No team’s roster remains the same from August to December. There’s too much turnover due to injuries, too many on-field performance issues that don’t come to be known until the bell rings in early September, prompting changes.
Yet as the 2011 NFL season gets under way, you have to wonder if San Francisco 49er fans are wondering why general manager Trent Baalke seems to be sitting on his hands. The Niners haven’t signed any name players other than their draft picks. They have secured the services of defensive end Ray McDonald as well as quarterback Alex Smith—contracts that had to be done, to be sure, to limit the losses the team has already suffered.
Yet with the loss of linebacker Takeo Spikes and center David Baas to go along with the release of cornerback Nate Clements (which many fans consider addition by subtraction), the Niners don’t look any stronger on paper than they did in mid January.
At the same time, to read about teams like the Eagles signing head-of-class free agent Nnamdi Asomugha or the Jets adding Plaxico Burress to the team can make fans more than a little anxious. What about us?
Indeed, but to Baalke’s defense, it’s still early in the free-agent game. There’s still more churn to consider, and the signed veteran free agents like Smith can’t practice until Aug. 4. In the meantime, ardent followers of the 49ers have to sit back and consider the following state of the team. Put another way, here’s grading the 49ers' 2011 pre-camp signings.*
* With the caveat of “so far.” Things are sure to change.