The point of this offseason — any offseason, really — is to make sure that each position is at least as strong as it was a year ago. With Dashon Goldson leaving the San Francisco 49ers for Tampa Bay, and Craig Dahl the only incoming free agent safety the 49ers have signed so far, the position of free safety is significantly weaker than before.
At today’s local pro day, Trent Baalke talked about Charles Woodson, the 36-year-old safety who’s probably headed to the Hall of Fame but hasn’t received much attention from teams other than San Francisco.
“We had a great visit with Charles when he was in here, certainly you look at what Charles had done throughout his career — he’s had a tremendous career,” Baalke said. “We feel he still can play the game. That’s something we’re going to continue to look at. We’ll see how the draft goes and everything else. Charles is someone that we’re certainly still interested in.”
Here’s the problem: the 49ers are only $1,036,927 under the cap according to Over The Cap, and Spotrac says they only have $894,855 in cap space. Since the minimum salary for a player with 10+ years of experience is $940,000,
the 49ers would probably have to rework someone’s contract or cut a player in order to bring in Woodson. Since Woodson left Santa Clara without a deal a month ago, it’s probably safe to assume he’s holding out for more than the veteran’s minimum.
(Update: Good point made by Nate in the comments about the “Top 51 rule,” which I probably shouldn’t have forgotten since I wrote about it on March 24. Since only the top 51 players count against the cap, adding Woodson would knock Trenton Robinson’s $507,625 cap number off the books. So the 49ers could easily sign Woodson to the veteran’s minimum if he was agreeable to such a deal.)
The 49ers General Manager also said two other things of note:
What does it all mean? Will Baalke actually draft based on need? Why trust anything he says?
Current 49ers safeties
Back to the point made in the first paragraph: as it stands now, the 49ers are not as strong at safety as they were last season, and drafting someone like Jonathan Cyprien, Eric Reid, Matt Elam or even Kenny Vaccaro on the first day of the NFL Draft won’t change that. So either the 49ers think Dahl is a lot better than pretty much everyone else who watches football, or they’re going to figure out a way to sign Woodson. Alright, there’s one more option: going with an idea I mentioned in February, March and now once again in April: move Chris Culliver to free safety.
And speaking of things that have been mentioned several times, I promise this will be the last post about Woodson unless he signs with the 49ers. This is getting ridiculous.