The 49ers didn’t plan on making a big splash in free agency, and true to their word, they haven’t.
The team did make the somewhat surprising move of adding quarterback David Carr to the roster. They also made a run at blocking tight end Anthony Becht, who decided to re-sign with the Arizona Cardinals.
Other than some second tier signings, it is still doubtful that the team will go after any of the top tier free agents left. But there are still a few unresticted free agents that could make sense.
Offensive tackle is the team’s biggest need, and with Tony Pashos signing with the Cleveland Browns, the team can ill afford to lose Barry Sims.
Sims played well last year when he was asked to fill in for the injured Joe Staley. He can also play both sides of the line. The team will look to the draft for a starter, but depth is also a concern, and re-signing Sims should be a priority.
Chilo Rachal and David Baas both struggled at guard last season. The team will likely give Rachal another year to develop and prove that his 2008 season was no fluke.
With Baas’ inconsistent play and propensity towards injury, he could likely be done with the team.
There are two guys that could come in and replace Baas right away. The Cincinnati Bengals' Bobbie Williams, and the Houston Texans' Chester Pitts.
Williams has been a key component of the Bengals' resurgent running game. At 33, Williams should have few good years left in him. And at 6’4" and 345 pounds, Williams is the kind of road grader that this team is looking for to open up its running game.
Williams is rumored to be on the brink of a deal to remain with the Bengals, but deals sometimes fall through.
Pitts had been generating interest from around the league, most recently from the Detroit Lions.
Pitts has been a model of consistency for the Houston Texans. He started the first 114 games in team history.
He can play both guard and tackle positions with equal effectiveness. Although Pitts is coming off a knee injury that broke his games played streak, he should bounce back nicely and he would be able to instantly improve the O-line.
(Update 3/12/10: "The 49ers are scheduled to bring in Houston free-agent guard Chester Pitts for a visit next week"- reports the Detroit News.)
If Nate Clements, Walt Harris, and Dre Bly all depart, the secondary is going to be devoid of veteran leadership and in serious need of a play-maker.
Unfortunately, New England’s Leigh Bodden just re-signed with the New England Patriots. He might just have been an improvement over the over-priced and aging Clements.
So why not bring in veteran safety Darren Sharper? A rejuvenated Sharper was an instrumental component of the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints' defense last year.
Even on a one-year deal, he could provide valuable experience and mentoring to Dashon Goldson, Reggie Smith, Tarell Brown, and Shawntae Spencer.
And the man can still play.
While we are on the subject of veterans, the 49ers' anemic pass rush could use some fire.
Call me crazy, but perhaps the presence of Joey Porter might just fire these guys up. His sack total did drop from 17.5 to 9 this last season, but that is still more than anyone on the 49ers.
Porter’s personality might keep the team from signing him, but sometimes that is just the price of admission (see Charles Haley).