San Francisco 49ers: Free-Agency Frenzy or Forbearance?
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In reality, San Francisco can afford to be quiet.
Coming off their recent loss in Super Bowl XLVII to the Baltimore Ravens, the 49ers had relatively few glaring issues facing them as they entered the offseason. There were concerns surrounding Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson and his contract discussions. Other possible departures included tight end Delanie Walker and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga. San Francisco needed some help at the wide receiver position and also needed to move quarterback Alex Smith.
Smith was eventually traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, and then San Francisco solved its receiving issue by trading for wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Goldson remained a top priority for the 49ers, and considering his impact and production on the field, Goldson was certain to command a hefty contract.
Yet, San Francisco seemed prepared to let Goldson go if it could not retain him at the right price. That is exactly what happened, and Goldson left for a five-year, $41 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (h/t spotrac.com). Considering their salary cap concerns, and eventual negotiations with young stars like quarterback Colin Kaepernick and wide receiver Michael Crabtree, the 49ers had incentive to look for cheaper options.
While other teams such as Philadelphia and Tampa Bay have made significant moves at the start of the free-agent "frenzy," San Francisco has remained patient. There was reason to believe that the 49ers would not be taking part in bidding wars, especially among some of their own free agents (h/t sfgate.com). Instead, San Francisco remains in excellent position to fill some of the needs, both in areas needing upgrades as well as holes left from players like Goldson and Sopoaga.
The 49ers signed former Chiefs defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey on Wednesday, which will add depth to their defensive line and make Sopoaga's departure insignificant. Dorsey, a former Chiefs first-round pick in 2008, was criticized for his abilities in the pass rush, but praised for his efforts against the run (h/t Niners Nation). The 49ers coaching staff will hope to improve his play where needed.
San Francisco is also showing diligence in its efforts to replace Goldson. Former Green Bay Packers safety Charles Woodson has been in negotiations with the 49ers and he has been quoted as saying San Francisco is at the "top of his list" (h/t 95.7 The Game via sfgate.com).
The 49ers have also met with former Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. If San Francisco elects to go with either option, it will most likely be a short-term deal. In the case of Asomugha, the 49ers would be concerned with his recent struggles in Philadelphia as well as the potential cost of having him over a long period (h/t USA Today).
Former Ravens safety Ed Reed and former Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas reportedly have already or plan to pay visits to San Francisco, according CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora and ESPN's Adam Schefter, respectively.
There is some concern as to how San Francisco will handle the departure of Walker. In recent seasons, the 49ers have utilized multiple tight end sets, and Walker, while not as dynamic as his former teammate Vernon Davis, played an integral role in San Francisco's offense (Niners Nation).
Yet, the trade for Boldin offsets some of those concerns, as Boldin provides not only a receiving threat, but also possesses considerable blocking abilities.
Of course, there is the fact that San Francisco has 14 total draft picks in this year's draft. It is plausible, perhaps likely, that the 49ers would much rather draft and then develop their own replacements as needed. San Francisco will most likely utilize some of those picks to trade up in the draft as it clearly does not have 14 holes to fill.
They also may still make some more moves in free agency. Considering the aforementioned possibilities, San Francisco looks to be exercising its patience and not going overboard for any player they consider a "must have."
In this week of frenzy, negotiations and monster contracts, the 49ers' best asset is their patience and forbearance. It has worked well up to this point and should serve them well moving forward.
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