Monday, July 18, 2011

NFL Free Agency 2011: 5 Realistic Options for the San Francisco 49ers

If there was a team hurt by the NFL Lockout the most, it would be the San Francisco 49ers. A new head coach with zero NFL coaching experience and only one quarterback signed on the roster would seem to imply trouble for the 49ers next season.

One good thing that did come from this lockout for the 49ers was the leadership of free agent QB Alex Smith.

Smith is not signed by San Francisco, yet he organized a training camp-like workout for all players on the roster this past month that seemed to signify another year of the 2005 No. 1 overall pick under center.

As if the 49ers had another option, though.

Smith and Harbaugh have seemed to hit it off this offseason, which can only be good news for the seemingly always disappointed 49er fan.

However, work still needs to be done for San Francisco this offseason, despite GM Trent Baalke refuting the idea.

The roster is by no means set, and the 49ers would be wise to be active once the lockout ends. Holes in the roster include the secondary and depth at wide receiver.

Here are five realistic options for the 49ers.

James Jones

The 49ers need another wide receiver and James Jones is a realistic free agent within San Francisco's realm of possibility.

Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal has given Jones a 20 percent chance of returning to the Green Bay Packers next season, which is good enough for teams to move in as soon as the lockout ends.

The only reason Jones is a legitimate possibility in San Francisco is because of location.

Jones has been working out and staying in NFL shape at his alma mater San Jose State University this summer. Coincidentally, the 49ers' Alex Smith-led workouts were at that same location.

Jones lives in San Jose, just minutes from the 49ers' Santa Clara headquarters, which may make it an easier transition from Super Bowl champ to NFC West chump next season.

Chris Carr

I know what you are thinking—not another Carr. The No. 1 overall disappointment that is David Carr is enough for one team.

However, the 49ers could use another cornerback regardless of his last name.

Carr has played six seasons in the NFL. You may recognize him from just across the bay in Oakland, or more notably from the shutdown defense that is the Baltimore Ravens.

The 27-year-old is an unrestricted free agent whenever the lockout ends and could help bolster a cornerback position that includes Nate Clements and Shawntae Spencer.

Carr had two interceptions and 61 tackles last season in Baltimore.

Carlos Rogers

Rogers is arguably the fifth or sixth best free agent at the cornerback position this offseason, which somehow puts him right in the 49ers' wheelhouse.

The 29-year-old made $1.5 million last season and is expected to make around the same next season. If the 49ers do not want to be major players in free agency, as they say, they can at least pick up a decent cornerback for a decent price that can help bolster a weary position in San Francisco.

Rogers had two interceptions and 54 tackles last season for the Washington Redskins.

Malcom Floyd

It would take a change of heart to go after wide receiver Malcolm Floyd in free agency this offseason. He and Vincent Jackson were major forces for Phillip Rivers and the Chargers last season, which would imply a pay raise for Floyd in free agency.

The 29-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but his $3.17 million salary last season may indeed need a spike.

The only knock against Floyd is the doubt as to how well he can play without star Vincent Jackson.

Either way, Floyd is a deep threat that the 49ers could very well use if they change their mind and dig deep in free agency.

Brent Grimes

Grimes was not supposed to play in the NFL after going undrafted out of Shippensburg University.

However, his athletic ability and shear determination to want the ball more has made him the fourth or fifth best free agent in the very talented cornerback class, highlighted by Nnamdi Asomugha and Jonathan Joseph.

Grimes is a restricted free agent, but the Falcons would be wise to re-sign such a diamond in the rough. They discovered him when all had given up on him and his NFL career.

It will take a lot to acquire Grimes, but if the 49ers choose to be active in free agency, they will make a play for the 27-year-old.

In 2010, Grimes had five interceptions and 87 tackles.

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