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Alex Smith, Delanie Walker ranked No. 81, 82 in NFL Network Top 100

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NFL Network continued its look at the "top 100" players in the NFL, releasing players 81-90 earlier this week. In an amusing coincidence, a pair of ex-49ers showed up back-to-back. Kansas City Chiefs QB Alex Smith was ranked No. 81, and Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker was ranked No. 82. The rankings are determined by some kind of player vote that is not entirely clear.

We've talked about Smith plenty, but the Walker ranking comes with good timing. Late last week, Walker and the Tennessee Titans agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension, worth as much as $14.7 million, with $8.2 million guaranteed. Walker was signed through this upcoming season, and now is signed through the 2018 season. He previously signed with the Titans in 2013, getting a four-year deal worth $17.5 million.

Walker has taken a huge step forward in his three seasons with the Titans. He took over the No. 1 tight end role, and last season was a huge weapon for Marcus Mariota. He had career highs in receptions (94), yards (1,088), and touchdowns (6). His numbers have improved each of his three seasons in Tennessee (2013: 60/571/6, 2014: 63/890/4).

49ers general manager Trent Baalke has struggled at times with his draft picks, and he has missed on some free agent signings. One area he has generally done well is deciding not to re-sign certain players, for one reason or another. The 49ers have generally seen players depart and not play nearly as well as they did in San Francisco. This is not the case every time of course, with Delanie Walker being arguably the most notable example.

The 49ers signed Davis to a contract extension back in 2010, which locked him up through 2015. Walker departed after the 2012 season, and I don't think many of us were all that surprised. He was looking for more opportunities, and they were not going to happen in San Francisco. He made huge contributions to the team, but he was not going to be the No. 1 tight end. Davis' numbers took a dip in 2012, dropping to 41 receptions, 548 yards and five touchdowns. The next year, Walker's first in Tennessee, Davis had 52 receptions, 850 yards, and 13 touchdowns. After that, things went south in a hurry.

I'm glad that things are working out well for Walker, but obviously I would prefer they be happening with the 49ers. The 49ers offense did not plummet the year after Walker left, but the run game did take a hit. I don't know that Walker would have gotten them through against the Seahawks, but it was still a painful departure.