Thursday, July 28, 2011

Player Movement Galore Hits Bay Area

Well, we all knew it was going to be an active few days here as July winds down. The NFL lockout just ended 72 hours ago and the MLB trade deadline sits just 72 hours away, and things are jumping on both sides.

Locally, the San Francisco Giants have made one of the most noteworthy moves of all sports franchises Thursday by acquiring all-star outfielder Carlos Beltran from the New York Mets for top prospect Zach Wheeler. For all the rants and thoughts on that deal, check out our Giants Baseball Blog. In this post, I want to stick with the NFL and the 49ers especially. Niner fans are well aware by now that Alex Smith has agreed to a deal to be the 49ers starting quarterback again in 2011 which we all were anticipating, I'm just surprised the Niners had to fork over $5 million in guaranteed money in order to keep Smith. I don't think there was much of a market for him and they probably could have gotten him for half that. Regardless, the Niners made a big move to put themselves over $16 million under the salary cap Thursday by releasing former pro-bowl corner Nate Clements. The corner's situation was growing cloudier by the day as the 49ers have made no secret that their pursuing other top free agent cornerbacks, namely Nnamdi Asomugha and Jonathan Joseph. Asomugha is the top player on the free agent market, and the 49ers are going to have to outbid more than a few teams for his services, but by clearing out Clements salary, they're in position to do just that. I expect one them to join San Fran otherwise they wouldn't have confidently let Clements go like they did.

Another guy apparently high on the 49ers radar is former Bears all-pro center Olin Kruetz. Last years starter David Bass quickly signed with the Giants, leaving the 49ers out of a starting center. If they can't woo Kruetz, they could rely on an in house candidate like Adam Snyder or rookie David Kilgore. I would love to see the Niners bring in a smart, useful veteran like Kruetz to help anchor the line and bring along some of the teams bright young lineman so I definitely see logic in that move. Another move I'd like to see the 49ers pursue is possibly bringing in former Cal defensive tackle Brandon Mebene who's spent the last few seasons in Seattle. The 49ers are thin at defensive tackle and could use a guy like Mebane who's had success rushing the passer from the inside. I like Issac Sopogoa, but now that Aubrayo Franklin's out of the picture, the 49ers need more depth there, and I actually think Mebane is a better option than Ike. He's younger, bigger and more explosive and probably wouldn't cost the 49ers an arm and a leg to acquire. Right now I'm just not at all excited about their D-Line outside of Justin Smith. They're handing Ray McDonald the starting left end spot and he collected 0.0 sacks in 16 games last season. They just don't generate much pass rush up front and Mebene or a guy like Cullen Jenkins could certainly help.

These are just a few things going on in the crazy NFL free agent frenzy and we'll keep you up date as often as possible here in the next couple days as free agents settle in. As far as the Raiders are concerned, I've heard or read absolutely nothing of substance that tells me they're going to be players in free agency. They're over the cap and need to clear space which they need to focus on before they can look for a replacement for Asomugha, re-signing Zach Miller and trying to upgrade their wideout spot in a deep WR market.

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