Frustration is beginning to mount with this 49ers fan. While I did not expect the 49ers to make huge waves in free agency there was expectations that players who helped the team win last year would be re-signed. So far the list of 49er players lost are inside linebacker Takeo Spikes (Chargers), center David Baas (Giants), outside linebacker Manny Lawson (Bengals) and now nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin (Saints). The 49ers and Franklin met to discuss a contract but it took the Saints offering only a one-year deal to lure him away from San Francisco.
I understand the situation the 49ers are in with a new head coach and general manager during a shortened and accelerated free agency. The team does not want to shell out big contracts just for players that are hot at the moment. However the 49ers front office was part of the frenzy to land prized free agent Nnamdi Asomugha with him going to the Eagles. Asomugha wanted to go to a team that could win this season and I am sure he felt more comfortable with the moves the Eagles had made to make them Super Bowl contenders while the 49ers lost their own free agents. I highly doubt Asomugha looked at the 49ers offense, lead by Alex Smith, and thought this is a contending team. In the end though it was probably the high contract that was demanded and Asomugha not wanting to be part of a rebuilding process with the 49ers that is years in the making.
With wide receiver Michael Crabtree out with a foot injury for at least four to six weeks you would think the 49ers front office would be out there trying to land another wide receiver as insurance for Crabtree. I don’t doubt that Crabtree will be back this season but given the way he has played which is not up to the standards of a tenth overall pick we cannot rely on Crabtree being the 49ers main wide receiver. With him missing training camp because of the injury if the 49ers would sign a good wide receiver available the question marks with Crabtree would be eased with the wide receiver getting assimilated with the quarterbacks. It would also take attention off of tight end Vernon Davis who was blanketed by defenses last season who challenged the 49ers to beat them with their wide receivers. But again the 49ers are thinking in the same way with Asomugha, let’s talk of signing the player and then sit on our hands until another team signs them away. There were big name free agent wide receivers available like Santonio Holmes, Vincent Jackson and Sidney Rice but all have signed with other teams. There was word that Plaxico Burress was going to meet with the 49ers and was waiting in Los Angeles to catch a flight to San Francisco before cancelling because the Jets offered him a contract.
How is it that division rivals like the Rams, who signed Mike Sims-Walker, and the Seahawks, who signed Sidney Rice, can sign receivers however the 49ers are fine with the offensive players they have? I am at a point to where I am willing to accepted a noted diva like Braylon Edwards signing with the 49ers because he is the best option available. But the Cardinals might be signing him soon. So with the rumor Edwards might be headed to Arizona that would make three of the four teams in the NFC West upgrading with the 49ers sitting on their hands with Crabtree, Joshua Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr, Dominique Zeigler and Kyle Williams. These are players with promise but the 49ers need receivers that can contribute now to the team.
The 49ers seem satisfied to replace some of their lost players like Spikes, Lawson, Franklin, Baas and Nate Clements at cornerback with their own players already on the team. Three of those positions, center, outside linebacker and nose tackle, are being replaced with players who are switching positions. Adam Snyder will take over at center a position he has never played. Rookie Aldon Smith will most likely be starting at outside linebacker even though he started at defensive end in college. Isaac Sopoaga will move from defensive end to nose tackle.
It is one thing for the 49ers to be cautious with offering free agents contracts because they don’t want to get stuck with a bad long-term deal. It is a whole another thing for the team to sit back and lose their own free agents while not signing anyone to replace them or upgrading both sides of the football with free agents. The Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks have found a way to upgrade their teams while the 49ers stand pat and don’t do much. While the 49ers did well in hiring Jim Harbaugh they have not done anything to upgrade the team to give him at least a fighting chance to compete. I guess I should not have been surprised with the inactivity as GM Trent Baalke did say the 49ers would not make big splashes in free agency. Maybe what I think is an upgrade to the roster is something completely different in Baalke eyes. My conclusion is the 49ers are no longer an attractive place to play in the eyes of this year’s free agents and the front office lead by team president Jed York deserves a lot of blame for this.