The San Francisco 49ers are well positioned going into the 2013 campaign. Of the defensive starters, NT Isaac Sopoaga and FS Dashon Goldson are the only free agents. On the offensive side of the ball, Randy Moss is the sole free agent. What should they do with their existing players?
Sign or franchise Goldson and Sopoaga. Nose Tackles aren’t easy to find, especially for a 3-4 defense, and Sopoaga anchored one of the best defensive lines, front sevens, and overall defenses in the league. Goldson is younger and a more attractive player to grant a longer-term contract. He didn’t generate the turnovers he did last year, but those come and go. However, Goldson continued to hit hard and cover well and the turnovers will come.
Randy Moss never struck me as a player with heart, especially after watching him play with the Raiders. Nothing I saw this year changed that. Randy Moss has no heart, played to not get hurt, and often let the team down on the field. We’ve all read he was an inspiration in the clubhouse, if true and he’s happy being a 4th WR, then sure, sign him.
Of the non-starters, Ted Ginn is the most important piece to resign. Field position is a crucial, if often overlooked, aspect of winning football games and Ginn is among the better PRs in the league. Heck, he even lowered his shoulder in the Super Bowl! Granted it was against the punter, but his effort contributed to the momentum of the moment and, honestly, it wouldn’t be the first time Ginn ran out of bounds instead of taking on the punter.
That leaves back-ups, special team players, and Delanie Walker. To me, Walker is a polarizing player. He gets a lot of snaps at TE, RB, and WR, but has, at best, mediocre hands and little YAC ability. He’s billed as a match-up nightmare, but it seems to me that Aaron Hernandez or Marcel Reese create far more positive plays than Walker. What is the point of having a poor man’s Hernandez?
Aside from signing key players already on the roster, what are the San Francisco 49ers’ free agent needs for the 2013 campaign? Sign a place kicker. Healthy or not, Ackers lost his untouchable status this year. Drafting a PK is an option, but with Super Bowl or Bust aspirations, a rookie PK might not be the best choice. Bring in a CB or two, ideally proven free agents, to push starters Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown, perhaps replace Chris Culliver, and provide depth when teams spread the defense out in an attempt to pull ILB Bowman or Willis off the field.
It isn’t easy to get to the Super Bowl in back-to-back years, but if the Forty Niners biggest off-season question is who gets the franchise tag; and the biggest free agent need is a place kicker; then they’re in good shape. Next column I will detail how to best approach the draft.