10 Ways for Jim Harbaugh To Improve the San Francisco 49ers
Jim Harbaugh is the new head coach in San Francisco, so we are going to see a lot of roster moves this offseason. Not quite as many as Pete Carroll last year, because the Niners aren't as big of a train wreck as Seattle was last year, but a significantly different team will take the field for San Francisco in 2011.
Here are ten moves Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke could make with the current roster, free agency, and the draft to improve the team.
Round 1, Pick 7: Ryan Kerrigan, DE Purdue
Ryan Kerrigan has the potential to be a very good pass rusher. Right now he's considered a defensive end, but he's sized more like a 3-4 outside linebacker at 6-4 263. That's the same height and exactly one pound heavier than DeMarcus Ware.
Kerrigan has a knack for forcing fumbles, and he can put pressure on the quarterback even when he doesn't get there. Those are both elements the 49ers pass rush has been lacking.
The 49ers and Ryan Kerrigan are a great match. He provides a solid pass rush, and along the way he would develop as a linebacker by working with the likes of Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes. It might be a slight reach to take Kerrigan with this pick, but not by much.
Round 2, Pick 13: Ras-I Dowling, CB Virginia
The Niners have an obvious need at corner, and Ras-I Dowling is a great option at that position. He has first round abilities, but will likely fall to the second round because he didn't play much in 2010 due to injury.
Ras-I Dowling has some great ball skills and is good against the run too. And he's a great guy off the field. Injury is a concern, but Dowling's potential in the second round is too good to pass up.
Round 3, Pick 12: Ricky Stanzi, QB Iowa
Ricky Stanzi reminds me a lot of Tom Brady. For one thing, both of their interception totals went way down from their junior to senior seasons. Brady went from 12 to 6, and Stanzi went from 15 to 6.
Stanzi shows great leadership, all the intangibles, and a natural looking release with great accuracy. He does make a few bad decisions, but they rarely cost him, which is reflected in his low interception total.
I think Stanzi could develop into a great quarterback with some clipboard duties and Harbaugh coaching. He just might be the steal of the draft.
Cut Nate Clements
Nate Clements has gotten burned badly over the past few years, and it's time for the 49ers to get rid of his outrageous salary. He's a liability in the secondary, and you don't pay a guy $7.25 million to sit on the bench.
I seriously doubt that Clements would be willing to take a significant pay cut, and with a new coaching staff arriving in San Francisco, it's time for the 49ers put the bad contracts of the past behind them. Nate Clements needs to go.
Cut David Carr
The 49ers gave David Carr about one half of football before they went with the third stringer Troy Smith. And in that one half of football, he handed Carolina one of their two wins on the season.
There's not much to say here. David Carr is a waste of a roster spot and should be cut.
Sign Nnamdi Asomugha Or Champ Bailey
Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the NFL's elite corners and an unrestricted free agent. That spells big bucks, but nobody's denying that he's worth it. He shuts down his whole side of the field and would make a great mentor for a guy like Ras-I Dowling if they get him.
If Jed York isn't willing to spend the $10+ million it would take to get Asomugha, Champ Bailey is the next best option. The veteran still has a few years left in the tank, and he wouldn't be as expensive as Asomugha. He could serve the same role as mentor and shutdown corner for San Francisco.
Resign Manny Lawson
Despite a lower sack total, Manny Lawson actually improved from '09 to '10. He got better at coverage and run defense, and more importantly he wants to stay in San Francisco. His efforts to do so may be a little misguided, but it's really important that your players want to be there.
There isn't a clear improvement over Lawson in the free agent market, so it isn't really that hard of a decision to keep Manny Lawson.
Resign Aubrayo Franklin
A good nose tackle is really hard to find. Aubrayo Franklin is solid, and that's good enough for me. If they give him a two or three year deal, it would get him to training camp, and it would give the Niners time to find his replacement.
Franklin may be expensive, but you can't run a 3-4 without a good nose tackle, so the 49ers can't afford to lose Franklin.
Resign Dashon Goldson
Like with Franklin and Lawson, there aren't really any improvements over Dashon Goldson in the free agent market.
Goldson didn't play terribly this year anyway, and he could have a bounce back year and return to his 2009 form. The best thing would be to give him a one year deal and reassess the situation next year.
Trade For Kyle Orton
There are no quarterbacks in this year's draft who could start immediately, so the Niners need a veteran who can start now. Kyle Orton may be the perfect man for the job. The Broncos look like they're going to keep and maybe start Tim Tebow, so they will probably look to trade Orton.
Orton passed for 281 yards a game in 2010, and that's with the Broncos' crappy run game and limited weapons. There's a rumor that the Broncos want a second round pick for him, but they're not likely to get it because of his $8.4 million salary. He could probably be had for one or two fourth rounders or maybe next year's third rounder. That's a fair price for a veteran like Orton.