The 49ers were one of the more active teams when the free agency market officially opened Tuesday at 4:00 pm EST. Niners fans knew that Carlos Rogers would be released and feared Donte Whitner would depart as well. There is also the uncertainty of the teams best cornerback, Tarell Brown leaving as his market value increases. But San Fran countered these departures by signing Super Bowl winning rookie Safety with the Colts Antoine Bethea who has proved to be of great value to his team as he has a knack for getting to the ball at the most crucial times. That's why he's made the Pro Bowl twice, on what has been a sub-par defense overall for years.
Bethea will replace Whitner which is an upgrade in my opinion. Donte Whitner has become famous for his punishing blows on the opposing offense and thus wants to legally change his name to Donte Hitner in light of all the fines he received from the NFL on personal foul calls. Whitner constantly blew coverage when he was called upon to maintain the deepest part of the field and not allow the ball to go over your head. Bethea will be much better in passing situations although he can't hit as hard as Hitner who should probably be playing Linebacker anyway. That's up to the Cleveland Browns now.
Eric Wright showed progress and signed a 1 year deal to come back to San Fran and Tramaine Brock in particular showed us that he can be a solid Corner-back at the pro level. The key will be whether or not the Niners can re-sign Brown or go after another CB via trade, free agency or the draft. I've had Darrelle Revis on my radar for the past few weeks as a perfect landing spot for one of the leagues top defensive backs. He would fill a much needed void which seems to be the 49ers only weakness on defense. Nevertheless they will have depth at that position but the starters remain in question.
Offensively the Niners signed Anquan Boldin back for another season with the team as he was instrumental in the 49ers success last year where he single handily took over a few games. The man has super duper glue on his hands. Him along with Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis give them a great group of receivers. Anthony Dixon took many of the Niners short yardage and goal line carries throughout the season and he may be on the move as his rookie contract expired, leaving the team to ponder over re-signing him with Gore getting a bit older and Kendall Hunter perhaps not being ready or capable of carrying the load as he gets his fair share of injuries in already limited playing time.
The corner stone of any solid football team is the quarterback. But without his offensive line a QB is nothing. San Francisco seems to have their quarterback of the future in Colin Kaepernick and will eventually have to pay him serious cash because he will be highly coveted if he makes it to free agency in 2015. So in case he leaves franchise traded a 6th round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Blaine Gabbert (insert hysterical laughter). Hey the Niners do need depth there as Colt McCoy still remains a back up option. Like I said before, the QB needs his lineman to protect him. Much to my surprise the Niners traded for Jonathan Martin from the Dolphins for an undisclosed draft pick. The 49ers have a very solid offensive line, even top 5 or 6 in the entire NFL. But you can never get enough lineman and there is a link to this trade.
Jonathan Martin has been subjected to scrutiny and objectivity among the leaking of his debacle with the Miami Dolphins, in particular Richie Incognito. Before his pro days Martin played under current 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. Martin was selected by Miami in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft. Being reunited with his former college head coach will add a level of tranquility in his mind and hopefully peace in the locker room. Jonathan Martin may be a sensitive guy and his Dolphins disaster could have been a great life experience at young age to learn from his own mistakes and what he witnessed playing for the Dolphins.
The Niners also retained veteran kicker Phil Dawson who was absolutely awesome for the team last season. I know you're saying a kicker is awesome! Well he is because he was extremely clutch all last year by becoming the teams second leading score in points and field goals in a single season. He also set a record for 27 straight FG's made and was a perfect 7 for 7 in the playoffs.
The 49ers don't need much more help as they have excellent players all over the place. Unfortunately injuries occur, the salary cap becomes a factor and players will hold out at times until the team renegotiates his current contract. With all that in mind and being very realistic, I don't think the Niners are done this off-season just yet. They need to solidify their cornerbacks and build more depth around the line of scrimmage. Losing guys like Mike Iupati to injury or Joe Staley needing time off from his own wounds, is what ultimately led to the decision to bring in Jonathan Martin for a bargain price and they probably aren't done. They must also address the defensive line in their 3-4 scheme to get more big guys to clog up holes against the run game. And it would be nice to have a pass rusher opposite side of Aldon Smith but you can't get too greedy...unless you can afford to!