Fans of the great San Francisco Forty Niners, in order to get you prepared for the off season, specifically free agency I just want to warn you of something. Don’t get your hopes up too high when it comes to the 49ers making a big splash in FA. Don’t get me wrong, Dwayne Bowe, Mario Williams and Ben Grubbs would be awesome.
It’s just not going to happen, sorry to burst your bubble. In fact, I would be surprised if the team brings in any FAs that would be viewed as an upgrade. I’m sure we’ll upgrade something minor like our backup fullback or third string tailback position or whatever. We might make a signing or two that adds some good depth with an aging veteran. But we’re not making any splashes, and nobody should be disappointed in that, here’s why.
The 49ers are one of the best teams in football now and they are built for the long haul. This team was two stupid plays by a back up special teams player from the super bowl. Big changes are not necessary any longer in San Fran (or is it Santa Clara now I can’t keep up). Trent Baalke orchestrated a brilliant plan last year and I have zero doubt he will do another great job this year. On a side note, I love the organization for giving him a contract extension. Once Jim Harbaugh proves he’s the man again in 2012, I want to see the same thing done for him.
The 49ers have some key FAs in Alex Smith, Dashon Goldson, Carlos Rogers and Ahmad Brooks. Smith is all but guaranteed to comeback, I think him and Harbaugh are best friends by now right? Goldson says he really wants to comeback and the organization has told him they want him back. He was quoted as saying he would be completely shocked if he didn’t return. Dashon learned a really hard lesson last year, turning down a five year offer by the 49ers and getting squat on the open market. Settling for a 1 year, $1M deal had to be humbling, pencil Goldson back in.
That leaves Rogers and Brooks. Rogers has stated he will give the 49ers a small discount, but he wants a long term deal, 4 or 5 years he said. Maybe the most brilliant move last season was letting Takeo Spikes walk. Rogers is already 30 years old, and the 49ers won’t get into a bidding war for him. Brooks is in the same category but has an even bigger chance of walking. As a young, pass rushing outside linebacker, he’s going to be in high demand. Those not entering the Mario Williams sweepstakes will no doubt go after Brooks. With Aldon Smith taking over a starting spot at OLB next season regardless of where Brooks plays. I don’t expect Baalke to get into a bidding war for him either.
The reality is, this team would get by fine letting those two walk. Chris Culliver is emerging at CB and Tramaine Brock is a favorite of the coaching staff. Baalke could also try to bring in this years version of Rogers with another veteran who’s market drops. At OLB with Smith taking over one side, the team would be fine with Parys Haralson on the other.
And finally, the last part of my argument and probably the most important, money. When you count the money, the 49ers just will not be a big player in FA.
Cap Space: $30 million (projected)
Alex Smith: $9-12M/year 3-4 year deal
Dashon Goldson: $6-7M/year 4-5 year deal
Other FA’s likely to resign:
Blake Castanzo (ILB/ST): $1.5M/year/2 year deal
CJ Spillman (S/ST): $1.5M/year/2-3 year deal
Larry Grant (ILB/ST): $2.5M (2nd round tender amount)
Total Spent: $25.5-29.5M
This is a pretty conservative group of estimations in my opinion. It’s also incomplete, the 49ers will sign more players than listed above. I chose the players I feel will get re-signed by the team and left it at that. As you can see, with just five 49er free agents being re-signed, plus the rookies, the 49ers are very close to the limit. Yes the team could ask some players to restructure, Patrick Willis makes an unreal amount of money next year. But do you really want to ask Willis to take a pay cut? With tons of shifting around and players taking less money, a perfect off season storm.
Maybe the 49ers could figure out a magic way to get all their guys back AND sign some monster big name FA. If they do, I’ll jump out of my chair, freak out in excitement for a little while, get back in my chair and admit to you all I was wrong. But I’m pretty sure I won’t have to do that.
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