This may come as a very unpopular take but I don't want Whitner back. And not b/c he's not a good player and doesn't bring a ton of intangibles but for a variety of other reasons:
1. He's capped out. He's certainly not going to get any better.
2. He continues to get abused in coverage in big games (esp. playoffs and Superbowls); inexcusable as a veteran in the Superbowl and NFCCG.
3. He's short (no vertical) and is easily boxed out, one-armed by the bigger, slot WR's and TE's. The timing of his jumps are poor often as well and many times he struggles even getting his head turned around. He also continued to blow some coverages (as he admitted) in the regular season and took some poor angles in run support (cost us points).
4. D/t his inability to cover, Fangio has to keep both S's deep...very deep...like 35-40 yards deep to keep everything in front of him/them and they STILL got beat by Baldwin who got behind them for a critical bomb in the NFCCG. Simply, any h/w done on Seattle (a WELL known foe) indicates that when Wilson is scrambling around, that ball always goes for a deep jump ball. Every time. Reid, this may be somewhat understandable as a rookie, but Whitner has zero excuse here.
5. Contract year. Remember when Rogers played lights out in his contract year? He had 6 INT's that year, undercutting routes, etc. He's had 3 total since then. This is Whitner's contract year so most likely, it's only down hill from here (even though he plays harder than the half-assed Rogers).
6. SS-type. Whitner is your old-school prototypical in-the-box (extra LB) SS. In today's passing NFL, you need coverage S's. It's great if they can be big hitters like in Seattle too but what separates them is their quickness, athleticism, play recognition, the ability to line up anywhere, speed, range and abiity to make plays on the ball (and still be sure-tacklers). Reid is becoming this guy for us right now. Back in the day, Walsh brought in the two biggest/tallest CB/S tandem in the draft (Wright/Lott). Seattle has copied this mold thanks to Carroll's experience with us. Just an FYI.
7. Development/Scheme. Is Whitner our 3-year future? And how does his presence on the field affect our scheme? Wouldn't it be better to have another FS-like S with Reid-abilities teamed together? This may dumb-down the coverage scheme on the field a bit to start the year but it will also most likely increase the play of everyone around them. For instance, if you have two rangy S's like Reid who you can line up anywhere (and not keep them camped out 40+ yards deep), it allows your two CB's to play to their strengths; Culliver and Brock, to play tight, physical, man-press on the edges.
8. Effects on the LB's. What's everyone's biggest concern about our ILB's? That they are constantly stuck in underneath and single coverage and not allowed to play down hill or even blitz much. Was it Whitner and Reid covering Seattle's TE in the NFCCG? Nope...it was Bowman. Knee blown. 2-free ranging S's allow the CB's and LB's to play to their strengths and this hold's true in Seattle as well. Not only can their CB's play rape-press coverage (or simple Cover 3 and that's it) on the outside but they can even isolate a S or LB to "spy" on CK at the same time.
9. Cap. I don't know what Whitner is asking for but it's not going to be cheaper than a top-notch rookie. That money could be used to help in CK and Aldon negotiations. We'll also have this rookie for 4-5 years for next to nothing in comparison. If Baalke can hit on Reid so boldly (which means, he knew what he wanted in a S), no doubt he can do it again this draft.
This isn't to dismiss Whitner as a good S for us and a great Niner but thinking more immediate and LT future here. These are just some things a FO has to consider before negotiating a LT contract with one of our own...whether we can afford it now or not, there is much more to consider.
[ Edited by NCommand on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:53 AM ]