The Super Bowl is this Sunday and for the first time in a long time I will not enjoy it. Since the conclusion of Championship Sunday, all the sports networks are hyping and previewing the Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. I personally have hated it! All I can think of is it should be the San Francisco 49ers playing the Patriots. When I see DE Justin Tuck or QB Eli Manning being interviewed, I picture LB Patrick Willis or DE Justin Smith getting interviewed and wondering what could have been. It is clear that even though the Niner season is over my focus is still on them. My center of attention is towards the free agents. This is the business part of the NFL, deciding what players to keep and the players the organization wants to cut ties with. There are many players on the Niners roster that are noticeable free agents. Here are my top 5.
LB Blake Costanzo, LB Larry Grant, and DB C.J. Spillman are all free agents. Not only are they all free agents but they were all vital parts to the special teams’ coverage unit. The Niners did not allow a single return for a touchdown this season in both punts and kickoffs. Losing these three players can be a determent to the special teams. Hopefully we can keep a couple of these guys around to maintain our stellar special teams. Also Grant was not only a great player on special teams but he did an awesome job filling in for the injured Patrick Willis for four games. I believe Grant is going to be looking for a starting position elsewhere.
5. LB Ahmad Brooks
Brooks was one of the starting outside linebackers for the Niners this past season. His primary role was rushing the passer, but also did good stopping the run. He finished the season with 49 tackles, 7 sacks, and 1 force fumble. Although I like Brooks’s role in the Niners defense; he is expendable. Rookie LB Aldon Smith was not a starter this season and still registered 14 sacks. Would not surprise me if Brooks left the team, but I hope he stays. Keeping Brooks will give us depth.
4. WR Ted Ginn Jr.
I don’t want to say it but I am, Kyle f***ing Williams. If Ginn plays in the Giants game, I believe we win the game. Ginn is a very reliable returner. He did great things in the return game throughout the season. Just like Costanzo, Grant, and Spillman; keeping Ginn will keep our special teams strong. The downside of Ginn is as a wide receiver. The wide receiver position is in of need of improvement for the Niners. Ginn does not improve the position.
3. CB Carlos Rogers
Rogers had a resurrection this season. After having a mediocre career in Washington, he had his best season by far in the NFL. Rogers had 6 interceptions this season (a career high) and continually helped shut down opposing receivers. The great season lead to his first Pro Bowl selection. Unfortunately the Niners only signed him to a one year deal during last season’s free agency period. Believe that Rogers will be looking for a healthy contract.
Teams like the Dallas Cowboys who desperately need cornerbacks will pursue Rogers strongly. Niners will have to be willing to offer a large sum of money in order to keep him. The only downside I see in Rogers is the possibility of his season being a one year wonder. He needed a big year this past season, once he receives his payday will that cause a drop off in his play? It is difficult to predict.
2. QB Alex Smith
Alex had a remarkable season after a much malign career. He finished the season with 19 total touchdowns (17 passing, 2 rushing) and only 5 interceptions. Alex also had multiple clutch moments during the season leading many fourth quarter comebacks; the most memorable being in the playoff divisional round versus the New Orleans Saints. The greatest Niner game I have ever seen.
But is Alex reliable to keep the Niners on the winning track? If teams like the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins bid high on Alex, will the Niners be willing to match the offer? These are the questions surrounding Alex at the moment. It is going to come down to Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, if their relationship is as good as the media believes it is then maybe Alex will stick around.
Do not forget backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The Niners drafted Kaepernick in the second round this past NFL draft. If the organization believes his future is bright, it will make the decision to let go of Alex easier. But I think the Niners sign Alex with many incentives in the contract.
1. FS Dashon Goldson
Alex is the most intriguing free agent, but Dashon should be at the top on the Niners list. Dashon is an elite safety in the league. He really came full circle this season. Dashon had always been a hard hitter, now he also has the timing and anticipation in pass defending. He finished the season with 6 interceptions and 67 tackles; making his first Pro Bowl appearance.
He is a must sign for the Niners. Dashon is a huge part to the Niners defense. Justin Smith is the leader of the defense line, Patrick Willis is the leader of the linebackers, and Dashon is the leader of the defensive backs. Losing him will be a set back for the defense. A defense that was ferocious all season long.
It will be interesting who comes and goes this off season. I just hope the right decisions are made for the franchise. Go Niners!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!