the peculiarities of last season, my thought is that the team figured if things did not work out, relatively inexpensive short term deals would not bite them in the butt. They have to pay the proverbial piper this offseason, but a relatively conservative approach last year makes sense even in hindsight.

However, Coach Harbaugh and his staff and Trent Baalke and the front office now know so much more about what this team is capable of in the face of adversity. They know what they have and what they don't have and they now have a normal offseason to make any necessary changes. I don't expect them to go out and throw money around like drunken sailors, but do they get a little bit more aggressive a year into this thing?

Coach Harbaugh chatted with CSN's Dave Benz down at Pebble Beach. I've posted some video after the jump with some mentions of free agency later in the video.

JIm Harbaugh chats at Pebble Beach