San Francisco 49ers Free Agency: Top 10 Players on the Team's Wishlist

Mihir Bhagat@mihirbhagatSenior Analyst IIIMay 23, 2011

San Francisco 49ers Free Agency: Top 10 Players on the Team's Wishlist

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots stands on the field during their 2011 AFC divisional playoff game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to throw the ball during pregame before taking on the Chicago Bears in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    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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    SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 12:  Darren Sproles #43 of the San Diego Chargers carries the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium on December 12, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    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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    GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 14:  Fullback Vonta Leach #44 of the Houston Texans rushes the ball during preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 14, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Tex
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    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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    SAN DIEGO - DECEMBER 05:  Michael Huff #24 of the Oakland Raiders breaks up a pass intended for wide receiver Malcolm Floyd #80 of the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2010 in San Diego, California. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 2
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    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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    GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 19: Daryn Colledge #73 of the Green Bay Packers blocks Kyle Williams #95 of the Buffalo Bills at Lambeau Field on September 19, 2010 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bills 34-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Im
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    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

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    PITTSBURGH, PA - CIRCA 2010: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Willie Colon of the Pittsburgh Steelers poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
    Handout/Getty Images

    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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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 27:  Shaun Ellis #92 of the New York Jets in action against the Washington Redskins  during their preseason game on August 27, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium  in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Imag
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    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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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks drops back to pass as Chris Spencer #65 and Ben Hamilton #50 defend against Aubrayo Franklin #92 of the San Francisco 49ers during the NFL season opener against at Qwest Field
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    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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    PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a sack against the New York Jets during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers won 24-19. (Photo
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    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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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Nnamdi Asomugha #21 of the Oakland Raiders stands on the sidelines during the closing minutes of their loss to the Miami Dolphins at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 28, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra S
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    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. 

    Asomugha would give them the shutdown corner they need to defend the elite receivers in the league including division rival Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald.

    Not to mention that signing him would allow them to let Nate Clements go, which would be a huge cap relief.