Let’s take a break from the whole Peyton Manning, Alex Smith, 49ers quarterback talk for a minute. After the QB situation is settled with the recent signing of receiver Mario Manningham, it’s assumed that would be it for the 49ers until the draft. Seeing how screwed the Niners from office has been in the last two offseasons I think they find a way to make a couple more small moves to improve the depth and possibly get a little more room under the cap.
Before I break down the moves I think would make sense before the draft for the 49ers. I want to take a brief look at what has been another perfectly orchestrated offseason by the 49ers brass.
Keeping the defense intact: Niner Faithful you know how valuable and important this was. Second rated defense with the best rush D in the NFL. And we kept 100% of it intact. Dashon Goldson will most likely be negotiating his long term deal after the QB situation is figured out. Carlos Rogers is back on a very nice deal that is extremely cap friendly. And Ahmad Brooks’ deal is very cap friendly as well. With so many young players including Aldon Smith expected to improve next year, this defense will be scary for a long time.
Randy Moss signing considering the Mario Manningham signing: With almost all the wide receivers disappearing from the market and the fading hope that Mike Wallace would be obtained (due to the money the team theoretically has to hold over for Manning) it appeared Moss would be the lone WR signing. And that’s a scary thought given his track record. I was hesitant but excited when we got Moss, a little worried about the locker room, but overall okay with it considering no guaranteed money and only a 1 year deal.
Now with the signing of Mario Manningham, this is a perfect deal for many reasons. It pushes Michael Crabtree, in recent years, Crabtree knew he was far and wide the best WR on the 49ers roster. He could stroll in and take a starting spot right off the street after a holdout his rookie year and miss camp the next with a new head coach and still be the #1 guy. Not anymore Crabs! Competition breeds success and this is a perfect move. Now Moss cannot walk onto this team either and think he’s going to just take a spot. With Crabtree and Manningham, he has two younger players who both make more money and offer a brighter future for the 49ers. He’s going to need to bring it everyday to prove he deserves to play. This also makes me love the Manningham signing even more. I’ve always really like Mario as a player. I firmly believe if Victor Cruz hadn’t became a superstar out of nowhere, Mario would have stepped up in a big way for the Giants this year. He showed some fortitude signing with SF over a team like the Rams. He two will have to prove he belongs on the field with the other wideouts lurking. Suddenly a weak and thin group of receivers, looks deep and intriguing with possibilities. And we haven’t even had the draft yet!
Letting Blake Costanzo go while losing nothing on Special Teams: The team already re-signed CJ Spillman there other ST star. Costanzo is not a guy you can rely on whatsoever at inside linebacker. He is a ST player 100% and it would be a serious problem if he had to play ILB due to injury. With only a 53 man roster, 45 active, the 49ers apparently have made the decision to keep only players with the ability to contribute on either offense or defense. The signing of former Raiders running back Rock Cartwright was the perfect replacement. Not only is Cartwright a stellar ST player on the coverage units like Costanzo. He can return kicks and is a big pounding back that should give Anthony Dixon some stiff competition for the #3 RB job. Cartwright can also serve as a backup to Brad Miller at fullback.
Extending CJ Spillman for 3 years: Along with Costanzo, Spillman was our best special teams player on one of the if not the best units in the NFL last year. He’s a young, fast, emerging safety that is expected to take Reggie Smith’s place as our #3 safety and is someone the franchise believes could eventually be a starter. A three year, reasonable, cheap deal for a team player like Spillman is the type of move champions make.
Check back tomorrow for Part II where I’ll examine the remaining moves that make sense for the 49ers to make.
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