What, you were expecting Mike Wallace? If that was the case, you haven’t been paying attention. Trent Baalke didn’t jump ahead of everyone to throw big dollars at famous players on the first day of free agency a year ago, and it appears he’ll exercise that same strategy today. Let the teams that need to reenergize downtrodden fans (Miami Dolphins, hello!) overspend on players most people have heard of. The San Francisco 49ers are more than happy to wait things out and strike when they see value.
It also appears that they might not re-sign any of their unrestricted free agents, at least not the ones garnering interest from multiple teams from the outset of free agency. Delanie Walker is now a member of the Tennessee Titans, where he’ll block for Chris Johnson and attempt to catch passes from Jake Locker, one of the most inaccurate starting quarterbacks in the NFL. And you thought he had a tough time catching passes before.
Walker’s new four-year, $17.5 million contract includes $8.6 million guaranteed. As valuable and versatile as Walker is, that kind of money doesn’t make sense when the 49ers have so many picks. It’s the “best TE draft class in years” according to Adam Caplan, and whoever the 49ers take will make a fraction of what the Titans gave Walker.
Isaac Sopoaga signed with the Eagles for $12 million ($5 million guaranteed). Ricky Jean-Francois has several teams interested, including the Eagles (who have a nasty case of Niners envy). Dashon Goldson is flying out to talk with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and a long-term deal could be announced as soon as Wednesday.
Randy Moss is gone for sure. Ted Ginn is almost surely done as a 49er. There’s a possibility that guys like Leonard Davis, Tavares Gooden and Larry Grant could return at reasonable salaries, although Grant probably wants to go somewhere he’ll have a chance to play.
So what do you do when other teams overvalue your own players? Find former first-rounders who never reached their potential, something the 49ers have done repeatedly since Baalke took over. Carlos Rogers wasn’t bad with the Washington Redskins, but the 49ers thought they could make the former ninth pick overall better. Donte Whitner was the eighth pick in the 2006 draft, so it was easy to say, “Adios, Taylor Mays.”
So it should come as no surprise that the 49ers invited Glenn Dorsey to Santa Clara for a visit. Dorsey, the fifth pick overall in 2008, only played four games last season for the Kansas City Chiefs and was placed on injured reserve in November. He was durable in his first four years, only missing two games, but (let’s say it together) he never lived up to the hype.
After getting all they could from Sopoaga (who’s on the downside of his career anyway) and Jean-Francois (a solid player with nowhere near the physical tools of a guy like Dorsey), this signing would make almost too much sense.
And just as I’m getting ready to wrap this post up…
If I’m not mistaken, Heyward-Bey (seventh overall in 2009) and Huff (seventh overall in 2006) are two high first-round picks who aren’t exactly busts, but certainly could be considered disappointments during their time in Oakland. Don’t be surprised if both players make trips to Santa Clara in the coming days.
Oh, and Charles Woodson is coming in for a visit. He’s a high first-rounder, but his career has been far from disappointing.