Now that the lockout is over, let’s look ahead to free agency, which starts this week. Who will the 49ers sign?
Alex Smith, for starters. Smith stated in a text message this morning he won’t hesitate to sign with 49ers. So we can count on him.
Who else? The 49ers first have to decide which of their own players to resign. The big names are: MLB Takeo Spikes, S Dashon Goldson, C David Baas, NT Aubrayo Franklin, and LDE Ray McDonald.
Trent Baalke also has to either restructure CB Nate Clements contract or cut him, and he if he has any room under the new $120.4 million cap, he can sign an unrestricted free agent or two.
If you were Trent Baalke, what would your strategy be for free agency? How would you prioritize your moves? What would you do first? Who would be the most important player to sign?
I would sign Baas and McDonald first, because they’re relatively cheap, and I’d let Franklin and Goldson walk. Franklin is good, but he’s going to be expensive, and I’d rather move the 330 lb. Isaac Sopoaga to NT and play McDonald at LDE.
Instead of paying Franklin and Goldson big bucks, I’d try to resign Manny Lawson. If signing Lawson meant the 49ers would also have to lose Spikes and Clements, I’d sign him. Lawson is terrific at “setting the edge” against the run and at covering tight ends. He’d be a perfect complement to Aldon Smith as an 3-4 outside linebacker, because Smith’s specialty is rushing the quarterback.
Two unrestricted free agents I’d try to sign are CB Richard Marshall from Carolina and WR James Jones from Green Bay. If the 49ers cut Clements they need to replace him, and Marshall is young and inexpensive. He’ll do until the 49ers draft the real replacement with their No. 1 pick in 2012. As far as Jones goes, he’d fit perfectly on the 49ers, who desperately need a bigger, more explosive wide receiver.
I would not spend a lot of money on a backup quarterback. I think Colin Kaepernick will pick up the offense quicker than expected and he’ll give Alex Smith all the competition he can handle.
Do you agree? What would you do?
Harbaugh is talking to the media at 3:00 p.m. today. I’m on my way to Santa Clara, and I’ll get back to you later.
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