Report Card Grades for Every San Francisco 49ers Free Agent Acquisition so Far
Four weeks in the 2012 NFL season, and just like that, a quarter of the league-year has elapsed.
The San Francisco 49ers (3-1) have a .750 winning percentage right now, which is good enough to have them near the top of the league. Coach Jim Harbaugh is no doubt proud of his men, but understands there is still tons of work to be done.
The team looked exceptional in three of their four outings in 2012, but laid an egg in one of them. The 49ers won convincingly in Weeks 1 and 2 against two highly respected playoff teams from last year, in Green Bay and Detroit.
To the fans' surprise, the product on the field this year is not too different from 2011's personnel. Despite some offseason additions, the San Francisco 49ers have been winning these games with much of last year's roster. Ask any 49er fan, and they'll agree that it's been the Vernon Davis and Frank Gore show.
The Niners also returned all 11 of their starters on defense.
Here, we'll discuss San Francisco's offseason acquisitions and assign each a letter grade to this point. Continue through the following slides for the list, as you may be surprised who earns the highest grade.
Mario Manningham, WR
The 49ers were in desperate need of wide receiver help this offseason, and turned to free agency looking for value. San Francisco was able to ink former Giants wide receiver and Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham.
In four games, Manningham has accumulated 200-plus all-purpose yards for the 49ers. He's had 2 rushes for 57 total yards and 15 catches for 160 receiving yards. He is currently averaging 12.7 yards per touch for the Niners, even though he hasn't been one of the noisier receivers so far in 2012.
Manningham has seen the most field time out of the Niners' free agent acquisitions this year. He is also one of only a couple FA signings that is signed beyond the 2012-13 season. If Manningham can grow within this offense and establish a better rapport with starting quarterback Alex Smith, he could potentially earn a new contract.
At the moment, however, Smith and Manningham don't seem to be clicking so well. Their QB-WR relationship hasn't exactly flourished, but the 49ers are a run-first team after all. For what he's been asked to do so far, Manningham has been a nice addition to the team.
Brandon Jacobs, RB
Brandon Jacobs was signed after parting ways with the New York Giants. His arrival was more intriguing than anything, and when he hit the ground running in preseason, that interest turned to excitement. Unfortunately Jacobs sustained a knee injury during exhibition play against the Minnesota Vikings.
The high-torque running back has been sidelined ever since, but it did not stop him from making the final 53-man roster.
Jacobs has continued practicing with the team and could be expected back sooner rather than later. With the efficiency of the 49ers' ground game this season, fans are chomping at the bit to see Jacobs incorporated into the rotation.
Randy Moss, WR
The headline free agent signing this offseason was in future Canton inductee Randy Moss.
However, despite all the coverage and hype surrounding him during training camp, Moss has been limited to a small fraction of offensive snaps. Each week, Moss watches a greater portion of the game from the sideline in full gear.
While he did score in his regular season debut against the Green Bay Packers, he has been fairly quiet since then. In four games, Moss has 8 catches for 88 yards and a touchdown -- averaging only two receptions and 20 yards per game.
However, he is averaging 11.0 yards per catch, and has moved the chains for San Francisco a few times. He's played a specific role in this offense but Moss' contributions to the team have still been limited.
It's hard to give Moss a high grade, considering his lack of involvement.
Leonard Davis, OL
In an under-the-rader offseason move, the 49ers brought in former Pro Bowl guard Leonard Davis. The ex-Cardinal and Cowboy was brought in to provide depth on the offensive line and experience in the team's heavy formations.
Speaking of heavy, the 6'6" Davis brings an extra 355 pounds of beef to this offensive line.
San Francisco has the best jumbo package in the NFL. The 49ers have scored 10 offensive touchdowns this season, half of which are rushing touchdowns. Of those five rushing touchdowns, four have come out of the Niners' jumbo formation that features Davis.
Of San Francisco's 2012 free agents, Davis may have had the most impact thus far.
Perrish Cox, CB
Perrish Cox is a former starter having played a season with Denver where he worked with secondary coach Ed Donatell, with whom he is now reunited in San Francisco.
Cox was a young, highly regarded player out of Oklahoma State that the Niners were able to acquire on a deal after some off-the-field issues. During his time in the NCAA and NFL, Cox displayed his natural abilities as a football player.
As a cornerback and returner, he's shown his versatility, speed and ball skills.
So far with the 49ers, Cox recorded two interceptions in preseason and has had 3 tackles since Week 1. He's provided depth in the secondary, shoring up the dime and nickel packages for San Francisco in this new-era passing league.