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The worst free-agent signings of the last six years

We explore the free agents that Trent Baalke may regret adding, dating back to his time as director of player personnel.


Yesterday, we tackled the best free-agent signings for the San Francisco 49ers of the past six years. Today, we're going to look back at some of the busts. I'm not entirely sure why us sports fans do this to ourselves, but boy do we love a good train wreck retrospective.

While there are some soft rumors out there of big name free agents the Niners could seek this off-season, it's probably more likely that the team is seeking role players with their limited cap space as they try to lock up some of their big-name stars long term. If the latter is true, the likelihood of a bust is low since such a player would come on a lower dollar deal with lower expectations.

But, you never know what will happen from GM Trent Baalke's office. Like yesterday, we'll go back to 2008, when Trent Baalke's influence grew as he became director of player personnel, knowing that Scot McCloughan had his hand in some of these.. We're just plucking an arbitrary date that includes some of the current regime's doings.

QB David Carr (2008)

Maybe this is a little mean to Carr, piling on a guy who was a first overall pick in the draft for an expansion team, busted and then came to the Bay Area as a backup. But it's not like Alex Smith was in a much different situation at the time. There were several questions surrounding Smith, and it was worth a shot to see if another former top pick could be revitalized under a new offensive coordinator.

Carr replaced Smith when the latter went down with a shoulder injury against the Carolina Panthers. Carr struggled and eventually threw a fourth-quarter interception that sealed a loss for the struggling Niners.

OC Mike Martz (2008)

Did someone say Mike Martz? Yeah, this is a bit of a stretch because Martz was a coach and not a player. But, he was a free agent, and he did come here and completely bust. You don't need to do any research to figure out when Vernon Davis had his worst statistical season.

It made zero sense to bring in an offensive coordinator who doesn't use his tight ends when you've got perhaps the premier player in the league at that position, and Martz gave us what we all figured he would.

WR Braylon Edwards (2011)

Edwards was coming off a 904-yard, seven touchdown catch season with the New York Jets when he joined San Francisco. I don't know that expectations were through the roof or anything, but I also don't think anyone expected what seemed like poor effort from the veteran. There were times when it seemed like he didn't fight for balls, and just gave off an overall aura of aloofness.

When you consider the team's resurgence and run toward the playoffs under new coach Jim Harbaugh, you'd think a guy running out of chances would put forth more. I hate to draw conclusions from nothing more than a game-day eye test, but it sure felt like there was so much more potential from Edwards.

RB Brandon Jacobs (2012)

Where do we even start, or end? Five carries for seven yards probably didn't even fit the most pessimistic assumption of Jacobs' potential when the team signed him. The thought of a backfield that featured Jacobs' bruising running to go along with the steadiness of Frank Gore was a nice one. When Kendall Hunter went down with an injury, there was an even bigger hope that Jacobs could help out.

The help never came, though, and Jacobs' tenure ended in a nasty, unfriendly way.

CB Nnamdi Asomugha (2013)

Asomugha's inclusion on this list could have been a lot more prominent, headlined in giant flashing text. The 49ers made a run at him back when he left the Oakland Raiders, but he ultimately opted to go to the Philadelphia Eagles on that five-year deal with $25 million in guarantees.

Typically speaking, short-term deals -- especially the one-year variety -- are rarely bad as they carry such a small risk. That's the case here with Asomugha and his time with the Niners, having only earned $1.35 million in his base salary. It was sure nice to think of a revival in Vic Fangio's defense, though.

Luckily for the 49ers, they haven't had a massive sink-hole contract come their way via free agency over the past half decade or so. As the team has improved, they've added role players and been able to lock up their own stable of talent for the long haul. The busts that they have had have been reclamation projects that came with relatively low expectations.

Let's hope that this coming off-season sees that trend continue.