San Francisco 49ers Free Agency: Top 10 Players on the Team's Wishlist
The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a disappointing 6-10 season which marked the eighth straight year that they didn't qualify for the playoffs.
However, they're now into a new regime and are looking to turn it around here in the Bay Area.
With the lockout still looming, the immediate future of the league is still uncertain, and that includes when free agency will roll around.
Nevertheless, teams are making preparations because they know that when it eventually does start, it'll be a scramble for the best available talent in order to fill the voids on their roster.
That said, here's a ranking of the top 10 players who should be atop the 49ers wishlist. As you can see, I'm a firm believer that the 49ers should bolster their defense by signing a top-tier talent.
Note: This is in no particular order.
QB Matt Hasselbeck (Seahawks)
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There's no question that the 49ers need to find stability at quarterback, as they haven't really had any since Jeff Garcia.
They did draft Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick with the 36th overall pick in last month's draft, but he's not ready mechanically to start day one, which is why they're still searching for a starter.
It makes sense to bring in a veteran who can help Kaepernick learn the ropes, and who can quickly grasp head coach Jim Harbaugh's offense.
That's why I think they should look at Matt Hasselbeck, who would also provide extra value considering they'd be "stealing" him from a division rival.
He's only had one strong season in the past five years, but he may be their best bet as a short-term option.
RB Darren Sproles (Chargers)
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Even though Frank Gore is one of the better running backs in the league, do note that the 49ers ranked 19th in rushing yards last year.
With Gore being 28, I think it's in their best interest to lengthen his career by taking some of the burden off his shoulders and handing off some of the responsibility to someone else.
Darren Sproles has proven to be an excellent option as a change-of-pace back, and can really bring some versatility and allow for some creative play-calling on their offense.
I think he's going to be one of the undervalued players available come free agency, and the 49ers should really swoop down and pick him up.
FB Vonta Leach (Texans)
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There are some talks that Vonta Leach will be exploring his options in free agency, and the 49ers should pounce on that opportunity.
He's the best fullback in the game and would do wonders for their rushing attack. Need proof? Just take a look at what he did for the Texans last season as Arian Foster broke out as the league's leading rusher.
After having Owen Schmitt at Stanford, I'm sure Harbaugh will be looking to employ a powerful fullback in his offensive system. With Moran Norris being their current starter, they could certainly use an upgrade.
WR Malcom Floyd (Chargers)
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Whomever the starting quarterback may be, the 49ers need a big target for him to throw to, and Malcom Floyd would be exactly that.
At 6'5", 225 lbs., he's extremely athletic and would complement former first-round pick Michael Crabtree very well, allowing him to slide into the slot.
Floyd also has the uncanny ability to stretch the field vertically, as he posted a 19.4 yards per catch average.
He would open up this offense and bring yet another playmaker to work with in the passing attack.
LG Daryn Colledge (Packers)
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Guards often go under the radar, but there's no denying their value in both the running game as well in pass protection.
David Baas is set to be a free agent, so they may want to find a replacement.
With Mike Iupati already in the fold, they may not want to break the bank for a top-tier talent like Carl Nicks or Logan Mankins.
Colledge didn't perform as well as the Packers would've liked him to, and they have other options, so he will likely be on the market.
I think that makes him a good option here.
Veteran Offensive Lineman
Protecting your quarterback is almost as important as having one, and you can never have too much depth along the offensive line.
That is why I think they should look at a veteran to provide some security.
They're set at the starting positions, so there's no need to break the bank for anyone.
DE Shaun Ellis (Jets)
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Just as you can never have too many offensive lineman, the same principle applies for the other side of the ball.
Shaun Ellis' days as a starter may be numbered, but he can still serve as a quality rotation player, which is how he'd fit with the 49ers, possibly working around along their three-man front.
He's a prototypical five-technique defensive end and would fit well in their system.
NT Aubrayo Franklin (49ers)
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Aubrayo Franklin may not come back, which would leave a huge void at the interior of their defense. In order to prevent doing so, they must make it a top priority to re-sign him.
After all, having a dominant nose tackle is an integral key to success for all 3-4 defenses.
Not only does he demand double teams from blockers, but he penetrates through the backfield to make plays behind the line of scrimmage and get after the quarterback.
Of course, they can't afford to overpay him since he is 31 years old, nor can they allow negotiations to drag on like they did last year.
OLB Lamarr Woodley (Steelers)
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The 49ers had 44 sacks last season and invested this year's first-round pick in Aldon Smith. However, that's not to say they couldn't use a mega talent like LaMarr Woodley, who would give them a ferocious tandem off the edge.
Generating an effective pass rush is a critical key for success in the NFL today. Just take a look at this past year's two Super Bowl competitors, which ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in terms of sacks.
If the 49ers could get to that level, it would give them the edge they need to finally make the playoffs.
CB Nnamdi Asomugha
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I think the 49ers need to make one marquee signing this offseason, and Nnamdi Asomugha may be exactly what they need to elevate their defense to the next level.
Cornerback is the one position that the 49ers didn't address in the draft, so I expect them to go after someone in free agency.
Not to mention that signing him would allow them to let Nate Clements go, which would be a huge cap relief.