As I pointed out in an earlier offseason column, 49er fans should prepare for one big reality. This offseason will be like the last and won’t excite you at first. The niners are not going to go out and get a big fish like Mario Williams or Vincent Jackson in free agency. The team would be very lucky to retain all of its own key free agents. Quarterback Alex Smith is a definite to come back. Dashon Goldson and Carlos Rogers are the teams next biggest priorities.
So where does that leave Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks? On another roster most likely.
Brooks is the odd man out for a couple reasons. The team already has his replacement in Aldon Smith on the roster is one. The other is the market. Brooks falls in line with a few other OLBs in the second tier after super Mario. The teams that don’t go all out for Mario will likely call on Brooks early in the FA period. I expect Brooks to get a deal larger than the one the 49ers gave Ray McDonald last year of 5 years $20 million. The 49ers will make an offer, but they won’t get into a bidding war considering they have other needs to address.
The team also needs to add a veteran FA at the wide receiver position badly. They won’t get a Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston or Dwayne Bowe but they will end up with a Plaxico Burres or some other 2nd tier WR type. And that’s more money spent against the cap, less the team can shell out to Brooks.
The biggest reason is value and I firmly believe the 49ers like Brooks, but do not see him as a player worth a huge contract. Brooks is a nice player and I’d love for the market to set and for him to slip through the cracks and back to SF. But that isn’t likely to happen unless he pulls a Goldson and demands way too much. But none of this is likely to happen. Brooks will get an offer from SF during the combine and will test the market. He will receive an offer that blows the niners offer out of the water and Trent Baalke will step away from the table. He’ll slot Smith in at OLB and draft a pass rusher somewhere to fill Aldons old role. He might even sign a Andre Carter type to fill the role. But he won’t overspend, and he will make the right decision. And I think that’s going to be letting Brooks walk. What 49er fans need to realize is when this type of decision goes down this year. Don’t freak out, trust in Baalke, he’s earned it.