As the San Francisco 49ers begin restructuring their roster, they will need to first decide which of their own players will be rewarded contract extensions. Several key players are set to become unrestricted free-agents when free-agency begins on March 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm, including FS Dashon Goldson, NT Isaac Sopoaga, ILB Tavares Gooden, ILB Larry Grant, DE Ricky Jean-Francois, CB Tramaine Brock, FS Darcel McBath, TE Delanie Walker, WR Ted Ginn Jr., WR Randy Moss, and G Leonard Davis. And although many of these players will not be retained, core players like Goldson and Walker should be the exception.
However, with a quality player like Sopoaga, should the 49ers reward him? Only if the price is right! I’m a true believe in building a defense from the inside out, and with the 49ers running a 3-4, makes that philosophy all the more important. With that said, I don’t believe the 49ers should re-sign “Soap” if he commands top dollar.
First of all, although Soap is ideal for a 3-4 defense, there are other alternatives out there such as Maake Kemoeatu (Ravens), Randy Starks (Dolphins), Casey Hampton (Steelers), Aubrayo Franklin (Chargers), and Alan Branch (Seahawks) that will be just as capable of filling his shoes. In addition, should the 49ers decide to pass on these free-agents, the draft provides another great resource to fill Soap’s departure.
This year’s NFL draft class for defensive lineman is one of the deepest at the position in years. I have been mocking drafts for seven years now, and to see the amount of good players at the defensive line position is encouraging. I have a total of 13 defensive lineman projected to go in the first-round. That’s depth! Some players whom the 49ers may want to consider toward the end of round 1 include John Jenkins (Georgia), Johnthan Hankins (Ohio St.), and Kwame Geathers (Georgia). All of those players are good enough to hold the point of attack and command double teams.
In a perfect world, I think it is safe to say that we would all want Sopoaga back in the red and gold. But this is not a perfect world, and with other top priorities on the 49ers wish list, such as re-signing Dashon Goldson, will more than likely make Soap another cap casualty.