The agony of defeat. The hopelessness of walking away with nothing more than a pat on the back. This is what the San Francisco 49ers, and by extension, the 49ers fans, are feeling.
The dreaded truth, as we all know, is that there can only be one winner. And with that winner––the Baltimore Ravens—already crowned, the outcome is decided. There will be no turning back, to the dread of many fans.
Like the other 28 NFL teams, the 49ers must simply move on, as hard as it is to accept.
General manager Trent Baalke will attempt to strengthen the few weaknesses of this 49ers team, starting with the secondary.
Ironically, the 49ers boasted a top-five secondary in the regular season, but anyone with two eyes understood how this unit struggled come the postseason.
With the league hatching quarterbacks left and right, the 49ers must address their back end if they hope to reach the lofty heights of another Super Bowl.
Luckily, I have some potential answers.
The 49ers are loaded with draft picks in the 2013 NFL draft. As it stands, the 49ers possess 11 draft picks in 2013, not counting potential compensatory selections, which could push the overall number to 14.
Additionally, the 49ers may receive more selections if they indeed trade quarterback Alex Smith. Although, expect the 49ers to likely ask for 2014/2015 picks in return, rather than add to their already large 2013 pile.
With the ammo loaded, look for the 49ers to possibly make a jump up the draft boards to get a difference-making player in the secondary.
DeMarcus "Dee" Milliner (Alabama)
Xavier Rhodes (Florida State)
The trade market is usually quiet, but the 49ers may enter this route in the offseason to improve their secondary.
As we all know, Darrelle Revis is on the market, and according to sources, the San Francisco 49ers are one of the few teams interested in the 27-year-old's services.
However, unlike the other handful of teams, the 49ers do possess the draft picks and a potential quarterback in Alex Smith to entice the New York Jets.
This really comes down to money. Revis likely wants big money, and while I can see the Niners restructuring a few contracts to get the cap tidy enough for his arrival (currently around $3.5 million under the cap), don't expect the 49ers to overpay. Just ask Dashon Goldson.
As of right now, this is still only a long shot; however, the 49ers do have a great shot in landing Revis if the Jets are truly serious about trading the All-Pro cornerback.
Receivers will likely highlight this 2013 free-agent class, but don't sleep on the defensive backs. There are some enticing options for the 49ers to consider, especially if they can't re-sign Dashon Goldson to a long-term extension.
Brent Grimes and Aqib Talib would fit nicely in this 49ers secondary. As would Jairus Byrd, or even (gulp) Ed Reed.
All four of these players could eventually return to their original teams, especially Grimes and Reed, but options are out there for the 49ers if they so choose to explore them.
This might be the more likely outcome. While it would be nice for the 49ers to have their own island, or better playmakers in the secondary, this is still a pretty strong secondary that many teams would love to have.
Of course, in order to stay pat they would have to re-sign starting safety, Dashon Goldson. While Goldson struggled in the postseason, he is still a valuable commodity that will be hard to replace.
If the Niners decide to strengthen the secondary through free agency or trades, Goldson will likely depart due to the 49ers' limited cap space.