At 9:00PM (PST) last night the 2010 NFL free agency period started and even with the Niners needing upgrades at safety, cornerback and offensive line don’t expect the team to make any big signings like they have in past years with DE Justin Smith and CB Nate Clements. I suspect the 49ers will sign some free agents but none of the big names available unless they are still around later in the free agency period. I would love to see the 49ers upgrade the cornerback position by singing former Texans CB Dunta Robinson but with him making $10 million last year because he had a franchise tag he will most likely be aiming for around those numbers when a team approaches him. If Robinson is still looking for a team a couple weeks from now the 49ers could offer him contract. The offensive line, notably the tackle position, will be upgraded with one of the two first round draft picks the Niners have. When free agency is over and if the 49ers have not upgraded the secondary, expect them to use one of the first round picks on a safety or cornerback. Secondary and offensive line positions have consistently shown that they can make the most impact right away as starters in the NFL.
With all the available running backs in free agency this year it might be wise for the Niners to go after one of them to take some of the load off running back Frank Gore. Gore is still the number one option at RB but I think head coach Mike Singletary still holds onto his vision of a smash-mouth style of run game which Gore by himself cannot do. Going after the likes of Jason Snelling (restricted free agent), Larry Johnson (unrestricted free agent), Darren Sproles (RFA), Ronnie Brown (URA), Thomas Jones or LaDainian Tomlinson to name a few would be a good move. Problem is some are over 30 (Johnson, Jones, Tomlinson) and would still want a chance to be a starter no matter how much their skills have diminished and the younger players will must likely only sign with a team knowing they can start. I love Gore and think he should be the featured back but in a few years the Niners but be in a position like the Chargers are in now where they have had their star running back return dismal numbers because of age. Niners backup RB Glen Coffee is still a work in progress as he showed last year replacing an injured Gore so it would make sense for the Nners to bring in another running back, no matter the age, to take off the pressure for Coffee even if for just one or two years. If Gore or (insert over age 30 free agent running back here) gets hurt Coffee would have to come into action and we don’t know what we would get out of Coffee. That is a problem but having Coffee learn under not only Gore but maybe someone like Tomlinson or Jones would be beneficial. But the only way the 49ers are going to sign any of the big free agent running backs is if other teams stay away and go for the younger backs available giving up draft picks for RFA’s. Don’t expect the 49ers to sign a RFA because of the draft picks they have or to draft a running back in any of the early rounds. They will address their secondary and offensive line issues first in the draft before going after a running back.
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