Ranking the Biggest Free Agency Priorities for the San Francisco 49ers

Phil G@FuturePhilGCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2013

Ranking the Biggest Free Agency Priorities for the San Francisco 49ers

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    After a successful 11-5-1 regular season, capped off by the organization's first Super Bowl appearance since 1995, the perception is that the San Francisco 49ers are sitting pretty. 

    I can see how this perception was created. The Niners possess an elite coach, defense and running attack, topped off by a young quarterback with superstar potential. What team isn't envious of this group? 

    While the above is all true, the 49ers should know that with success comes expectations. The 49ers aren't dealing with the usual when comes to success.

    Fans don't just expect playoff wins or conference championship appearances, or even Super Bowl appearances. They want championship trophies––notice the trophies in plural. 

    However, previous success doesn't guarantee future success. In fact, teams who usually make a Super Bowl appearance never make it back in the successive season. 

    The 49ers have history against them, but if any team can make it back, it's this group led by head coach Jim Harbaugh. 

    Here are five priorities for the 49ers to consider come free agency. 

5. ILB Depth

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    The 49ers boast two of the top inside linebackers in the game in Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. However, they lack depth behind these stud linebackers. 

    With Larry Grant likely to depart in free agency, the 49ers will likely have to address depth issues in either the draft or free agency. The 49ers have 14 potential selections in the NFL draft this year. 

    However, if they decide to fill this spot in free agency, there are several veterans who could fit in nicely. Additionally, the 49ers could look to re-sign either Clark Haggans or Tavares Gooden if both find the market to be unwelcoming.  

    Potential Free Agent Additions

    Tavares Gooden

    Clark Haggans

    Lorenzo Alexander 

4. Backup Quarterback

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    With Alex Smith likely to be either traded or cut, the 49ers must address the backup quarterback position behind emerging star, Colin Kaepernick. 

    Having a solid backup quarterback is ideal for any team with championship aspirations, especially one with a dual threat as their signal-caller. While Kaepernick has shown to be sturdy, you can never be too cautious when it comes to potential injuries. 

    Third string quarterback Scott Tolzien has looked intriguing, but I highly doubt he's ready to take over if Kaepernick is unable to play. The 49ers would do well to add a veteran signal-caller. 

    Matt Hasselbeck could be on the radar if the Titans decide to cut their expensive backup quarterback. With Locker set to take over, Hasselbeck could be on the chopping block. If so, the 49ers could be a ideal team for the veteran quarterback looking for a potential ring. 

    Also, Kaepernick would have great mentor in Hasselbeck. 

    Potential Free Agent Additions: 

    Matt Hasselbeck (if cut by Tennessee Titans)  

    Rex Grossman 

    Tyler Thigpen 

3. Outside Linebacker/Defensive Line Depth

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    After coming off a season-ending injury, Parys Haralson could be cut. With Aldon Smith establishing himself opposite Ahmad Brooks, Haralson is the odd man out. 

    While the 49ers would welcome Haralson to the rotation, his $2.57 million salary for 2013 will make it tough for the veteran to stay. 

    However, the Niners do need better depth at linebacker and defensive end. We all saw how Justin Smith's absence affected this Niners defense, and adding a younger defensive end wouldn't hurt. 

    Potential Free Agent Additions: 

    Calvin Pace

    Sergio Kindle 

    Victor Butler (DE/OLB)

2. "Y" or "Z" Receiver

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    The 49ers desperately need a outside receiver opposite emerging star Michael Crabtree.

    Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams are coming off serious injuries, and Randy Moss and Ted Ginn are likely departing for a bigger role. That leaves the 49ers with Crabtree and 2012 first-round pick, A.J. Jenkins.

    I like Jenkins in the slot, but he seems to be progressing at a slower rate than many expected. This leaves free agency as the best option. 

    Greg Jennings would be a great fit, both on the field and in the locker room. Additionally, the 49ers should consider taking a look at Mike Wallace. 

    Potential Free Agent Additions: 

    Greg Jennings

    Mike Wallace 

    Brian Hartline 

    Ramses Barden 

1. Secondary Help

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    The 49ers boast a solid secondary, but it could be better—especially at corner. Also, the safety play was nothing to sneeze at as well. 

    Dashon Goldson will likely be re-signed, and while I have no worries about his play in the upcoming season, this secondary still needs adjusting. 

    We should start with Carlos Rogers, who looks to have lost a step in 2012. If the 49ers can find a upgrade, they may end up releasing Rogers because of his nearly $8 million cap hit for 2013.

    Brown and Culliver were very solid this season, but some moving around needs to be done. Don't be surprised if Vic Fangio moves Brown into the slot, while keeping Culliver on the outside. 

    Also, the 49ers have a ton of options in the draft, but I think they look towards free agency for an immediate fix. Also, don't be surprised if the 49ers go after Darrelle Revis, who may be available if the Jets can't re-sign the star cornerback to a long-term deal. 

    Potential Free Agent Additions: 

    Jarius Byrd 

    Ed Reed

    Mike Jenkins 

    Aqib Talib

    Darrelle Revis