5 San Francisco 49ers Who Could Be on the Chopping Block This Offseason

Ted JohnsonAnalyst IFebruary 7, 2012

5 San Francisco 49ers Who Could Be on the Chopping Block This Offseason

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    No NFL team stays the same from season to season. It’s not the nature of the business. Players retire, others realize that they might have a better chance of playing for another team and thus leave via free agency and others find themselves replaced by draft picks or trades.


    That’s how it goes in the NFL, and the 49ers are no different. As general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh look over the roster, they must consider who stays and who goes. Some may be trades, and some may be low-ball bids on free agent contracts. But the changing will start soon, and here are five players who might find themselves in different colors come September.

Shawntae Spencer

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    Spencer appears headed out the door. Injured in training camp and thus behind from the start, Spencer seems done as a 49er. He’s going into his ninth year, and it’s been a while since he was considered the Niners' best cover man. But it was a fact; he was.

    He won’t be traded due to the fact that other teams see him as dead wood. Most likely, he’ll be picked up when he’s released.

Anthony Dixon

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    The second-year running back out of Mississippi State showed OK signs of being an able backup, but then, he didn’t stand out either. With Frank Gore handling inside running and providing good pass protection, he’s better than Dixon in both areas.

    Rookie Kendall Hunter, though smaller, is faster and a bigger threat. That makes Dixon vulnerable, especially on a team that is looking for more quick-strike capability.

    Dixon is 240 pounds but has averaged only 3.3 yards in 99 carries in two regular seasons. It’s hard to imagine the coaching staff has fallen in love with him. Capable as a backup, yes, but not locked into a roster slot.

Chilo Rachal

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    The four-year vet who was the starting right guard in 2010 and began there in 2011 finds himself behind Adam Snyder, who might find himself competing for the starting spot when OTAs start in the spring.

    The Niners figure to look long and hard at that position to improve their running game, and it remains to be seen if free agency is the answer (Carl Nicks of the Saints anyone?) or if they’ll try to find a starter through the draft. Also, the Niners have rookie Daniel Kilgore, the 308-pounder out of Appalachian State.

    Either way, Rachal, who can play tackle in a pinch, could be used by the 49ers as a bargaining chip for a higher selection in the draft.

Justin Peelle

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    The 10-year tight end out of Oregon ended up playing a great deal in the end due to the injury to Delanie Walker. Though he is a decent blocker, Peelle doesn’t possess the speed like that of Walker or Vernon Davis, and thus he is vulnerable.

    Also, in light of how much Harbaugh loves tight ends, if someone like Stanford's Coby Fleener is around in the second round don't be surprised if the Niners make major moves to get him.

    The Niners had to put Nate Bynum on injured reserve during training camp, ending his season. Bynum’s return plus the secured spots for Walker and Davis leave Peelle as the odd man out.

Kyle Williams

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    Williams provided the Niners with decent backup help at receiver and kick returner, but he wasn’t big enough to fight off press coverage from elite cornerbacks, making it difficult for him to get open.

    At the same time, Ted Ginn Jr., when healthy, is a tad faster and a greater threat on kick returns. Joshua Morgan, injured in October, caught the coaching staff’s attention. He has been declared a priority in terms of signing. That is, if he’s healthy.

    Also, it’s known that the Niners need to add a receiver who has big-play capability, and they’ll go through the draft looking for that capability. In the end, that means Williams, whose mistakes in the NFC Championship Game cost the 49ers dearly, may not end up with a roster slot.

    It may be for the best.