So much for the 49ers signing a well known free agent who isn’t a kicker. At least so far, the Niners’ relatively passive foray into what was drummed up to be the most frantic free agency signing period ever has frustrated fans to the point where #SuckForLuck has already become a hashtag. Aubrayo Franklin isn’t signing with the 49ers after all. He’s actually going to New Orleans, according to Adam Schefter.
Lots of things at play here, but I sincerely doubt the 49ers are tanking. Rebuilding? Sure. Getting rid of the so-called talent on last year’s 49ers squad, guys who Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke maybe don’t feel are as skilled as many made them out to be? Probably. But to think their plan at the very beginning of camp is to put together as crappy a team as possible to get Harbaugh’s boy from Stanford? Ridiculous.
Here’s four reasons why:
1. The best free agents want to sign with the teams that already know what they’re doing.
I made a comment about this on Twitter, but I’ll repeat it here. Players know that with a shortened training camp, the smart money is on the teams that were good last year, with established coaches, proven systems on both sides of the ball and a solid core of veteran guys who’ve played together for some time. Unless Jed York morphed into Daniel Snyder during the lockout and started throwing money at guys, free agents with options usually aren’t going to go with the 6-10 team with a new coach and no proven quarterback.
2. Speaking of the Redskins…
Since when did going all-in during free agency ensure Super Bowl contention? Harbaugh and Baalke at least deserve a chance to find guys who fit into what they’re trying to do, even if they aren’t guys you’d normally trade for on Madden. Signing free agents in the NFL is nothing like going after the top guys in the NBA or MLB. Just look at Tully Banta-Cain, who was okay as a Patriot, then pretty much worthless as a 49er, then went back to the Patriots and had 10 sacks in 2009. Lots of good football players are wasted in systems that don’t give them an opportunity to shine.
3. The NFC West is still not a good division.
Despite the other three teams being more active in free agency so far, what reason do we have to believe the 49ers are suddenly going to have to deal with a team on the level of the Packers, Saints, Eagles, Falcons, or even the Giants? Sure, it might have been more interesting and a fresh start to have Kevin Kolb around instead of Alex Smith, but there’s no guarantee Kolb will be a great quarterback.
4. This isn’t over yet.
If the 49ers add Carlos Rogers, Malcom Floyd, Olin Kruetz and re-sign Dashon Goldson, the complaining you hear from 49ers fans will be much quieter, if not completely muted.