It's mid-July and we are coming upon the beginning of the 2012 49ers training camp where rookies are set to report this weekend. San Francisco does still have an available roster spot and as we've seen, the front office is always interested in exploring what's available.
Of course, entering training camp it would be a luxury to have that spot available when inevitable injuries occur. But if the 49ers were curious enough to add an extra body before camp, what are a few sensible directions they could go?
According to Pro Football Talk, San Francisco has $3.39M left in cap space, which is sufficient enough room to structure a deal considering the remaining market.
Follow me after the jump for an open discussion relating to some pursuable options heading into training camp.
The San Francisco 49ers wanted to add depth to their linebacking corps this offseason and did so by investing two picks in this past draft on Notre Dames' Darius Fleming and Virginia's Cam Johnson. Fleming sustained a season-ending ACL injury and was the higher of the two picks. Additionally, Johnson underwent a minor surgical procedure on his knee, which could hinder his progress at any given time.
The 49ers intended on having these two players, so given the circumstances, they could be in the market for an extra body at that position.
Joey Porter is currently an available free agent, and a direction the 49ers could look to go if they thought he could still contribute. Porter, 35, is a pass rush specialist that has accumulated 98 sacks in thirteen seasons, 1.5 sacks behind DeMarcus Ware in career total. Porter could come in as a situational rusher, while Aldon Smith transitions to a starter.
He hasn't missed a lot of time; he played 6 games for the Cardinals in 2011. Porter is also a freakish athlete, which alleviates the possible age concern, especially when you consider the fact that Ray Lewis is still rockin' n' rollin' at two years his senior.
Porter could feasibly come in as a backup and fill a role as a situational rusher, and you can never have enough pass rushers. He would be asked to perform in a defense -- with guys like Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman -- where he could disappear because he isn't the No.1 concern for offenses anymore, so he'll be underestimated.
With the cap space and available slot, it couldn't hurt to try for one more under-the-radar move by giving Joey Porter a physical, followed by a training camp tryout in Santa Clara.
This is a direction San Francisco could go mid-way through training camp to shake things up on the offensive line, and to provide depth if nothing else. Scott is a very capable interior lineman who is now a free agent after a stint with the Tennessee Titans.
Scott has experience to pass on as he was the starting right guard for the 2006 Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts. Scott, 31, is a skilled pass protector which could not hurt to have, especially with the uncertainty thus far at the position and the fact that San Francisco is looking to make a statement with their passing attack in 2012.
He also blocked for Chris Johnson with the Titans, so if need-be, he could step into the lineup and provide a presence in the run game. He doesn't come with injury history and the Niners could use him as an extra blocker in their heavy formations instead of putting Isaac Sopoaga at risk.
As we know, today is the franchise deadline and talks with Dashon Goldson have been at a standstill. Even though he's committed to playing and being a 49er, people in general can be unpredictable, so he could very well have a change of heart at any time. If Goldson continues to be a no-show, the 49ers will continue to go with C.J. Spillman; they also drafted Michigan State safety Trenton Robinson.
If Goldson does not show, San Francisco would suddenly have a gaping hole in their defense, with no proven experience to step in and be a stop-gap. Out of the remaining safeties, I believe there are four potential names that could be brought in to provide depth and competition at free safety.
The Niners could look to extend invitations to Jim Leonhard, Bob Sanders, Deon Grant or Chris Harris.
Leonhard is a blue collar football player who's played with two strong defenses at one point in the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets. He is currently a free agent and like all of these players, could probably be gotten for near the league minimum. Leonhard is a good tackler that I believe could benefit and become a better ball player with some good coaching, like Ed Donatell, Vic Fangio and Jim Harbaugh could all provide.
Sanders, Grant and Harris are all 30's-range veteran players that have all had success in this league in their respective careers. Sanders, while the most prolific of the three, has the biggest red flag due to his medical history - he is extremely injury-prone. Grant is fresh off a Super Bowl title with the New York Giants, and could rejoin two of his former teammates in San Francisco.
Harris' last productive season wasn't all that long ago; in 2010, Harris, 29, rejoined the Chicago Bears and accumulated 70 tackles to go with his 5 interceptions and earned his first All-Pro selection.
Any one of these three potential routes are practical, however unlikely pursued by San Francisco. The Niners will probably play it safe and keep the spot available, and if not, it'd be interesting to see if they were keeping tabs on any of these remaining veterans.