Given the fact that the 49ers aren’t serious about the Peyton Manning hope-fest, or the Matt Flynn sweepstakes, and their more-than-likely scenario of sticking with Alex Smith, what are the biggest needs for this team going forward? We (well, most of us) get the fact that the 49ers need some help at the WR spot. The little production they were getting was hindered by Cap’t. Morgan going down in the TB game, the on-again off-again nature of Michael Crabtree’s contributions, and the lack of fire (and healing powers) of Braylon Edwards. The rest were barely noticeable on the field. In fact, Smith did a pretty good job of moving the ball through the air with VD being pretty much his only consistent target.
Be that as it may, the Niners have to look at the possibility of losing some of their myriad free agents. The most important being Ahmad Brooks, Dashon Goldson, Ted Ginn, Adam Snyder, and Carlos Rogers. To a lesser extent, there are guys like Larry Grant (who filled in very well when Willis went down), Joshua Morgan, and special teams stand outs Blake Costanzo and CJ Spillman.
As I’ve said before, I think Dashon Goldson may get priced off of the team by a bigger offer from someone else (Dallas is likely). I don’t think they’ll franchise him either. The Niners would be well-advised to franchise Ahmad Brooks. He played his best year by far in the pros, but he has been dogged by inconsistency, so it warrants giving him a fat one-year payday to see if he can follow it up with another good year. The rest shouldn’t be too hard to sign. Alex Smith being the guy that gets the most money. 3/$20 mill? Sure, why not? Sign Morgan as well. There looks to be a whole new crop of WRs, so having Morgan and Crabs around would help some, for consistency’s sake. Morgan was on his way to a good year when he went down.
So, losing Goldson would leave a hole. The easy solution would be to do what they planned on all a long, and move Chris Culliver to FS. Culliver has shown he can cover very well as a CB, and would be well-suited to playing off the ball as a FS. Goldson was pretty much a SS in the FS spot anyway, and with Whitner signed, there’s no room for Hawk. There are also some strong FS free agents out there as well. Michael Griffin from the Titans would be worth a look, as would Dwight Lowry from the Jags. Both are young and solid. Brooks is the big question. Yeah, the 49ers revived his career, and he worked hard to crack the line up and stay there. I just wonder if he’ll balk at being franchised.
Which brings us to Ted Ginn. I sure didn’t think his injury would be the one that broke the team’s epic run, but there you go. The NFL is a harsh mistress. His WR adventures aside, Ginn proved that he was one of the best in the league at returning punts and kickoffs. He got off to a brilliant start by scoring the double-whammy on opening day Seattle game with a PR and KR for TDs. Beyond that, he unfailingly made the right decisions in when to go after balls, and when to back away. The 49ers ALWAYS had better field position due to his returns. So, just based on that, yeah, I’d get him back.
Carlos Rogers really was the key to this year’s sudden success. He set the tone early by picking off a lot of balls, and making a ton of plays. The overall defensive philosophy of giving up yards, but not points was greatly helped out by the punishing and ball-hawking nature of these defensive backs. Led by Rogers. I have no idea what he wants, but he won’t be cheap. But, sign him. Adam Snyder? He has proven to be very versatile, and solid, if not spectacular, when they move him around the line. Like Ginn, he shouldn’t be too hard to sign.