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If healthy, Marcus Lattimore could be the heir apparent to Frank Gore
My projected San Francisco 49ers' 53-man roster, which can be found in the last slide breaks down like this:
|Original Draft Picks ||33
|Undrafted Free-Agent Signings ||4
|Veteran Free Agents
One common theme for contending teams in the National Football League is that they make the decision to build through the draft and supplement in free agency. Considering that 62 percent of my projected 49ers roster is made up of original draft picks, it could be said that they're doing it right.
Of course possessing the ability to draft right is an important aspect of success. It enables you too replenish your roster and move on from aging veterans.
San Francisco followed this model to a T in April.
Justin Smith is entering his mid 30's and will be a free agent following the 2013 season. Pretty much on cue, San Francisco exhausted a second-round pick on defensive end Cornellius Carradine. The Florida State product was Matt Miller's No. 5 overall player in the draft and will be an immediate contributor as a rotational player in 2013 before eventually taking over for Smith.
Outside linebacker Corey Lemonier was one of the better all-around pass rushers in April's draft and fits the 49ers 3-4 defense perfectly. The third-round pick will vie for the primary backup spot at outside linebacker behind Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks.
Brooks signed a six-year, $44 million contract extension with San Francisco last offseason. He is set to count about $8 million per season against the cap after 2013. If Lemonier pans out, the 49ers could easily jettison Brooks from the roster and save a cool $7 million against the cap.
San Francisco's first-round selection Eric Reid will come in and immediately replace Dashon Goldson at free safety. While Reid may struggle in coverage early in his career, his issues in that aspect of the game should be masked by a stellar front seven; much like what we saw from Goldson during his tenure in San Francisco.
The five-year, $41.25 million contract that Goldson signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason just wasn't sustainable for a contending 49ers team. They needed to find a cheaper alternative, and just so happened to pick one up who represents more upside and is quite a bit younger.
According to Overthecap.com, Reid's contract should count $1.5 million against the cap. Is it a surprise to you that the $6.5 million difference between Goldson's deal and what Reid will earn in 2013 is nearly the same exact amount ($6 million) that newly acquired receiver Anquan Boldin is set to earn this season?
See, San Francisco has a plan and part of that plan is to utilize the money it saves by finding cheaper alternatives at one position to upgrade at another.
Some fans in Northern California might not want to face the reality that Frank Gore might only have a season or two of great football ahead of him. As one of the greatest running backs in franchise history, the idea of San Francisco taking the field without No. 21 might be hard to digest.
That being said, the 30-year-old running back has a lot of mileage in those tires and has hit that unenviable age where players at his position tend to slow down.
San Francisco exhausted a fourth-round pick in 2011 on Kendall Hunter and a second-round pick last year on LaMichael James. While both are going to be key contributors moving forward, the 49ers thought it made sense to nab a running back that fits the bill as a three-down player.
Marcus Lattimore would have easily been the first running back off the board last month if it wasn't for multiple ACL injuries at South Carolina. His rehabilitation seems to be going extremely well, but San Francisco might make the decision to sit him for the entire 2013 season (via CSN Bay Area).
It's not like the 49ers actually need Lattimore to play a role this year. They have the talent and depth to sit him for a season and rely on him to come back strong in 2014.
This was a win-win situation for both the young running back and his new team.
I could go up and down San Francisco's roster and find more examples of it replenishing the roster from within, but these were the most glaring examples.