(editors note: Tarell Brown signed with Oakland Raiders shortly after the publishing of this article)
The 2014 NFL off-season is in full swing and football fans everywhere want to know what their team has been up to.
For 49er faithful everywhere, this is as hard an off-season as a Super Bowl loss especially when your NFC rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, are fresh off a Super Bowl victory. While most teams in the NFL are trying to keep pace with the Seahawks, the 49ers know better. One play shy of a second straight Super Bowl appearance and three straight NFC championship game appearances, it’s quite clear the 49ers are only a step away from their sixth Lombardi trophy. And while the 49ers don’t have as big a jump to make as other teams, there are still significant pieces to their quest that must be addressed.
Cornerbacks are the talk of the town for 49er fans this off season as they have only three on the roster at the moment. Derrelle Revis, Aqib Talib, Vontae Davis are all off the market. CB Walter Thurmond of the Seattle Seahawks has expressed interest in the 49ers as well as CB Chris Cook of the Minnesota Vikings who visited the 49ers yesterday (3/13) and apparently signed with the 49ers according to @NFL_Access and other sources.
Wide receiver has also been a concern but the general thought is the 49ers will draft a few wideouts. There are reports that WR Hakeem Nicks of the New York Giants has interest in the 49ers but Julian Edelman from the New England Patriots is visiting San Francisco today (3/14) and Emmanuel Sanders of the Pittsburgh Steelers will visit the 49ers Saturday (3/15).
So lets recap:
Following the NFC championship game loss, the 49ers wasted no time signing 13 players to reserve/future contracts.
But as the NFL Draft Combine began the 49ers stories began to swirl:
•Jim Harbaugh almost traded to the Browns (not really though)
•Jim Harbaugh and 49ers GM Trent Baalke don’t get along
•Quarterback Colin Kaepernick says he wants $18m/yr
Never a dull moment in red and gold country when you’re on a “Quest for Six”, and those were just the headlines for that one week.
Everyone in Niners Nation breathed a sigh of relief hearing that wide receiver Anquan Boldin would return for two years to the 49ers. Most fans were also pleased to hear that kicker Phil Dawson will also return for two years. Additionally the 49ers completed a one year deal for cornerback Eric Wright.
•Anquan Boldin – 2ys/$12m ($2.4m counts this year)
•Phil Dawson (has only agreed to terms, has not signed)
•Eric Wright (veteran minimum – $855,000)
It didn’t come as a surprise to most when the 49ers cut ties with CB Carlos Rogers and saved nearly $6.6m in cap space this year. So far they have not released any other players.
Historically the 49ers have never been an organization that looks to pay out bundles of cash in free agency to fill voids. Traditionally the 49ers have always looked to the draft, worked to develop their own players and land bargain deals for role players. The last big name signing I can remember is Deion Sanders who was still in his prime, however Justin Smith continues to be who we thought he was.
This off-season appears to be no different. The 49ers did lose hard-hitting safety Donte Whitner to the Cleveland Browns, which wasn’t really surprising to most, although ask and most Niner fans will tell you they would want “Hitner” back.
Antoine Betha joins the 49ers coming over from the Indianapolis Colts and the Niners shouldn’t lose much other than chemistry in the secondary as it has been completely renovated.
•Antoine Betha – 4yrs/$21m ($3m counts this year)
The 49ers still have the following free agents to address:
•QB Colt McCoy
•RB Anthony Dixon
•WR Kassim Osgood
•WR Mario Manningham
•C Jonathan Goodwin
•CB Tarell Brown
•CB Perrish Cox
The 49ers have always been open to trades in the past, this year is no different. With 13 total draft picks this year the 49ers could afford to give up a couple draft picks to aquire some added depth at the quarterback and tackle positions.
I believe the Jonathan Martin trade was a good one for football in general. I also believe the Blaine Gabbert trade will give Jim Harbaugh a project during the off-season.
As much as I hate the off-season talk, this off-season could be the most important one in recent 49ers history.