On Saturday, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees got hit with the team's franchise tag, indicating the Pro Bowl offensive guard Carl Nicks would hit the free-agent market. There has been much talk about what the San Francisco 49ers will do in free agency, with many citing their desperate needs at wide receiver and cornerback. However, it is being abundantly clear that it is Carl Nicks who is the perfect fit for San Francisco.
The 49ers rotated Chilo Rachal and Adam Snyder at right guard last season, with neither being able to take the reins at the position. The Niners have yet to re-sign either player and probably shouldn't with their lack of productivity. GM Trent Baalke will most likely look to address the need in free agency, as the team has spent a haul of premium draft picks on linemen in recent years with none truly panning out.
Nicks, at 26 years old, has plenty of quality football years and could anchor an offensive line that has had its ups and downs in recent years. Joe Staley, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis could use a veteran presence like Nicks to lead them in the trenches. Last year, the 49ers picked up former Saint Jonathan Goodwin to play center, and it was one of the key offseason moves for the team. Signing Nicks would reunite the pair that won a championship for New Orleans in 2009.
If they were to make the signing, they could easily move Iupati to the right guard slot to accommodate Nicks on the left side, where he has played his entire career. Baalke and head coach Jim Harbaugh know that by upgrading the offensive line they improve two facets of the game in pass protection and the run blocking. Shoring up the boys up front should be considered a major priority to the team, while they can address other position needs with their draft picks and lesser free-agent signings.
Carl Nicks was born in San Francisco and graduated from North Salinas High School, and although I don't expect him to give the team a hometown discount, he will surely consider the 49ers as a legitimate candidate for his services. He is widely considered one of the top five free agents this year and is said to be looking for a big-time payday.
Throwing big money at a proven commodity like Nicks is a safer investment than chasing a big-time receiver like Vincent Jackson or Mike Wallace while addressing just as an important of a need.