The San Francisco 49ers have several notable free agents this year on both sides of the ball. On offense, left guard Mike Iupati, wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and running back Frank Gore are big questions. On defense, Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox were starters this past year. However, one under the radar free agent that will be interesting to track in March has to be outside linebacker Dan Skuta.
ESPN put together a look at NFL free agent sleepers, and they included Skuta. It is behind a pay wall, so here is what they said about Skuta:
The veteran linebacker, who was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent in 2009, was discovered by then-Bengals LBs coach (now their defensive coordinator) Paul Guenther. Skuta played defensive line and linebacker in his collegiate career at Grand Valley State, but has played inside and outside linebacker at the NFL level. After being pressed into the lineup due to injuries with the 49ers the past two seasons, Skuta started 18 games with the team and posted five sacks this season playing on the outside. Personnel executives say that he should have an interesting market should he make it to free agency, due to his versatility.
The other players discussed included RB Roy Helu, WR Cecil Shorts, TE Charles Clay, S Jeron Johnson, S Isa Abdul-Quddus.
Free agency is a little over a month away, starting on March 10. The 49ers were quick on the draw last year in signing Antoine Bethea, but in years past they have been slow out of the gate when it comes to signing players. For the most part the team has done some great work in free agency, both in signing players to solid deals, and also pulling the trigger to replace their own departing free agents.
The team's coaching staff decisions have led to some tumult amongst 49ers fans, but one has to wonder how it might or might not impact the team in free agency. We have heard that three anonymous players were not pleased, but we don't know who the players are or what questions they were asked that elicited this response. The question though is what will this situation say to outside players if the 49ers come knocking? Some might be turned off, but I guarantee you there are players that are not particularly concerned about it. We don't know exactly who cares about what, but it is something that will be on the radar when free agency does start.
As far as Dan Skuta is concerned, I have to think he finds some offers on the open market. I imagine he would recognize that Aaron Lynch is likely the future for the 49ers, so he will be on the lookout for other starting opportunities. He has shown the last two years that he can make an impact in the starting lineup. I would love to see him back on the team, but I think he ends up with some decent offers on the open market.