The San Francisco 49ers have built a solid core mostly through the draft, and I expect that strategic plan to continue. However, unlike 2012, when the 49ers retained almost all their key free agents, things are wide open this time around.
The 49ers have created some cap space with the trade of Alex Smith. Other potential departures of players like Dashon Goldson, Isaac Sopoaga, Randy Moss, Ted Ginn and Delanie Walker can open up even more room.
This will be GM Trent Baalke's most important offseason to date, as he navigates the 49ers through the draft and free-agent market. The 49ers' 2012 draft appears very weak at this point, although it's too early to make a final judgement. This makes the 2013 draft even more important.
In addition to the draft, the 49ers would be well-served to acquire a few free agents to bolster their roster and make up for the potential attrition of their own former players.
With the 49ers so close to a world championship in the past two years, it's important for them to capitalize on their window of opportunity. Baalke has some tough decisions to make on the 49ers' own free agents, as well as who they can acquire.
Let's take a look at 10 free agents whom the 49ers must decide either to pursue vigorously or let pass them by. Some of these players are from San Francisco's own 2012 roster and others are available from other teams.
Baalke's success in the next few months will go a long way to determining the 49ers' future over the next couple of seasons. He is already off to an excellent start this offseason with the Alex Smith deal and now the acquisition of Anquan Boldin for a sixth-round draft pick.