The San Francisco 49ers came into the 2010 NFL season with high expectations and the possibility of the playoffs. There have been mistakes after mistakes that have continued to the haunt the 49ers which includes the inconsistent offensive line, the lack of a pass rush, and a weak secondary.
Here's a look at the free agents that could make an immediate impact on the 49ers in 2011 that will make the 49ers a playoff team.
Bill Cowher would be an excellent pick up if the 49ers continue to make mistake after mistake. Cowher is a defensive minded coach who has his teams play aggressively, which is what the 49ers need to do. If Mike Singletary is fired, Cowher would be the first person the 49ers contact.
The likelihood of Cowher coming out west 3/10.
Another option of the 49ers are unable to get Cowher to come out of retirement, Jon Gruden would be a possibility. Gruden is more of an offensive minded coach, but his fire and passion for the game is unquestioned.
It would be a little ironic if the 49ers eventually get a new stadium that maybe shared with the Oakland Raiders with Gruden as the coach of the 49ers.
Likelihood of Gruden as coach 5/10
Kevin Kolb proved last night that he could play the quarterback position in the NFL, even when the 49ers got pressure on him he made the decision to take a sack and not try to do too much with it. His most impressive play was on a 3rd and 18 when he ran for the first down.
Although, Kolb is inexperienced he would be a good option for the 49ers because he won't cost as much as someone like Michael Vick.
Likelihood in San Francisco 8/10
Michael Vick would bring excitement back to the bay area because not only can he escape pressure he has a solid arm that could get the ball down the field. The problem is he is more than likely going to be resigned by the Eagles if he can stay healthy.
Vick's elusiveness makes him the better starter than Kolb is for the Eagles. Also, since Andy Reid and the Eagles took a chance on him he's more likely going to stay.
Chance of Vick in a 49er uniform 3/10.
Sage Rosenfels is now in his ninth year in the league, but he has been primarily a backup. He is now 32 years old and in 2011 will be 33. He showed in Houston that he could make plays down the field, but he also had the propensity of turning the ball over.
The belief was that when Rosenfels was signed by the Minnesota Vikings in 2009 that he would become the starter and Tarvaris Jackson would be his backup. That all changed when Brett Favre came out of retirement and signed with the Vikings.
He is now the backup for the New York Giants, although Rosenfels could start for the 49ers for the 2011 season only to be replaced the following season by a younger quarterback the 49ers are more likely going to be drafting.
Rosenfels chances of signing with the 49ers 4/10
The 49ers need an upgrade at the fullback position, Moran Norris is a shell of his former self. Norris is still a good blocker, but doesn't add much else to the 49ers running game and being that Norris will be 33 when the season starts in 2011, the 49ers need to look for a younger fullback and Vonta Leach fills that role.
Leach isn't known to getting very many carries, but can be used out the backfield in 2009 nine he had 20 catches for Houston. He's similar in size and stature of Norris, but is nearly four years younger than Norris.
Odds of Leach being signed 8/10, the 49ers need a fullback and Leach gives that to the 49ers.
The suspension of four games might help the 49ers with signing Holmes. If has a decent season with the New York Jets he may not be resigned. This would give the 49ers an opportunity to bring in an experience receiver that would fit in as the second starting receiver.
Josh Morgan is the number two receiver for the 49ers and he has yet to break out. With the addition of Holmes there's no more waiting for Morgan.
Likley acquisition of Holmes 5/10
In a thin free agent class unless some linemen are released at the end of the 2010 season, Justin Blalock is the best option for the 49ers as he has started for the Atlanta Falcons since his rookie season in 2007 as a second round pick. At 6'3 320 he'd add size to the 49ers line and his experience would definitely be a plus for a young inexperience offensive line that the 49ers have currently.
Odds of the 49ers going after Blalock 8/10.
The 49ers need help on the pass rush and Mathias Kiwanuka would improve the line tremendously. He had a disappointing season in 2009, but seemed to have come back to form in the first three games of the season for the New York Giants, but an injury recently has kept him out of the lineup.
With Kiwanuka he's still young as he'll be 28 years of age in 2011, he has 23.5 sacks in what is now over just four plus years his career high so far has been eight sacks and that was in 2008. The Giants are more likely to resign him, but he'd definitely be an upgrade for the 49ers.
Odds of signing Kiwanuka 2/10
e.g. 'Chicago Blackhawks', 'Chicago Cubs'
Cullen Jenkins is known for doing on thing and that is getting after the quarterback, he's not going to impress a team with his ability to stop the run, but his ability to get to the quarterback will attract teams like the 49ers who haven't had a decent pass rusher in a while.
Jenkins would immediately fill the role on passing downs to get pressure on the quarterback. He'll be 30 in 2011, but he's recorded a sack in each of the first four games of the season and has forced three fumbles so far.
That is the playmaking end that the 49ers have been lacking.
Likely acquisition of Jenkins 7/10
With Aubrayo Franklin not likely to be resigned after the 2010 season, the 49ers need to replace the Franklin with a much younger player with plenty of upside. Instead of looking to the draft for a replacement, Brandon Mebane would be the answer to the departed Franklin.
Although, not as big as Franklin, Mebane can stop the run, but also get after the quarterback. Mebane who is now going into his fourth year in the league already has more sacks than Franklin has had in his eight year career.
Odds of signing Mebane 9/10
The 49ers defense which is good at stopping the run would benefit from adding this mammoth sized defensive linemen in Haloti Ngata who's 6'4 335, more than likely though the Baltimore Ravens will resign Ngata.
So, the odds of signing Ngata are remote and that would be a 1/10 chance of being signed by the 49ers.
LaMarr Woodley would be an immediate improvement at the outside linebacker position. He makes plays in the backfield whether it's stopping the run or opposing quarterbacks. If Jed York truly wants to prove that the 49ers are going to go back to their wins, Woodley has to be signed by the 49ers even if it means overpaying him.
Also, what would be intriguing would be a reunion with coach Bill Cowher if the 49ers are able to lure him out of retirement. Woodley is still young as he won't turn 27 in the 2011 season until November.
He's been to a Pro-Bowl and has had 31 sacks in just over three plus seasons in 2008 he had 11.5 sacks and in 2009 13 sacks.
Odds of Woodley being signed 5/10.
Shawne Merriman in his first three seasons was a beast for the San Diego Chargers, but since that time he had a season missed due to injury and a disappointing season in 2009 with only four sacks. This year he's battled an injury and hasn't done much.
It is clear that Merriman needs a change of scenery and heading to the bay area may be just what he needs. In his first three seasons in the league he compiled 39.5 sacks, but has had just four in his last three seasons.
Also, Merriman is just a few months older than LaMarr Woodley and his ability to get after the quarterback would be a huge plus for the 49ers.
Odds of signing 8/10
Besides a lack of pass rush the San Francisco 49ers need to improve their secondary with playmakers specifically at the corner position. One way to do that is by the signing of Johnathan Joseph who had six interceptions in 2009.
So, far this season he has struggled to make the plays that he did in 2009 and with only one pass deflected his value could be going down which would be a good thing for the 49ers meaning that this time when a solid cornerback comes their way the 49ers aren't going to over pay.
Joseph is still young he'll be 27 at the start of the 2011 season and so far in his four plus years in the league he has 11 interceptions.
Odds of signing Joseph 8/10
Antonio Cromartie has done a tremendous job as the number one corner for the New York Jets with Darrelle Revis out with a hamstring injury. He has two interceptions so far on the 2010 season including one returned for 66 yards and he has four passes defended.
In his four plus seasons in the league he has 17 interceptions and two have been returned for touchdowns. So, he's a playmaker in the secondary something that the 49ers have been lacking for a while now. His best season came in his second year in the league where he intercepted 10 passes.
Odds of signing Cromartie 3/10.
Eric Weddle is a strong tackle from his safety position, but also can make plays in the secondary has in his three year plus career he has four interceptions but also four sacks. He'll be 26 entering the 2011 season. A combination of Taylor Mays at strong safety and Weddle at free safety would immediately improve the 49ers secondary.
The Chargers are more likely to try to resign him as he is still extremely young and is their best defensive back.
Likelihood of signing Weddle 4/10
The players most likely not to be signed either because either the player will be signed or be priced too high would be Vick, Kiwanuka, Ngata, Cromartie, and Weddle.
The most likely players the 49ers could sign would be Kolb, Rosenfels, Leach, Holmes, Blalock, Jenkins, Mebane, Woodley, Merriman, and Joseph.
In order for the 49ers to field a play off teams these are the players that have to be signed Woodley, Jenkins, Kolb, Leach, Joseph, Blalock and Weddle.
The reason being is that Kolb improves the quarterback position, Leach improves the fullback position, Jenkins and Woodley improve the pass rush, and Joseph and Weddle improve the secondary, Mebane replaces the departed Franklin, and Blalock improves the offensive line.