The NFL draft combine starts today, and as soon as something happens I’ll break it down for you.
Stanford tight end Coby Fleener will not run this week because he has a high ankle sprain, so we won’t know how fast he is until he runs at Stanford’s Pro Day on March 22. If he runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, he would be a good pick for the Niners with the 30th overall pick.
But that’s an issue for next month. For now, as we wait for combine action, let’s discuss Mike Wallace.
The 25-year old receiver is a restricted free agent of the Steelers, and they don’t have the cap space to resign him or franchise tag him. They’re probably going to lose him in free agency, but whoever signs Wallace will most likely have to give their first round draft pick to the Steelers. That’s how restricted free agency works.
Should the Niners try to sign Wallace, knowing he’ll demand a lot of money and cost the team a first round pick? I say, yes, and here’s why.
The Niners need a playmaker at wide receiver who is also a deep threat. That’s Wallace. He’s a Pro-Bowler. He’s the fastest player in the league according to Jim Harbaugh. He caught 24 TD passes in his first three seasons despite standing just six-feet tall. He averages 18.7 yards per reception. He’s better than any receiver the Niners could draft at the 30th overall pick.
The only way the Niners would really need that first round pick is if they couldn’t sign OLB Ahmad Brooks, because they don’t have a replacement for him on the roster.
If they do resign Brooks, they should also sign Wallace, as in, make him the No. 1 priority. For example, it would be smarter to sign Wallace to a big, long-term contract than Carlos Rogers, who’s 31-years-old and plays cornerback, a position at which the Niners feel strong.
Keeping Brooks and getting Wallace and losing Rogers and a first round pick is a great trade for the Niners.
Here’s the question: Could Alex Smith, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman use Wallace effectively? I say, yes, again. They like to call a few deep-shot plays every game. I’m sure they wish they could draw those plays up for Mike Wallace instead of Delanie Walker.
When Smith throws those deep passes, often he looks as if he’s throwing the ball as far as he can. He doesn’t want to throw an interception, so he out-throws the coverage and counts on the receiver to catch up. Kyle Williams couldn’t catch up to Smith’s bomb in the NFC championship game, but it’s pretty hard to overthrow Wallace, who’s about as fast as DeSean Jackson.
Wallace and the Niners are a match that makes sense.