2011 NFL Free Agency: 5 Players the San Francisco 49ers Should Target

Casey Crail@@crvilsCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2010

2011 NFL Free Agency: 5 Players the San Francisco 49ers Should Target

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    The San Francisco 49ers have been a disappointment all season long.

    With a possible head coaching change, it is possible that many players on the roster may be replaced. Regardless, there will most likely be new faces brought in via free agency and trade.

    In a solid free agent class, the 49ers should be able to land at least one player that will impact the struggling franchise.

1. Jonathan Joseph

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    Jonathan Joseph has emerged as an elite cornerback over the last few years. On a struggling Cincinnati team, it is being speculated that Joseph may not be re-signed.

    If this is the case, the 49ers should make a strong effort to land the cornerback. In a first-round cornerback prospect-heavy draft, many draft experts have San Francisco looking at Nebraska's Prince Amukamara.

    However, if the Niners can land Joseph on draft day, they can look to address another need in the first round, such as quarterback or a pass rusher.

    Some will argue that the Niners will not look to give Joseph big money because they already have a huge contract to another corner, Nate Clement. However, if the 49ers can persuade Joseph to come to the Bay Area, they can not afford to not have him wear red and white next season.

2. Ray Edwards

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    Isaac Sopoaga and Ray Edwards are not going to cut it as starters for the left side of the defensive line. Either are solid backups for a play or two a drive while a real starter is catching his breath, but there is a need for a real defensive end across Justin Smith, who will not be around a whole lot longer due to age.

    Ray Edwards is an extremely athletic end who is not often talked about because he shares the line with Jared Allen, plus Kevin and Pat Williams.

    If the 49ers could land Ray Edwards, he would immediately impact the defense by actually getting sacks, unlike Sopoaga. Also, by getting to the quarterback, passes will be rushed, so the job of the secondary will become easier.

3. Donovan McNabb

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    It has been reported today that Donovan McNabb will request to be released by Washington upon the conclusion of his first season as a Redskin.

    McNabb has not had a pretty season by any means, but he is still a quality starter in this league and would be an immediate upgrade over both Alex and Troy Smith.

    If the 49ers do not feel Ryan Mallett, Cam Newton or Jake Locker are worth using a first rounder on, and do not feel they can get Kevin Kolb in a fair trade, McNabb would most likely be the next option.

    McNabb has had his ups and downs, but this 49er team is starting to come around — poor coaching and quarterback play have held them back. McNabb should be able to at least get San Francisco to the playoffs.

4. Kyle Orton

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    Kyle Orton signed a one-year extension, and is not a free agent. However, like McNabb, Orton has had rough goings recently that could end in his release or trade.

    Kyle Orton looked great for the majority of this season. Once on track fro a 5,000 yard season, things have fallen apart, and Tim Tebow has taken over as the starter.

    If Orton is put on the trade block or released, the 49ers could look to bring him to San Francisco.

    Like McNabb, he would provide an immediate upgrade over the Smiths; however, unless the most likely new head coach is high on Orton, he probably won't become a 49er.

5. Santonio Holmes

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    Rumblings are that the Jets may let Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards walk after this season.

    San Francisco should look hard at Holmes if this does indeed happen. Holmes would provide yet another weapon for whoever is taking snaps under center.

    Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Santonio Holmes and even Josh Morgan have been emerging as pretty solid options. This would be an extremely solid receiving core. Insert Frank Gore for the run and screen game, and this could be a potent offense.

    If the Jets do let Holmes walk, the Niners should look long and hard at bringing him in to try to make one of the best offenses in the game. That is, if they do draft, sign or trade for a quarterback.