With the NFL free-agency period set to begin March 12 at 4:00 pm, many teams find themselves scrambling to re-sign their own free-agents or seek other alternatives. Every team whether above or below the salary cap, will need to determine which players they wish to franchise, transition, or release. Take for example, two-time Pro Bowl FS Dashon Goldson. The seven-year veteran is seeking a long-term deal in which the Niners have reluctantly obliged to invest. Furthermore, whether the 49ers decide to keep Goldson, they have 12 other free-agents set to hit the open-market, including G Leornard Davis, WR Ted Ginn Jr., WR Randy Moss, TE Delanie Walker, NT Isaac Sopoaga, DE Ricky Jean-Francois, LB Tavares Gooden, LB Larry Grant, LB Eric Bakhtiari, LB Clark Haggans, CB Tramaine Brock, and S Darcel McBath.
In addition to deciding the fate of their own players, GM Trent Baalke will need to find a common ground between which players to keep and which players to target. As numerous players hit the free-agent pool, I have identified five players the 49ers should target based on need, skill-set, and production.
1. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie- The player known as DRC, is by far my most coveted player of the litter. I have been pushing for DRC since the season ended, as I believe he would be a huge upgrade as both a cover corner and special teams standout. Also DRC has all the intangibles you look for in a corner, including speed, size, and athleticism. No disrespect to current 49ers CB’s Carlos Rogers, Chris Culliver, or Tarell Brown, but DRC brings another dimension to the team, which is sub 4.3 speed. DRC has the ability to play press coverage, while having the speed to mirror receivers on a consistent basis, evident by 84 pass break-ups in five seasons. A true H-W-S (Height-Weight-Speed) specimen, DRC should be ranked first on Baalke’s priority list.
2. FS Charles Woodson- The Future Hall of Fame defensive back, Woodson now finds himself on the unemployment list. A true leader, Woodson would be an ideal fit for the San Francisco 49ers. He would bring leadership, physicality, and stability to a shaky secondary. He may not have the elite speed he once possessed coming out of Michigan, but make no mistake he more than makes up for it with his heady play. The addition of Woodson would more than likely signal the end of Dashon Goldson, a move that would be bittersweet to the 49ers fan base.
3. WR/KR Josh Cribbs- With WR Ted Ginn Jr. all but gone from San Francisco, the 49ers will need to find his viable replacement via free-agency, and Cribbs fits in perfectly. A former Pro Bowl return specialist, Cribbs has elite speed and can turn around a game in a blink of an eye. Although he does not possess the threat as a wide receiver, Cribbs will more than likely provide the Niners with great field position, while helping the offense generate some early points.
4. DE/OLB Paul Kruger- I absolutely love this guy and predicted he would have a monster game in the Super Bowl when I was interviewed on FanSided Radio’s John Ackeren show. He has the ideal height, weight, and speed for a 3-4 outside linebacker and would be a missing piece as a pass-rush specialist. We all know Aldon Smith had a career season with 19.5 sacks, but at some point someone else needs to take the pressure off the other side. And that’s where Kruger comes into play. He would provide both depth and a skill-set that no current outside linebacker on the 49ers roster can provide.
5. NT Alan Branch- I loved Branch as a NT coming out of Michigan, because he is big, strong, and athletic. Now entering his seventh season, Branch is again on the open-market, and will be looking for potential suitors. Throughout Branch’s career he has remained in the NFC West, first the Arizona Cardinals then the Seattle Seahawks. So with NFC West teams on his short list, I have him nabbed to go to San Francisco as his next destination. If we have Branch, I believe he would provide a huge upgrade along the defensive line and also add a fountain of youth to the position. He is not a pass rusher but big enough to push the pocket allowing his teammates to clean up the work.
What are your thoughts on who we should pick up or what positions we should target? Please comment below.