Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Options Dwindling for 49ers

Well, at the start of free agency, the 49ers stood in a very promising position. They were nearly 20 million under the cap and had specific targets who were thought to be attainable. However, as we inch towards the preseason opener at the end of next week, the 49ers have yet to add a prominent outside free-agent.

They did ink a linebacker over the weekend, grabbing former Charger Antwan Applewhite, who figures to come in and back up at the outside linebacker spot. He also could find himself in the starters role if the 49ers aren't able to replace Manny Lawson and don't feel Aldon Smith is ready for the full-time load. One guy who is available and has had success in the 3-4 defense is former Brown, Matt Roth. I think Roth is by far the best fit at OLB for the 49ers, as that is a position that is very thin in free agency. After Roth, the other options are guys like Tully Banta-Cain and Ben Leber. At inside linebacker, the 49ers are looking more and more likely to role with 2nd year man Navarro Bowman, but they could look for a veteran as their are some decent options. I would like Lofa Tatupu, but he's seeking a long-term deal and the 49ers eventually want Bowman teaming with Willis inside. Two other guys who would fit nicely as upgrades in the short-term are Akin Ayodele, Channing Crowder and former Raider Kirk Morrison.

Perhaps San Francisco's biggest need yet to addressed though is their cornerback situation. They won't be bringing back Nate Clements either, who landed in Cinci after the 49ers cut him to make a run at Asomugha and Joseph. Now the one guy I'm looking at and the guy the 49ers are probably pining their hopes on is former first round pick Carlos Rogers. Washington is expected to make a large push to keep Rogers in DC, but you'd think he would have signed already if he wanted to be there. The 49ers may need to overpay a bit as he's the best available FA corner that won't cost a draft pick to sign and would be a fine consolation to Nnamdi Asomugha. One of the biggest names on the trade market at the CB position is the Eagles' Asante Samuel. He became expendable after Philly added Rogers-Crowmartie in the Kevin Kolb trade, but Philly would likely want the 49ers 1st or 2nd rounder in 2012. The 49ers could also look to upgrade at defensive tackle, depending on how Issac Sopogoa adapts. One big name, in all every since of the word, is Pat Williams, who could be a nice clog in the middle of the 3-4 scheme for a year.

Offensively, the 49ers are still looking at wide receivers and centers. They have apparently been in talks with Braylon Edwards' agent, but may shy off after all the off-field drama he's been involved in this summer. I still think he'd be a great add and is one of the top free agents still out there, and if the Niners are indeed going to make a splash this year, it looks like Edwards could be that signing. Even though most of the top options have signed elsewhere, I think the 49ers could still be successful in free agency if they were to bring in Olin Kruetz, Edwards (or Malcom Floyd if they can't agree with Edwards), Carlos Rogers at corner, Matt Roth at OLB and give a 1-2 year deal for Ayodele or Morrison to take over Takeo Spikes' former role. Oh yeah, and bring back Dashon already!

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