Not to be forgotten during the most fun, multifaceted and chaotic sports day of my life: the first day of NFL free agency! It wasn’t enough that I’m in Scottsdale for Spring Training, interviewing San Francisco Giants and trying to find my way around this crazy, spread-out valley for the first time. The Warriors made their biggest trade involving Stephen Jackson since the first trade they made involving Stephen Jackson.
The Niners made a little news today, too.
NFL teams were allowed to sign unrestricted free agents at 1 pm on Tuesday, five minutes before Madison Bumgarner threw his first pitch. That’s when people stopped worrying about Randy Moss (old news!) and started complaining because Josh Morgan signed with the Washington Redskins.
A lot more happened throughout the day (including the Dolphins trading Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for two third rounders, a trade that would’ve made almost as much sense for the Niners as the Bears), and the night was capped by more news I have to admit I wasn’t expecting:
What Clayton tweeted isn’t technically true, since Aldon Smith was an oft-used reserve who gained playing time throughout the year. Parys Haralson (still under contract for $2.75 million next season) was one of the 11 starters last season, but he might be out of the picture when all is said and done.
Still, Rogers’ return (he signed a 4-year contract for somewhere around $30 million) is fantastic news for the 49ers, a team that didn’t enjoy much stability during their “lost almost-decade” stretching from 2003 to 2010. Everyone’s back (on the defense). It doesn’t mean they’ll have the best turnover margin in the NFL last season, but as last season went on it was less about fluky late-game turnovers, more about relentless quarterback pressure and a secondary that looked better and deeper as the season went on.
Put it this way: life without Rogers in 2012 would’ve seemed catastrophic in Week 10 of the 2011 season, and after the year ended it didn’t seem like it’d be so bad if the 49ers had Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver as their starting cornerbacks — as long as they signed another free agent cornerback and drafted at least one CB in April. They still might; with many NFL offenses going to spread-like formations on a regular basis teams can never have too many cover guys. But with the 49ers’ best cornerback from 2011, a guy who made 2nd-team All-Pro, things look a lot rosier.
In other 49ers-related news…
— Blake Costanzo seemed like the heart and soul of the Tony Montana unit, and the Chicago Bears signed him away on Tuesday. It’s too bad, but it’s telling who the 49ers did sign. C.J. Spillman and Tavares Gooden were a couple less-heralded special teams stars in 2011, and they’ll be back (Spillman was signed about a week ago, and Gooden was brought back on Tuesday). What’s the difference? Maybe the 49ers aren’t quite as psychotic about special teams as Costanzo, who doesn’t do anything else. Spillman can play safety as well, and Gooden might see more time at linebacker in 2012, especially if Larry Grant signs elsewhere.
— Chaz Shillens? Whatever. Brandon Lloyd might come back? Yet another direction I thought the 49ers wouldn’t go. Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh, I officially cry “uncle.” I already know I’m a lowly blogger, but I admit I have absolutely no idea what you’ll do next. You could sign Tiki Barber at this point and I wouldn’t be surprised. (Yes, that was a blatant attempt at making sure the 49ers do NOT sign Tiki Barber.)
— I wrote this on Twitter, and the offer still stands. I’m serious. If I get access to the Niners next season I promise I’ll ask this question and pay MYSELF the straight cash. Homie.