Lost at Sea? SF 49ers in an Off-Season of 'Uncharted Waters'

Joseph BurkeyAnalyst IMarch 23, 2010

SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 01:  Head coach Mike Singletary of the San Francisco 49ers talks with the media during the 49ers Minicamp at their training facilities on May 1, 2009 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It's late March - several weeks into the first uncapped free-agent season since 1994.

Around the league, there has not been as many movers and shakers as some had predicted for this supposed free-agent feeding frenzy.

Chicago landed pass-rushing beast Julius Peppers.  Arizona plucked up Joey Porter and Derrick Anderson.  Tomlinson landed with the Jets. Cleavland has been busy bargain hunters, notably picking up hand-me-down value players such as Tony Pashos, Jake Delhomme and Ben Watson. And that's about it.  It has otherwise been a lineman here and a DB there, a couple of re-signings, and a swarm of practically untouchable Restricted-Free-Agents still roaming the market.

So where does SF stand? 

So far, they Franchised NT Aubrayo Franklin, picked up journeyman DB Karl Paymah out of Minnesota, and taken in stray former first overall pick David Carr.

Its hard to see how these moves have addressed the primary needs of beefing up the O-line,  turbocharging the pass rush, and developing a capable return game.

So I think to myself - they must be preparing for one hell of a draft.

The we get a nearly lethal dose of drama from management.  Our GM Scott McCloughin has 'taken an extended leave of absence' for personal reasons unknown.  Five weeks before the draft -- in the middle of the first uncapped free-agent season in over a decade and a half.  The extended leave becomes a lengthy issue.

The barometer drops, the sails fill with too much wind, and the surface gets choppy in a flash.

But I shalt not fear.  Our capable crew will not break to panic.  Coach Mike Singletary and owner/ president Jed York step up to the helm(s.) 

Though McCluoughin's departure is ridiculously abrupt - SF being in the middle of trying to lure in offensive lineman Chester Pitts.  Without a GM in place, York met with Pitts personally for lunch at Yan Can restaurant with director of pro personnel Tom Gamble.  Pitts reacted favorably.

This is the type of touch that Eddie DeBartalo himself might have supplied in just such a situation. Well done, young Mr. York.

But what about the - very important - 2010 Draft? Storm clouds gather.

The auxiliary system seems to include appointing an interim GM.  The line up of potential substitutes includes Paraag Marathe (executive VP of football and business operations)  Tom Gamble (pro personnel director) and Trent Baalke (player personnel director.) But really, who is steering the ship? 

Too many cooks spoil the broth, and times of turmoil and unrest require a real leader - a Cesar if you will.  Marathe, Gamble and Baalke will have their voices and input heard, but there's only one man who could be pulling the trigger here - one alpha dog who can be the head chef in the hellacious pressure of the infernal galley come draft day.  The man the future of the team has been entrusted too: Head Coach Mike Singletary.

In spite of statements that he won't have an expanded roll in the draft, Coach Singletary was front and center at the combine, and it's Coach Singletary the rookies and Free-Agent acquisitions will be playing for next fall. He is the Admiral that Jed York has trusted since last year to steer the fleet through squall and storm.

Anchors aweigh! Full speed ahead!  Uncharted waters? Forget about it.  Choppy as it can get this time of year, the 49ers organization is far from being lost at sea.