Fresh off a second-place finish in the NFC West and a trip to the NFC Championship Game, free agency is Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers' chance to reload for another run.
In order to do so, the team has to walk a financial tightrope. According to Over the Cap, the 49ers have a little more than $4 million left to work with this offseason, although restructures seem likely in order to free up space.
The biggest needs on the roster at this point are plainly obvious, especially with the team showing its hand in regards to what players it has shown interest in to date. So far, new nuggets of info are equally surprising and predictable but also figure to improve one of the NFL's best rosters if they come to fruition.
49ers Have Interest in Emmanuel Sanders...
San Francisco continues its hunt for a bargain at wideout.
So far, no dice. But eventually, a productive name will fit what the 49ers are looking for in part thanks to a deep free-agency class that has helped to drive the prices down, but mostly because of a 2014 draft class that is widely considered by experts to be the deepest in recent memory.
One of the names on the 49ers' plate at the moment is Emmanuel Sanders, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun:
Emmanuel Sanders will visit the 49ers next, according to a league source— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) March 14, 2014
Sanders was not overly impressive last year despite a chance to shine without Mike Wallace acting as the No. 1 receiver. He grabbed 67 passes for 740 yards and six scores while ranking as the No. 60 receiver in the league in Pro Football Focus' (subscription required) rankings, but the lackluster year after high expectations has created a thin market for his services.
This suits the 49ers well. Sanders has elite speed and fits well as a big-play threat as the No. 3 receiver. If the price is right, Sanders and the 49ers surely have plenty of things in common and can make fresh ink hit paper.
...And Julian Edelman
That is, unless Julian Edelman takes the 49ers' cash first to come home.
Edelman finally stayed healthy and productive last season and posted an exaggerated 105 receptions for 1,056 yards and six touchdowns thanks to the New England offense and quarterback Tom Brady.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, via Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, says that Edelman will officially be making a visit to San Francisco Friday.
The key between the 49ers and Edelman will come down to cash. If the market dictates Edelman's gaudy statistics are a fluke and he is not worth a massive payday thanks to an iffy injury history, then the 49ers stand a good chance of bringing Edelman home.
San Francisco certainly needs a slot receiver of his productivity to round out the offense. As a reliable option for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and yet another weapon for defenses to cover, Edelman seems to be the perfect fit.
49ers Also Ready to Pay CB Tarell Brown
Tarell Brown was quietly one of the NFL's best corners a year ago, as confirmed by his ranking No. 32 overall in the league last year, once again per PFF's rankings.
Bleacher Report's Ryan Riddle confirmed Brown's underappreciated value:
Tarell Brown is being extremely undervalued on the FA market. 49ers should resign him immediately.— Ryan Riddle (@Ryan_Riddle) March 13, 2014
Just how under the radar is Brown? The 49ers are willing to dish out quite a team-friendly contract to retain him at the moment, according to Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area:
49ers are comfortable with Chris Culliver and Tramaine Brock as the starters, and they're willing to pay Tarell Brown 3 yrs/$10M per source.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) March 14, 2014
For what it's worth, Brown wants to remain in San Francisco, as he told Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee before free agency:
"I'd love to stay in the Bay," he said after just finishing a track workout Monday in his native Texas. "That's where my heart is."
The front office in San Francisco would be wise to make something happen with Brown sooner rather later, as eventually the market will catch on and take the bidding war out of its price range.