Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports



The San Francisco 49ers front office has been greatly criticized in recent months and the new coaching staff hasn't been given much credit either. All we have seen so far was a egotistical front office and a downgrade among the team's coaches. On Thursday however, the 49ers management and coaching staff made a bold early impact on the upcoming 2015 season that may be a good start to changing the minds of even the most critical of judgers.

The 49ers were able to lure defensive lineman Darnell Dockett from the Arizona Cardinals, who had cut him the previous week in a money saving move. The Cardinals had always hoped to bring Dockett back at a reduced salary, offering him a one-year $2.5 million deal with the opportunity to earn another $1.5 million in incentives, but it was the 49ers who swooped in and snatched him away from their grasp.

It wasn't just Arizona and San Francisco that was showing interest in Dockett. Apparently, the entire NFC West was interested. The Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams wanted to talk with Dockett.

After meeting with the 49ers in Santa Clara earlier this week and spending a couple of days deciding between Arizona and San Francisco, Dockett finally agreed to a 2-year $7.5 million deal with $2 million guaranteed.

Why is this such a big deal other than the fact that the move solidifies a defensive line that got rid of Ray McDonald and still awaits an announcement on whether or not Justin Smith will return? It is huge because it means that even with a new coaching staff and the tarnished image fans have of team management, the 49ers can still lure in big names. It also sheds off the image that team management is cheap and didn't want to invest in winning. It was even revealed that 49ers players were reaching out to Dockett and were lobbying for him to come to the Bay Area.

The Dockett decision may have been surprising to Cardinals fans. In May of 2010, prior to signing his final deal in Arizona, Dockett was asked by a fan on Twitter what he would do if the 49ers ever offered him a big free-agent contract. He responded with, "ill take less and go play with Pete carrol seattle!"

So many were worried that the 49ers would not be able to attract free agents because of recent events and the perception that the coaching staff was rather unorthodox. The coaching staff does have a good deal of experience, but it's not necessarily a good deal of experience in the positions that they currently hold — save some of the names on the list. However, what they proved today was that they are confident and experienced enough to bring in a name like Dockett and keep him away from an NFC West rival. They are great recruiters because they were able to sell the 49ers to Dockett and eliminate any reservations he might have had about joining the organization. As for management, they are still able to quickly work out (hopefully) financially sound deals. All of this is fantastic news as the team gears up to head into free agency, which begins on Tuesday.

It was a move that the 49ers needed. They needed to show fans that they are just as devoted to winning as they were with the past regime. It will be interesting to see what the team does with the rest of the offseason. The new league year hasn't even started yet and the team has brought in a strong pass rusher in Dockett and hosted a visit with return specialist and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. They have also lured in rugby superstar Jarryd Hayne to play running back and compete on special teams, when up until the final moments, it looked like he would pick the Detroit Lions. That was not necessarily big news in the states, but huge news in Australia.

The only handicap the team may have is sufficient salary cap space to be more aggressive. The team is still likely to renegotiate some current contracts in an effort to clear up a little more space.

As for the 33-year old Dockett, he will make $4 million in his first year, which is less than the $6.55 million that he was scheduled to make in the final year of his contract with Arizona. He has amassed 459 tackles, 40.5 sacks, four interceptions and seven forced fumbles during his career. In 2013, Dockett had 46 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He missed the 2014 season with a torn right ACL after getting his foot stuck in the turf at the University of Phoenix Stadium during practice in August. Before that, he missed just two games in his first 10 NFL seasons.

The nice thing about this signing is that since he was a released player, he will not count against the 49ers in next year's compensatory-pick formula.

Dockett will play end in the 49ers' 3-4 defense but will move inside on third downs. He already has a friend on the team in tight end Vernon Davis. The two grew up around Washington, D.C. and even engaged in a little trash talking on Twitter that made headlines back in 2010.

What will be the 49ers' next big move? Will they dive into free agency and try to lure another big name or will they — as they typically do — wait until the dust settles on high priced free agents and go after guys with some possible upside? Today's acquisition has to make you more excited and confident in what this team can do during the offseason.