Friday, July 19, 2013

49ers Add Eric Wright to Cornerback Competition

After identifying cornerback as an area in which this team could improve after last season, the 49ers have been proactive in doing just that. They brought in former pro-bowler Nnamdi Asomugha earlier this offseason and have just now completed a trade with the Tampa Bay Bucs that landed them Eric Wright.

All the Niners had to part with in order to obtain Wright was a conditional late round pick in next April's draft, so on the surface, it looks like the 49ers could come away with a steal. Wright had a big year in 2011 in which he recorded 73 tackles and 4 interceptions with 16 PD's. However, he was suspended for PED use and missed 6 games in 2012 which resulted in an off-year (34 Tackles, 1 Int). Much like Asomugha, Wright will be trying to get back to his career norm with the fresh start in San Francisco, and I definitely think it was a good add. Not to mention, he restructured his deal with Tampa earlier this summer and his salary figure for 2013 is just $1.5M guaranteed. I'm just a little curious as to why Tampa was willing to dump him so cheaply. His salary base for next year wasn't large, he's a free agent after the season and he was slated to line-up opposite of Darelle Revis to compose one of the better CB duo's in the league. Either way, it's a risk I think the 49ers were well off in taking.

Now, what does this do to the 49ers already growing depth at corner? Again, they brought in Asomugha earlier this summer and if he plays anything like he did when he was across the bay in Oakland, then he's a sure fire #1 corner for this team. The same can be said for Wright. If the season started tomorrow, I'm sure Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown would get the nod, but Jim Harbough has this competition wide open and if the two newcomers play up to their standards, then they should be starting come September. There's also Chris Culliver (who looked like a budding star at times last season), Parrish Cox and Tramaine Brock who all played significant roles in the 49ers Super Bowl run last season. The 49ers secondary was certainly a weakness as the season wore on last year, and was exposed badly in the Super Bowl by a team that wasn't considered a top passing squad. Now they'll be asking rookie Erick Reid to step into the departed DaShon Goldson's spot, which is going to be huge shoes to fill for the first rounder, so it's going to be key that this team is strong, and deep, at the corner position.

The one guy who could become expendable now is Carlos Rogers. His play deteriorated down the stretch last season and he was nowhere near the player he was for this team in 2011. Plus the Niners could clear $5 million in cap space by releasing him. However, he was the teams top CB in 2011, and they may roll the dice on the chance of him bouncing back to that form. Either way, it should be a situation to monitor closely in the coming weeks.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Warriors Get Their Man in Iguodala

Andre Iguodala had been on the Warriors radar for the past few seasons and this week they were finally able to obtain him, though it did come at a price.

On the surface, when looking at the players the Warriors let go in order to clear the space to give Iggy his 4 year, $48 million deal, you'd think Golden State came out with a flat out steal. They were able to convince the Utah Jazz to take on the expiring contracts of Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush, none of whom played a significant role in the Warriors playoff run last season. Rush probably would have been a key cog had it not been for the injury that knocked him out before the season even began, but Jeff and Biedrins were hardly used throughout the '12-'13 campaign. However, the Jazz weren't just going to take on those bad contracts without the Warriors giving up something, and they were able to get two future Warrior first round picks, and two second rounders as well. Know, the Warriors brass is hoping that this is the beginning of some sort of dynasty that will put the Dubs in the playoffs for years to come, as they've built a sound young nucleus and should only get better over the next couple of years, but still, two first rounders could end up being a steep price to pay. Nonetheless, I give the move an A because they were able to turn that cap space into a player that makes this team a whole helluva lot better.

Though they still get out and run, and can put points on the board, the Warriors have changed their identity under Coach Jackson as one of the tougher defending teams in the league. With the direction Jackson has this team going, Iguodala makes perfect sense. He's an all-league defender, in the prime of his career, and certainly has the ability to get out and run and knock down the 3-pointer, all qualities which should play greatly with this young Warriors squad. Just look at what he did in the series between Denver and Golden State in April: 18 ppg, 8 rpg, 5.5 assists, 2 steals and a 48% mark on 3-point attempts. With the Warriors brass already interested in him, I'm sure his showing in that series just pushed him over the top in their eyes. The only question the 'Dubs now have to deal with though, is how exactly they'll divide playing time between Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and their new $48M weapon. There had been rumblings of the Warriors possibly including either Barnes or Thompson with Andrew Bogut in a trade with the Lakers to get Dwight Howard, but with Howard landing in Houston, that's no longer an option.

It's hardly a bad problem to have though if your the Warriors. Most likely, someone will have to come off the bench in a 6th man role, but either way, all 3 of those guys should be getting 30+ minutes a night. I'm sure that whoever the hot hand is will see a little more PT, but my guess is that Iguodala would be the Warriors 6th man if there are no other significant moves made with the returning starting 5. This signing also precludes the Warriors from being able to retain Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry which is a bit of a blow to the overall team depth, especially the way Jack played down the stretch and in the playoffs, but one thing the Warriors have had success with over the years is finding suitable backup point guards and I think
Bob Myers will do that again this summer.