San Francisco 49ers Free Agency: Nnamdi Asomugha and 5 Other Targets
The San Francisco 49ers left a few glaring holes on their roster after neglecting areas of need during the 2011 NFL Draft.
They bypassed on a potential starting corner and quarterback, only to draft an outside linebacker who may not start right away.
In the second round, they drafted a project quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, who seems to be the 49ers' quarterback of the future, but probably isn't the 49ers' quarterback of the present.
After missing on opportunities to bring in a potential starting 2011 fullback in Owen Marecic, it became clear Jim Harbaugh was not necessarily interested in helping the 2011 49ers, but was more focused on the 2013 49ers.
He and Trent Baalke brought in a slew of high-ceiling guys that could develop into NFL superstars under the right circumstances. That will be fantastic in a few short years, but fans want answers now.
Will fans really have to suffer through another year of teams throwing the ball at will on the 49ers' splotchy secondary? If Aubrayo Franklin leaves, will Isaac Sopoaga be expected to be the man in the middle?
Alas, we head into free agency. We don't know when it will come, only that its arrival is a certainty. Here are five players that the 49ers could make a serious push for in free agency.
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB
Nnamdi Asomugha is going to be the most high-profile free agent on the market. It turns out his record-breaking deal was nearly unattainable, and his time in Oakland was cut short.
It appears they may still have the best chance to bring in Asomugha, but the thought of moving across the Bay to the upstart 49ers has to be appealing to the All-Pro. He fills a need and could take over a huge portion of the money that Nate Clements and Aubrayo Franklin are currently soaking up.
The 49ers would be able to get a lot more creative in their scheming with one of the best lockdown corners in the game.
Antonio Cromartie, CB
Antonio Cromartie could come in and be the physical corner the 49ers thought they were getting when they brought in Nate Clements.
Obviously he is taking a step backwards by entering the 49ers' secondary, having played opposite the best corner in the game last season in Darrelle Revis. He will be looking for a job though and could find a home in San Francisco.
Cromartie rubs a lot of people the wrong way. His twitter blasting of Matt Hasselbeck and outspoken attitude against the lockout disturb a lot of people with positions of authority around the league. Somehow I don't think 49ers fans would be put off by a guy who hates the lockout and Hasselbeck, but that is all speculation.
Cullen Jenkins, DE
Cullen Jenkins did well in Dom Capers' 3-4 scheme. The scheme is similar to the one Vic Fangio will want to install in San Francisco.
The 49ers are hurt at defensive end. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald can hold down the starting spots, but if Isaac Sopoaga moves inside, there is a huge void in the rotation.
The previous regime stocked up on linebackers and kept very few defensive lineman on roster. This is problematic moving forward, with the likelihood of Aubrayo Franklin leaving being sky-high. Jenkins could come in and start immediately over Ray McDonald.
Chad OchocInco, WR
Like it or not, the 49ers need an upgrade at wide receiver. USC standout Ronald Johnson was a great late addition, but to think he can come in and be a dominant receiver right away is irrational.
The 49ers would be given a dominant receiver if they elected to obtain Chad Ochocinco. Nobody is expecting a five year deal here. Two years to let Johnson develop and Michael Crabtree to come into his own would make the addition of Ochocinco worth while.
A set featuring Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Chad Ochocinco, Michael Crabtree and Ronald Johnson would be tough to compete with. Love him or hate him, Ochocinco would blow the doors off the whole offense.
Carl Nicks, OG
The Saints have invested heavily in their offensive line. The time may come where they have to decide between keeping Carl Nicks or Jermon Bushrod. In this scenario, they will almost certainly have to part ways with Pro Bowl guard Nicks.
Perfect. The 49ers need a guard to take over for Chilo Rachal. David Baas may have to take over center duties, with uncertainty surrounding Eric Heitmann's neck.
Nicks gives them a great talent and fills a need with a standout lineman. The 49ers could have two Pro Bowl guards next season with the addition of Nicks and progression of Mike Iupati, a far cry from just a season ago.