Every season brings change. That’s why there is very little carryover from one year to the next. An NFL roster sheds some players in the offseason, adds others through free agency and the draft and then develops a new personality.
Sort of like a personnel rebirth.
Looking over the 2011 roster of the San Francisco 49ers, there are areas they want to improve. What seems clear is that there won’t be an identity change. This is still a defense-first organization whose offense needs improvement.
It remains to be seen if free agents like Ahmad Brooks and Carlos Rogers re-sign with the team; the former will draw more attention than the latter.
It’s just the way outside linebackers are valued. At the same time, defensive players are harder to assess in terms of impact.
In the 49ers scheme, team is everything. It’s difficult to say Brooks will leave for, say, the Bengals and give them first-rate play.
It's still a question if Brooks will leave (or will be offered so much money to leave he can’t turn it down). He’s a so-so proposition to be around come the opening of training camp (I believe he will).
But here are eight players who most likely be gone come mid-July.
The 11-year vet out of Kansas provided protection for Frank Gore. But injuries and the emergence of rookie Bruce Miller will spell the end of Norris (44).
He’s played for four teams in his career and had the same role in each: Open the hole.
The nine-year vet out of Pittsburgh was the Niners second-round pick in ’04 and he played well overall.
But, he was on the active roster only nine times and had no starts. Tarell Davis, Tramaine Brock and Reggie Smith all had spots in front of Spencer, who isn’t quick enough to run with the best wideouts and isn’t big enough to move inside to safety.
The rookie wide receiver out of Washburn isn’t big (6’) nor exceptionally fast.
It’s hard to figure where he could fit in in light of the team’s needs for a big-play receiver as well as someone who can back up Ted Ginn Jr. or Joshua Morgan.
The four-year vet out of USC should draw plenty of attention.
He’s a proven starter who found himself with limited time behind Adam Snyder at right guard. A team like the Rams should offer him a healthy raise to help transform its weak offensive line.
The four-year vet out of Oklahoma did well as a backup to Goldson, but the additions of Madieu Williams and Donte Whitner puts Smith’s roster spot in question.
The emergence of rookie Colin Jones out of TCU means another body for that spot, plus Jones’ special teams play has been first-rate.
That Brett Swain, the former backup in Green Bay, ended up starting a game for the 49ers showed how desperate they were at the wide receiver position.
He played in five games, but I expect big moves here in the offseason. The Niners may draft two receivers and sign a free agent, and if a player like Coby Fleener of Stanford is around in the second round, I think the Niners would make a big play to get him.
That means less and less chances for Swain.
The same that was said about Swain could be applied to Williams. What Williams does have is good speed and he was close to breaking some returns for big plays.
That’s to his advantage.
No one knows how serious Ginn’s knee injury is, but then no one’s saying things like "Physically Unable to Perform" (PUP) list or long rehab.
The four-year player out of Ohio State started three games in place of Patrick Willis and he did well to catch the attention of other personnel directors. Fast and heady but a little light (235 lbs), he’s a good search-and-destroy man in the middle.
He’s a restricted free agent, so the Niners have the chance to match any offer. But watch out for someone like the Giants making him an offer he can’t refuse. (Their defensive line is superb yet the NYG linebackers weren’t so good against the run, hence the attraction.)