NT - Soap is solid but we could find an upgrade. He hasn't been clogging the middle like he was last year and I feel his age is starting to show. I think he can resign for less than he currently makes, and we should either draft a young NT to groom and compete with RJF, or if he doesn't sign pick up a free agent. Two potential young free agents would be DT Henry Melton (CHI) and NT Terrance Knighton (JAC). Both are young with a high ceiling playing at a relatively high level right now. Unfortunately they could demand a lot of attention on the open market and cost more than were willing to spend. If we don't sign someone, I feel this is the position we should draft with our first besides BPA.
DE- We are solid here at the moment, but J. Smith isn't getting younger and Ray Mac hasn't been collapsing the pocket as well as he did last year. A young DE that fits our 3-4 scheme with potential is a must in this years draft. Nice part is he won't be forced to play early and we could use a late round pick and hopefully find a sleeper for this. The best available free agent in my eyes would be DE Michael Johnson (CIN). He is a physical freak at 6'7, 270 pound with terrific athleticism and could boost our pass rush. Production comes with a hefty price tag tho.
OLB - Aldon and Brooks are solid. Better than solid, they're great. Still, I feel Brooks makes too many mental mistakes that cost the team and isn't worth his price tag except when he has those streaks of 3 plays in a row making the stop. We could upgrade this position, but again it is not a necessity since the rookies from this year haven't even had a chance to show what they have to offer. OLB Connor Barwin (HOU) if a free agent next year, but will be a little bit over our budget. But a guy can dream can't he.We also need a guy to fill the void left by special teams ace Costanzo. Dixon is good and goes all out, but I feel we could use his roster spot for someone with more talent and production.
C/OL - Goodwin isn't a FA after this season but is getting up there in years. Even if we resign him, we need to find a replacement to groom before it is too late. We could also use the OL depth and a Jack of all trades that could fill any position on the OL in case of injury would be a dream come true. Also, having a gang of beefy OL would allow us to run more heavy sets by utilizing more talented and beefy monsters to overpower and wear down opposing defenses while rotating fresh lineman to overpower and wear them down. I miss our shifting power run game out of the jumbo formations. There are a bunch of dynamite OL that will be on the market this off season, but we have so much invested in ours already we can't afford to sign one of them and would be better off grooming and mid round pick that could step in on occasion if someone's hurt or just need a breather.
TE - VD has been stuck blocking too much these days, but when the game is on the line he will show up. He's proven that. It's time to get someone to help take the pressure off him. We need a TE with the blocking skills that can fill that role and would allow VD to stay in for protection less and run routes more. I like Delanie, but we need that big bodied blocking specialist that can go out for patterns and use his body to box out defenders and catch the ball. D. Walker could be one of those players that cashes in due to his flexibility and playing in Vernon's shadow. This guy would either compete or replace Delanie. Heath Miller is getting old, but we need someone like him.
FS - the Hawk is in the last year of his deal. Can we afford him and how much is he worth? If not we lose our top defensive play maker and trying to fill this slot would be nearly impossible to fill. The Hawk is by far our biggest priority to resign. There are two good safeties coming out this year, but no guarantees they'd be as good as the hawk. It's a risk not worth taking and it would also mean we would need to use our first pick on a safety to get a viable starter, which would also put the pressure on us to draft for need instead of BPA. Goldson is the best safety of the free agent class, but if we cannot afford there are a couple viable replacements that could come with a cheaper price tag since Goldson can demand a lucrative deal since he's the best free agent safety this year, we might not be able to afford him and he could still feel burned over the franchise tag.
Fortunately there is an abundance of blue chip safeties with contracts expiring this year. First there is my favorite DB of all time, and has little to no chance at all. Ed Reed (BAL) will be a free agent, but the vibe is hell either resign with Baltimore or retire.
The other two I like are William Moore (ATL) and Jairus Byrd (BUF) with Byrd being my preferance due to his ball hawking nature and also we have our intimidating stack the box and punch them in the teeth Whitner. I think there is no way Byrd hits the market, but Whitner and Byrd's skill set compliment each others well. Goldson still trumps them all since he is so well rounded and Byrd isn't as good a hitter and is more cover guy.
K - Akers has been horribly inconsistent and we should at the very least bring in a solid kicker to compete and light a fire under Nedney's ass. After being nearly prefect last year, he's not even hit 70% of his fg tries this year. He cost us the game against the Rams with a miss, and continually grows more inconsistent. We need a back up plan!
Return specialist - A great return specialist allows us to let Gin walk, and activate Jenkins. We could potentially find a great return guy that actually fills another position of need on the team like DB. LMJ and Kyle Williams could also perform this duty without much drop off, but K, Williams makes me nervous if we were to depend on him and would prefer he remain a slot receiver.
WR: Fast, big bodied deep threat that can make the jumpball catches in traffic like Moss or V. Jackson. Would love for Moss to find a protechee with similar abilities for him to take under his wing and groom.
CB: Our secondary is solid, but we could always use a shutdown corner and someone to challenge our starters.
OLB: Need pass rushing depth. Maybe even a 4-3 DE for Nickel that can line up opposite of Aldon.
Will Roman or Fangio be back or will the get better job offers?
Goldson - He has grown into one of the elite safeties in the league and if he walks it could take us a long time to replace him with a player of his talent/caliber. If we resign anyone, it should be this guy. Lock him up!
Randy Moss - Dude has been a role model and nothing but positive for our team.I think he loves this team.
Isaac Soapoaga - He has been solid but only resign him at the right price and try to get the hey, were close to Hawaii hometown discount.
Bowman might need to have his deal redone and hes earned it. Don't know if we can afford to keep him and Willis. If Bowman walks, hopefully we'll still have Grant.
Hope it was a good read and you enjoyed it. I'd love to hear what you think, and how your opinions differentiate from mine so please contribute and post. Also, if you guys know any potential draft prospects that we could get or think we should get let me know so I can check them out. 49ers 4 life!!!!
[ Edited by NTeply49 on Nov 12, 2012 at 5:09 PM ]