The 49ers won’t spend a lot on outside free agents

Here’s a very interesting tidbit from the great Mike Sando on Trent Baalke’s free agency philosophy.

Sando asked Baalke at the Combine when is the right time for an NFL team to spend a lot of money on an outside free agent? And here’s what Baalke said:

“There’s reasons why we don’t do it and I’m not going to get into those reasons of why we operate the way we do. It’s just our own philosophy. But if you are asking me when is the right time, I don’t know that there is a right time. It is really an individual question for the 32 people making the decisions across the NFL for their own team. … The model that we use isn’t much different than certain other people in the National Football League that have been successful. Does it guarantee us that we are going to have success? Each year is a new year. But we’re going to be very consistent with how we operate.”

So, the Niners do not invest heavily on outside free agents as a rule, according to Baalke. Good to know. That declaration rules out the top available wideouts for the Niners – Mike Wallace, Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, and Stevie Johnson.

Last year, their biggest free agent splurge was Carlos Rogers, to whom they gave a one year, $4.25 million contract. They also signed Donte Whitner to a 3 year, $11.75 million contract. It appears Baalke feels most comfortable offering around $4 million per year max to other teams’ free agents.

Here are some wide receivers the 49ers could sign for that kind of money:

  • Plaxico Burress – Would have to agree to a cheap, one-year deal. He’d only play when the Niners were near the opponent’s goal line.
  • Pierre Garçon – Not tall (6’0”), but he’s young (25) and fast. May want more money than Baalke is willing to give.
  • Mario Manningham – Probably will want more money than Garçon, so he’ll probably be out of the Niners price range. He’s on the fringe, though.
  • Robert Meachem – Big (6’2”) and fast and relatively young (27). Like Garçon and Manningham, will probably be paid No. 2 receiver money on the market, which may be more than Baalke is willing to spend. But Meachem would probably be the cheapest of those options.
  • Laurent Robinson – Big (6’2”), young (26) and he caught 11 touchdowns last year (11). The Cowboys say they want to re-sign him.
  • Eddie Royal – Would be a replacement for Kyle Williams and/or Ted Ginn Jr. Caught 91 passes as a 22-year-old rookie four seasons ago. Also returns punts and kicks.
  • Reggie Wayne – Old (33). Still one of the best receivers on this list. May be willing to sign with the Niners for a shot to win another Super Bowl.

Would you be satisfied if the Niners 2012 wide receiving corps consists of Michael Crabtree, Joshua Morgan, one of these free agents, a second or third round draft pick and Ted Ginn Jr.?

To me, that seems like a mediocre group.

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