Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the San Francisco 49ers. [full archive here].
Season Recap – The 49ers began the season as favorites to win the NFC West, yet never rebounded from a 0-5 start. Though Mike Singletary had all the intangibles of becoming a successful head coach, he failed to produce many victories during his two seasons on the sidelines. Singletary was fired after a 6-10 finish and San Francisco was able to reel in the hottest coaching candidate on the market: Jim Harbaugh. With Harbaugh comes most of his staff of the 2011 Orange Bowl champion Stanford Cardinals. Harbaugh made a pledge to get San Francisco back to the days of the Walsh Era and will have a full plate in front of him this offseason.
1. Quarterback – Harbaugh had the luxury of working with star Quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford and will need to find a similar talent to duplicate the success with San Francisco. Currently only 2002 number one overall pick David Carr is on the roster, and everyone knows he is not the answer. There has been speculation that Harbaugh is interested in resigning Alex Smith, but that remains to be seen. San Francisco could also attempt to make a run for Philadelphia Eagle Kevin Kolb, who supposedly is on the trade block, but would come at a high cost. If San Francisco makes no moves in free agency or through a trade, look for them to select either a QB in the first or second round. Personally, I believe Jake Locker fits the bill at #7 overall.
2. Defensive End – Besides Justin Smith, San Francisco doesn’t have much at the 5-technique position. The defense has capable playmakers like Pat Willis, yet still lacks the presence needed up front. If the 49ers decide to pass on a QB in round one, they may decide to take a end- JJ Watt and Cam Jordan are two prospects that would fill their needs.
3. Cornerback – In 2007, San Francisco shocked the nation by signing Nate Clements to a then-record 8-year $80 million deal. Clements, now 31, has significantly lost a step and is on the downside of his career. The 49ers could make another big signing in free agency, or sit and hope either Pat Peterson or Prince Amukamara falls to #7.
4. Free Safety – Strong Safety Taylor Mays was taken in the second round last year and looks to be the part, but now needs a partner in the defensive secondary. This is not a great safety class, but San Francisco could potentially find their guy in the middle rounds.
5. Outside Linebacker – Star ILB Pat Willis is one of the best in the game, but lacks much help in the Linebacker core. Parys Haralson and Ahmad Brooks are good players but an upgrade would be ideal, especially with 2006 first round pick Manny Lawson set to become a free agent. Resigning Lawson is a possibility, but he still hasn’t become quite the star San Francisco imagined. The 49ers should take a long look at prospects Brooks Reed and Jeremy Beal in the 2nd round.