49ers Way Too Early 2012 Free Agent Outlook
By Matt Hamm
As the 49ers prepare to take the field Sunday against the Cleveland Browns coming off a bye week I thought let’s take a look ahead at the 49ers current 2012 free agent outlook. The team has 21 players currently on its 53 man roster with contracts set to expire at the end of the season. It would be 22 players but the team signed running back Frank Gore to a 3 year extension during training camp. There is also mutual interest in a new deal for corner back Carlos Rogers who stated he has given his agent permission to negotiate an extension with the team and would like to sign a deal for 5-6 more seasons.
The organization usually doesn’t open up to the media especially about their strategic direction. The team brass did shed some insight into their views on extending players contracts during the season. Jed York had this to say:
"“There are guys that we’ve extended. Obviously Frank (Gore) is one of those guys that we extended, so it’s not out of the question. But that’s something that Jim and Trent will discuss and figure out.”"
PAGE 2: WHAT JIM HARBAUGH HAS TO SAY ON THE SUBJECT AND THE COMPLETE LIST OF 49ER 2012 FREE AGENTS AND MY PREDICTIONS ON THEIR FUTURES WITH THE 49ERS
It looks like the 49ers are in fact being pro active in their approach to free agency in 2012 and it should come as no surprise. With bargain free agent signings like Braylon Edwards, Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson to name a few the team has a lot of talent coming off the books next season. The vibe in San Francisco is good right now, based on general manager Trent Baalke’s draft and the great job he did in free agency I trust that he and Jim Harbaugh have properly identified the players they should extend and now’s the best time to do it.
The saying in free agency is the longer you wait the more you’re going to pay for the player. The reality of it is a player wants his money now no matter when you’re talking about because of the high risk of injury in the NFL. If you allow a player to make it through a productive season healthy in a contract year you’re inviting a competition for his services and risk losing the player. I expect the team to extend a handful of players if not more during the season for 2 reasons. One like I mentioned above it gets more expensive the longer you wait and I believe the 49ers know they have some good players they need to keep around. The other is the fact that the free agency market isn’t going to have as many good players as this offseason did. With the old collective bargaining agreement expiring teams didn’t extend many contracts in the last couple years of the deal worried about overspending on a contract they might not have to pay based on the pending new deal. That’s not the case this off season and the 49ers have a good team, and I expect them to reward a few guys now rather than risk losing them.
2012 49er Free Agents and my predictions-Additional Harbaugh comments below:
CB Tramaine Brock (EFA), OT Alex Boone, DT Will Tukuafu-All 3 of the team’s exclusive rights free agents will be signed after the season. All young players with lots of potential. Look for the team to wait and see how they play the year out and decide how long to sign them for.
DB C.J. Spillman (RFA)- Spillman fits into the same category as the EFAs. He won’t be offered anything of significance from another team and will sign for a 1 year deal.
WR Joshua Morgan-Jim Harbaugh has already expressed he wants JM back, with Morgan’s injury that shouldn’t be expensive or difficult to do.
LB Ahmad Brooks-Has emerged as teams #1 OLB until Aldon Smith moves there anyway, he’ll get a 3-4 year deal
LB Blake Costanzo-Special Teams ace, history with Brad Seely, this guy is so good on ST he’s going into the Andy Lee, Brian Jennings territory. Expect him to stick around a while.
WR Braylon Edwards-The 2nd biggest wildcard, with his injury this year Edwards is going to have to produce if he wants big money from SF. I expect him to enter free agency and go to the highest bidder this is a tossup but I see him coming back on a 4 year deal.
WR Ted Ginn Jr.-restructured his 3 year deal to a 1 year deal to stay in SF. Has had a great year returning the ball. The question is does the team want to leave a veteran in his spot or do they look to develop Kyle Williams. If Ginn continues to play the way he has the team will have to bring him back for a 1-2 year deal. Still I expect to see him depart and go to a team like the Redskins who will overpay.
TE Justin Peelle-Nate Bynam will be returning and a TE could easily be drafted. Peelle won’t be brought back
S Dashon Goldson-I may be in the minority here but I think Goldson learned his lesson and will take a deal right around the 5 year $20 something million they offered him early in free agency this offseason.
LB Tavares Gooden-His injury history and unfulfilled potential will get him replaced by a draft pick.
LB Larry Grant (RFA)-see CJ Spillman
RG Chilo Rachal-Inconsistent play and a Mike Singletary pick….I guess we’ll see you in Seattle soon Chilo
CB Carlos Rogers-will sign a 4 year deal that may look like a 6 year deal on paper in the next month or so.
FB Moran Norris-Will be surpassed by Bruce Miller and cut during the 2011 season and out of football in 2012.
S Reggie Smith-This depends on if a team thinks Smith can be a starter for them. Smith doesn’t have a starting role in SF and will bolt for one if the opportunity is available. Even if it’s not he may want a fresh opportunity elsewhere. I see Reggie taking his talents somewhere else in the NFL next year.
OL Adam Snyder-Versatile Offensive Lineman that can play all 5 spots on the field. I thought for sure David Baas would come back to the 49ers and would never get paid huge money elsewhere. I see the same thing happening here and Snyder signing for twice his worth elsewhere.
WR Brett Swain-Emergency 2012 signing that may not last the entire season, he’s gone.
S Madieu Williams-Draft pick replaces this veteran easily
I had to wait for this one QB Alex Smith-The biggest wildcard of them all! Alex has played very well this season managing Jim Harbaugh’s offense and winning games. He’s protected the football and lead big comebacks on the road vs. very good football teams. Still he isn’t a top flight QB (yet?) and the 49ers have young talented but raw Colin Kaepernick waiting in the wings. For the first time in Smith’s career you can see a trust between him and his head coach. Kaepernick is raw, sitting and watching for 2 even 3 or 4 years won’t hurt, after all he is signed for 5 years. And I just don’t see Smith leaving after his first successful season in the NFL, he chose to comeback this season right? And I also don’t see a huge bidding war for Smith, while there would be a market I just can’t imagine some team shelling out a ton of money to lure Alex Smith in as their franchise QB. Add that all together and I think Smith will sign a 2-3 year deal with the team worth $6-9 million per season.
Harbaugh was vague as always but did offer the fact that he does like to plan ahead and looks to the future.
"“Personally speaking now, this is just me talking, tha’s where I choose to live, is in the future,” Harbaugh said “Plan, save, prepare, work, to make a better future. That’s where the wheels are turning in guys’ minds. I know they are in mine. I think it’s a positive thing.” Harbaugh said"
RFA (restricted free agent) -Player can negotiate with other clubs, but original team owns right of first refusal and team would receive draft-pick compensation if it decides not to match offer. Team is given 7 days to decide whether or not to match the offer.
EFA (Exclusive rights free agent) -Team owns rights to player, and player is not allowed to negotiate with other teams, unless team renounces his rights.
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