We’ve been pretty complimentary of the San Francisco 49ers’ personnel decisions in this space. Not the ones made by McNolan and Mike Singletary, but everything that’s happened since Jim Harbaugh became the head coach and Trent Baalke officially became the General Manager. Great stuff, all of it.
That’s why the 49ers re-signing Brett Swain seems weird, because it’s unlike any of the rest of the moves they’ve made this off-season. It isn’t exciting, or even interesting, on any level. The idea that they got a good deal is moot, because Swain seems like a guy who’d be more at home in the Arena League. Sure, he’s a decent player. The Green Bay Packers wouldn’t have kept him around as long as they did if he didn’t show them something, but he didn’t show any of us a lot after he came to San Francisco.
And at the end of last season, the Niners needed Swain to do something. Fair? Probably not, but beyond catching 2 passes during the last few weeks of the regular season, Swain didn’t stand out for any reason besides his physical appearance.
He also didn’t appear to run his full route on a long fade pattern that ended up being an Alex Smith overthrow in the Saints game, but whatever. He shouldn’t have been in that game in the first place, and if it weren’t for injuries to Josh Morgan and Braylon Edwards (both mental and physical, in Edwards’ case), Swain wouldn’t have seen the field in 2011.
The question now is: why did the 49ers sign Swain? He didn’t look particularly dynamic as a 49er, and since the postseason the Niners have signed Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and brought back Ted Ginn. Is Swain a particularly good special teams player? According to Pro Football Focus he made 7 special teams tackles in 2010. Perhaps the 49ers felt like they were deficient in the “long-haired white guy” department, although that group seems to be more linebacker-heavy throughout the rest of the league.
Okay, I’m rambling. I have no idea why they signed Swain, besides maybe his background (Carlsbad High School, San Diego State) means at some point in the past Harbaugh witnessed Swain in person and liked what he saw. Or maybe the 49ers were desperate for a cheap headline to steal the San Francisco Giants’ Opening Day thunder (don’t think it worked). Do you, dear reader, have any ideas? I’m tapped out.