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2012 NFL Free Agents: Why San Francisco 49ers Must Sign Marques Colston

Ben TaylorContributor IIIMarch 5, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: Why San Francisco 49ers Must Sign Marques Colston

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    There is no team more in need of help at wide receiver than the San Francisco 49ers.

    As a team with one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Niners need an offensive presence that can help them put more points on the board.

    Fortunately, veteran New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston is an available free agent.

    Colston is the perfect blend of talent and experience that the 49ers need in a wideout to help take them to the next level. He knows how to excel in the NFL, and over his first six seasons in the league, he's proven he can do it on a consistent basis.

    Here are five reasons why the Niners must sign Colston to play for the Red and Gold.

End Zone Presence

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    First and foremost, San Francisco needs a wideout who can make the important catches in the end zone. 

    In his six seasons in the league, Marques Colston has averaged eight touchdown catches per year. The Red and Gold have not seen that kind of production from a wide receiver since Terrell Owens.

    By adding Colston to the mix, the 49ers would insert a key second option to complement Vernon Davis near the goal line. Opposing defenses would then have to scheme for those two, while also having to worry about Kendall Hunter and Frank Gore in the running attack.

    This four-headed monster would be difficult to stop.

    It is unlikely most defenses are going to be able to effectively cover both Colston and Davis at the same time as they try to cut down the runs of Gore and Hunter. They will have to choose between one or the other.

    In turn, this will open up holes that the Niners can exploit for touchdowns.

Consistency

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    Since 2006, Marques Colston has had only one year in which he had less than 1,000 yards receiving. Not surprisingly, that lone season is also the only one in which he did not play more than 14 games.

    This durability and consistent production are two assets the 49ers desperately need.

    Last season, Michael Crabtree was the only wide receiver to play in nearly all 16 regular season games. And even he was a very inconsistent performer.

    For example, against the New York Giants on November 13, Crabtree had one catch for 21 yards. Then, the very next week, he had seven catches for 120 yards, his only game of the season in which he gained over 100 yards.

    By contrast, Colston had four games in 2011-2012 in which he had over 100 yards receiving and only had one game in which he caught three or less passes. 

Size

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    One of the reasons Marques Colston is able to consistently catch the football is that he is a large target. At 6’4” and 225 pounds, the Hofstra product is an inch taller than Vernon Davis and is only 25 pounds lighter.

    In coverage, he is a handful for the average 5’10” to 5’11” safety or cornerback to deal with.

    Plus, his size gives him an advantage when blocking, an asset that shouldn't be overlooked, because in the Jim Harbaugh offense, wide receivers are asked to do that on a regular basis.

    Currently, the 49ers do not have such a presence on their receiving corp. In fact, they do not have a wideout on their roster that is taller than 6’1” or weighs more than 215 pounds.

    On passes in the end zone and 50-50 jump balls, this fact puts San Francisco at a major disadvantage. Defenses don't have to respect the passing attack, outside of Vernon Davis, and can almost entirely focus their efforts on stopping the run and harassing Alex Smith.

    Adding Colston would help lessen this problem.

First Downs and Big Plays

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    Besides an end zone presence, the 49ers have also lacked a wide receiver with big-play capabilities in recent years. They have not had the downfield presence that prevents defenses from consistently stacking the line of scrimmage and bringing extra pressure to the pocket.

    With Marques Colston, they would no longer have this problem.

    For his career, Colston has averaged 13.9 yards per pass completion and in each season, has made at least one catch for more than 45 yards.

    With No. 12 in the game, no defense can relax.

    He can burn teams for big yardage while also being more than capable of making the comfortable catch to move the chains.

    In a Niners offense that, for the most part, likes to patiently and incrementally move down the field, adding Colston as a threat is a must.

Playoff Experience

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    Outside of the tangible statistical benefits Marques Colston would provide for San Francisco, his signing would bring a strong presence to the Niners locker room.

    As a member of the Saints, he won a Super Bowl and also made it to the playoffs in four of his six seasons. For the 49ers, most of their players went to the playoffs for the first time in their careers this past season.

    This inexperience was especially evident on the receiving corp, as Vernon Davis was the only consistent producer in the divisional round and championship game.

    In order to be a Super Bowl contender, San Francisco needs to combine its young talent with a veteran playoff performer. When the defense comes up with a big play, the offense needs to know that there is someone in the huddle who it can rely on to show up.

    By signing Colston, the 49ers would add this piece.

    For a team built to win now, it is important that this facet of Colston not be overlooked as the 49ers try to grab their sixth Lombardi Trophy.   

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