2012 NFL Free Agents: 4 Wide Receivers San Francisco 49ers Should Target
Every San Francisco 49ers fan is demanding that their team pursue a talented wide receiver in the 2012 free agent market.
With Vincent Jackson, Mike Wallace, Dwayne Bowe, Steve Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Wes Welker and Marques Colston all on the free agent list, it seems likely that 49ers will go after a difference-maker.
However, now that Bowe, Johnson, Welker and D. Jackson have all negotiated deals with their 2011 clubs, there will be a huge price to pay for the two remaining elite free agent receivers (V. Jackson and Wallace).
San Francisco has the resources necessary to bring in one of these guys but should pass on the opportunity.
The 49ers are a run-first team that relies on milking the clock rather than scoring quickly. For this reason, it would be absurd for San Francisco to waste money on a position that is not prominently featured in their offense.
If they are going to go after a top-tier player in free agency, it would make much more sense for them to target Carl Nicks, an All-Pro guard who would be a huge upgrade over Adam Snyder.
While getting Wallace or V. Jackson would be exciting for the fans, San Francisco should avoid unnecessary bidding wars. Instead, they should opt to pursue some of the under-the-radar free agents.
Chaz Schilens #81
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In his four seasons in the league with the Oakland Raiders, Chaz Schilens has remained healthy for an entire season only once.
Schilens will have to beg for a contract considering his injury history and lack of opportunities (he averages 18 receptions per season).
At 6'4" and 225 pounds, Schilens is a big receiver with effective deep speed. He does not have the explosiveness to turn short completions into long gains, but he is an above average route runner with reliable hands.
Easily the least attractive option on this slide show, but one that could play a key role in San Francisco's otherwise anemic red zone offense.
Laurent Robinson #81
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Laurent Robinson was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys last season to add depth behind the injury-prone Dez Bryant and Miles Austin.
He expected to play a small role in the offense but ended the season as the Cowboys leader in touchdown receptions with 11.
Considering 2011 was his fist statistically significant season since being drafted in 2007, NFL teams will be concerned whether he can repeat his success in a new city.
Robinson was able to be productive despite sharing touches with Bryant, Austin and Jason Witten. He relied on his smooth route-running to separate from corners. His ability to consistently beat coverage quickly made him one of Tony Romo's favorite targets.
He is not the flashiest receiver, but his ability to get open is something that the 49ers desperately need. Signing Robinson will enable Alex Smith to get rid of the ball earlier, which will in turn make the offensive line look better.
Robert Meachem #17
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The New Orleans Saints picked Robert Meachem in the first round of the 2007 draft. He was supposed to team up with Marques Colston to form a dangerous receiver duo, but things never panned out.
Whether it was the knee injury that forced him to miss his entire rookie season, the Saints' spread the wealth aerial attack or a complete over estimation of his talents, Meachem has been a huge disappointment.
While he has flashed his first-round talent throughout his career, Meachem has yet to establish himself as a consistent go-to target.
Jim Harbaugh showed that he will not avoid picking up first-round busts in free agency. Last offseason he put his trust in Carlos Rogers (a 2005 first-rounder) to be the team's No. 1 cornerback. Harbaugh was rewarded with a Pro Bowl performance.
Considering that Meachem will not get much attention in the free agent market, the 49ers should sign him to a short cheap contract and hope that he blossoms under a new system.
Plaxico Burress #17
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Burress was an effective red zone target for Mark Sanchez and the Jets' offense. Even though he is not the same player he was before his arrest, Burress managed to haul in a respectable eight touchdown passes (four short of a career high).
Last offseason the 49ers pursued Burress before signing Braylon Edwards. Clearly they were looking for a big-bodied jump ball threat, a reputation Edwards was unable to uphold before being released midseason.
Burress is an attractive option for Jim Harbaugh because he will come at a relatively low cost and will be the red zone target Edwards was not.
There were numerous instances last season where Alex Smith's stats suffered as a result of Edwards inability to catch passes and run routes. If Burress is able to do what Edwards could not, he will elevate the play of Smith and the entire 49ers offense.