The 5 Best and Worst Moves of the San Francisco 49ers' 2013 Offseason
The San Francisco 49ers made it to the Super Bowl last season but came up short, losing to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31. Work began almost immediately for GM Trent Baalke, as he had several critical decisions to make in order to retool the 49ers' roster.
Baalke had to weave his way through the free-agent market, determining which players were most attractive to the 49ers. In addition, he needed to make decisions on key 49ers who he felt were not worth what other teams were willing to pay.
Through free agency, the 49ers both acquired and lost some excellent talent.
Baalke also needed to guide the draft process and with the 49ers ultimately selecting 11 players, there was a huge amount of research that needed to be done.
With so many decisions to make, Baalke and the 49ers made some good ones and others that may come back to haunt them. Let's take a closer look at the 49ers' best and worst moves of the offseason.
All stats are provided by www.pro-football-reference.com.
No. 5 Worst Move: The 49ers Are Still Without a Competent Punt Returner
The San Francisco 49ers have had major problems fielding punts over the past two seasons. The 49ers' punt returner from last year, Ted Ginn, has departed via free agency.
In 2012, Ginn had trouble staying healthy, but did play in 13 games, returning 32 punts for 326 yards. For the season, Ginn had four fumbles, three occurring on punt returns. He provided nothing else to the team as a receiver, so he was allowed to leave.
Kyle Williams has some experience returning punts, but he is far from a secure option. He takes unnecessary chances and often makes very poor decisions on when to try to catch the ball or simply let it go.
Williams also has a long history of getting injured, so he is not someone that can really be trusted to be there when he's needed.
Trent Baalke signed free-agent wide receiver Marlon Moore, formerly with the Miami Dolphins. Moore will be given a chance to return punts, but he is unlikely to make the team, as there are several receivers ahead of him in the 49ers' pecking order.
Obviously, returning punts is not a high priority for the 49ers, but the main thing is whoever they have back there must not turn the ball over.
There is nothing more demoralizing or tougher on a defense than to work hard to force a punt, only to have the ball given right back to the opponent because of a miscue on the punt return.
No. 5 Best Move: Signing Glenn Dorsey
The San Francisco 49ers lost their top two nose tackles in free agency. Starter Isaac Sopoaga departed to the Philadelphia Eagles after eight seasons with the 49ers.
Sopoaga's backup, Ricky Jean-Francois, also left in free agency, signing with the Indianapolis Colts.
The 49ers needed to fill the void of these departures and the player that will get the first chance is Glenn Dorsey.
Dorsey comes to San Francisco with something to prove. This should motivate him to be the best he can be and show his critics that he is a fine football player.
No. 4 Worst Move: Too Many Draft Selections
The San Francisco 49ers selected 11 players in the recent NFL draft.
Eleven players is two or three too many. GM Trent Baalke should have done more to move up in the draft or acquire one more higher pick, instead of making so many late-round selections.
The other option for Baalke was to trade out of 2013 with some picks and acquire more assets for 2014.
There is no way that 11 draftees can make the team. The 49ers will have wasted some of those picks, which is very unfortunate.
No. 4 Best Move: Acquiring Phil Dawson
The San Francisco 49ers grabbed Phil Dawson when he became available. This is an excellent move, as Dawson will replace David Akers.
Akers set records for most field goals, attempts and total points in 2011. In 2012, everything changed. Akers missed a league high of 13 attempts this past season.
The signing of Dawson is an excellent move, as he will provide consistency and a good leg on kickoffs. In 2012, Dawson converted 29 of his 31 attempts.
No. 3 Worst Move: Allowing Dashon Goldson to Leave
San Francisco free safety Dashon Goldson opted to sign a lucrative free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 49ers could have put the franchise tag on Goldson, enabling him to stay with the team for one more season.
Goldson is a polarizing figure for many fans. He is a good leader in the secondary and is a big hitter.
Many fans rightly point out that Goldson is not the best coverage man, which is also true.
However, if the 49ers had kept Goldson for one more season, that would have enabled them to let Donte Whitner depart now. Given both Goldson and Whitner, the 49ers should have kept Goldson over Whitner. We will have more on Whitner shortly.
No. 3 Best Move: Signing Nnamdi Asomugha
Nnamdi Asomugha was one of the best cornerbacks in the league with the Oakland Raiders. He played from 2003 to 2010 with the Raiders and earned Pro Bowl honors in each of his last three years.
Prior to the 2011 season, Asomugha signed a hefty contract with the Philadelphia Eagles. Unfortunately, this was a poor marriage as Asomugha did not prosper in the Eagles' zone scheme.
Asomugha was at his best in tight, man-to-man coverage, which will be more of a standard in San Francisco. This will be to Asomugha's advantage.
In addition to the defensive scheme being more favorable to Asomugha, he comes to the 49ers with a chip on his shoulder. Asomugha was ridiculed in Philadelphia for his poor play and he would like to prove that he still has a lot of good football left.
Asomugha bolsters the 49ers' cornerback situation and will compete for a starting corner position. If he doesn't make it, he would be a good fit as a nickelback.
No. 2 Worst Move: Keeping Donte Whitner
When the 49ers lost free safety Dashon Goldson, they were almost forced to retain strong safety Donte Whitner. The 49ers wanted some continuity at the safety position, so Whitner was the player they ended up keeping.
It should have been the other way around. Even though Goldson's salary would have been double that of Whitner, the savings from letting Whitner go would have paid for a large portion of the Goldson contract.
Whitner will be a good mentor to the 49ers' top draft pick, Eric Reid. He is also very tough against the run.
The problem is that Whitner is very poor in pass coverage. He is one of the worst starting safeties in coverage in the league. If the 49ers had opted to let him leave and keep Goldson, that would have been the better move.
No. 2 Best Move: Drafting Eric Reid
Safety was the 49ers' primary concern heading into the draft. GM Trent Baalke made an aggressive move trading up 13 spots to draft safety Eric Reid with the 18th overall selection.
Although two other very good safeties in addition to Reid, Matt Elam and Jonathan Cyprien, were still available, Baalke and the 49ers definitely wanted Reid.
Reid is probably the most NFL-ready player of the three and Baalke obviously did not want to chance losing him. Reid should be able to step right in to the 49ers' starting lineup.
He is not perfect and has some flaws, such as being overly aggressive at times and sometimes taking bad angles on plays, but those can be corrected. Reid is a big hitter and has decent coverage skills.
Reid has big shoes to fill, but he will also be helped by veterans Carlos Rogers, Nnamdi Asomugha, Donte Whitner and Tarell Brown in the 49ers' defensive backfield.
No. 1 Worst Move: Losing Tom Gamble
Unless you are a very knowledgeable fan of the 49ers, Tom Gamble is a man you wouldn't know. He was with the organization for the past eight seasons and served as the director of player personnel.
Gamble was Trent Baalke's right-hand man and his scouting was instrumental in many of the players the 49ers selected in recent drafts.
Gamble left the 49ers for a similar position with the Philadelphia Eagles, essentially a lateral move. He is from the East coast so the move enables him to return closer to his roots.
Gamble was a vital confidant in Baalke's decision-making process and he will be missed. More money and a loftier title could have enticed him to stay and the 49ers were remiss for not making that happen.
No. 1 Best Move: Trading for Anquan Boldin
Prior to acquiring Boldin, the 49ers had only one proven wide receiver, so Boldin gives quarterback Colin Kaepernick a solid veteran target.
Boldin will be 33 years of age in October, but he still has plenty of good football left. In 2012, Boldin had 65 receptions for 921 yards and four touchdowns.
Boldin also torched the 49ers in the Super Bowl, leading the Ravens with six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.
The 49ers gave up only a sixth-round draft pick to acquire Boldin. This was an outstanding move by GM Trent Baalke. Boldin is also an excellent presence off the field and can help mentor the younger 49er receivers.