The free agent group of safeties is beginnning to dwindle. There are a few options remaining which include aging veterans such as Charles Woodson and Ed Reed. There are also less expensive options such as Michael Huff, Kerry Rhodes or Quintin Mikell. Then there is Louis Delmas who has spent most of the today at 49ers headquarters. The void left by Dashon Goldson’s signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is likely to be filled by one of these free agents.
Louis Delmas is a very hard hitting safety that will fit in well with the physical mentality that the 49ers have on defense. He was a vocal leader in the Detroit Lions’ secondary when he played. He also brings a great amount of energy to the team.
A few years ago, Delmas was considered one of the better young safeties in the game. Unfortunately, he did miss five starts in the 2011 season and he missed eight starts last year. The injury history is the only reason for concern when it comes to Delmas, who had 94 tackles, eight passes defender and two interceptions including a 101 yard interception return for a touchdown during his rookie season in 2009. His only other interception came last year.
Charles Woodson and Ed Reed are both aging players that have a limited number of seaons left in their careers. Signing them would be a temporary issue that will need to be paired with drafting a safety to take over in a year or two. Delmas is only 25 years old and has upside. He has been stuck on some bad defenses and is very capable of producing a breakout season as a member of the 49ers elite defense. Signing him to a four or five year deal at this point would be a bargain.
The way the NFL has eveolved to a passing league has placed a premium on the safety position. Additionally, signing Delmas will give the 49ers a bit more flexibility when it comes to the draft. They will not be obligated to draft a safety in the first or second round unlike if they signed Ed Reed or Woodson. Many want to focus on the games that Delmas missed last year but it should also be pointed out that Woodson missed several weeks last season and is 11 years older than Delmas.
Delmas gives the 49ers an oportunity to have lockup a player that is entering the prime of his career, but is a relative risk due his injury concern. That risk will drive down the cost.
The 49ers will still need to draft a safety because Donte Whitner’s contract expires next year. They will not need to draft that safety in the first couple of rounds. A safety like Shamarko Thomas is the perfect player to bring in and take over for Whitner when he moves on. Thomas will contribute immediately on special teams. A good insurance option in case Delmas gets injured would be Duke Williams from Nevada, a safety that can cover the slot.
The free agency period has hit full stride. Charles Woodson’s agent has said that there is an interest in signing with the 49ers but they have not talked about any contract details. Ed Reed was flown to Houston by way of a private jet which is owned by Bob McNair. The owner of a franchise usually doesn’t take these extremes if they don’t have full intentions of signing their player.
The table is set for what would be a good fit for both Louis Delmas and the San Francisco 49ers.