It’s fast paced, it’s cut-throat, and it’s wildly entertaining. No, I’m not referring to a Cleveland Browns game.
Although, that’s where one of the top San Francisco 49ers free agents is heading. Free Agency season began in the NFL Tuesday, claiming top billing among sports affiliated broadcasts and websites everywhere. On a day where all basketball and hockey are in full swing and baseball is starting up, the dormant NFL dominated headlines.
One of those headlines was former 49ers safety Donte Whitner signing on the dotted line with the Browns for a reported four-year, $28 million deal. I’ll be the first to admit it. I don’t like it, because I liked Whitner. He is a talented player and was a very reputable representative of the San Francisco 49ers organization. In saying that, I fully understand it. NFL players have a small window to maximize their earning potential. And, to stay put in a certain spot for the location, winning, or simply the fans is all too unrealistic. So, Donte Whitner went back home to Ohio.
I did say fast paced and cut-throat didn’t I? Figuratively speaking, as soon as one “ex” player is walking out the door a new player walks in immediately after. The 49ers reached an agreement with former Colts safety Antoine Bethea. According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, Bethea’s contract is a four-year, $21 million deal. I’m not going to spin it like I know too much about Bethea. Although he’s been an Indianapolis Colt for eight years, I can safely say, I haven’t watched a ton of Colts games over that time period. From what I’ve read, 49ers GM Trent Baalke replaced Whitner with a comparable version that has better coverage skills. And the kicker, he got him for cheaper.
Speaking of kickers, the 49ers retained Phil Dawson for another two years. Although getting up there in years (39), retaining a reliable kicker is an essential thing for the 49ers offense. The offense has sputtered far too many times in the past few years on the opposition’s side of the field. Phil Dawson’s leg gives the Niners a reliable weapon to add points when that happens.
And now to the “I sure as hell did not see that coming,” portion of the 49ers day yesterday. In a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the 49ers traded a 6th round pick for quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert’s three year career with the Jaguars has been putrid and injury-laden. Once a promising top ten pick in 2010 (same year as Kap), Gabbert never solidified himself in Jacksonville. The most that can be said about him is that he has potential, and maybe Jim Harbaugh can work his QB magic and turn him into a respectable pro.
To finish the day off, the 49ers traded a conditional draft pick to the Miami Dolphins for embattled tackle Jonathan Martin. I’ll leave my personal feelings aside on this matter and only comment on my presumed stance from the 49ers organization. Players within the organization will continue the stance that Martin is welcome fully as long as he gives the team a better chance of winning. As the head of the team, Jim Harbaugh will take a dual stance. He’ll spend time with arms wide open and with two fists up in fighting position. A media firestorm is going to follow this deal. It’s just natural in this day and age. It will be Harbaugh’s position, mainly, to weather that storm. He’ll put a front of acceptance and at the same time be willing to defend Jonathan Martin consistently. It’ll be interesting to say the least.
*Eric Wright also resigned with the 49ers. A++ move.