Potential free-agent WRs -- who's going where?


Potential free-agent WRs -- who's going where?

The deadline for each NFL team to declare its franchise player is Monday, at which point the focus will sharpen on the free-agent options for the 49ers at wide receiver.The free-agent signing period begins eight days later on Tuesday, March 13, at 1 p.m.Here is a rundown of some of the top wide receivers who remain unsigned for the 2012 season:Joshua Morgan, 49ers: There was some buzz about Morgan at the combine. If the 49ers do not sign him before March 13, several teams are expected to be interested. Jacksonville could be one of those teams. Jerry Sullivan is the new Jaguars receivers coach. He coached Morgan during his first three seasons with the 49ers. A source close to Morgan told CSNBayArea.com that "nothing is cooking" right now toward a new deal with the 49ers, but that can change in a hurry. He continues to show up nearly every day at the 49ers' practice facility to work out and rehab from his season-ending leg injury. He is on pace to take part in offseason practices without any restrictions.Ted Ginn, 49ers: He took a 1.2 million pay cut to remain with the 49ers for the 2011 season. In return, the 49ers tore up the final year of his contract to make him a free agent in 2012. It would seem that Ginn would at least take advantage of the opportunity to test the free-agent market.Vincent Jackson, San Diego: Of the big-time potential free agents, he might be the most likely to reach the open market. He caught just 60 passes last season, but he averaged 18.4 yards per reception and scored nine TDs. The Washington Post reports the Redskins plan to add a high-profile receiver, so they could drive up the price.Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh: There are reports the Steelers will not place the franchise tag (9.4 million) on the restricted free agent. Instead, they'll slap him with a first-round tender (2.7 million). Any team interested in signing Wallace to an offer sheet must be prepared to fork over a first-round pick to the Steelers as compensation. The 49ers pick No. 30 overall, so that price does not seem exorbitant. However, the contract it will take to sign Wallace could get pricey. The Steelers are in bad shape on the salary cap. So if a team puts a high first-year cap figure into Wallace's deal, there's little chance the Steelers would be able to match.Marques Colston, New Orleans: The Saints have two other players who appear to be in line for the franchise tag ahead of Colston: quarterback Drew Brees and guard Carl Nicks. That means Colston will likely be on the open market when free agency begins. He turns 29 in June, and last season he caught 80 passes for 1,143 yards (14.3 average) with eight touchdowns.Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City: With the Chiefs' recent signing of cornerback Stanford Routt, whom the Raiders released, it seems apparent Kansas City will not place the franchise tag on Brandon Carr. So Bowe is unlikely to hit the open market. The Chiefs are expected to franchise him.Wes Welker, New England: The Patriots are reportedly "likely" to use their franchise tag on him while the sides continue to work toward a long-term deal.Stevie Johnson, Buffalo: The Bills will not use their franchise tag on Johnson, the Buffalo News reports. Negotiations are ongoing, but at last report there was considerable distance between the sides. Johnson (6-2, 210) turns 26 in July. He caught 76 passes for 1,004 yards and seven TDs last season.DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia: There are multiple reports that the Eagles will use their franchise tag to restrict Jackson while also keeping their minds open to any trade possibilities. UPDATE: The Eagles announced Thursday that they had, in fact, made Jackson their franchie player.
Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis: He recently rejected a five-year contract offer from the Colts, ESPN reported. One report placed the dollar figure at 7 million annually. Reportedly, the Colts hope to re-sign Garcon or defensive end Robert Mathis and use the franchise tag on the other player.Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis: If Peyton Manning is able to play football in 2012, might he be teaming up again with Wayne? That would seem to make sense as the best place for Wayne, 33, who caught 75 passes for 960 yards last season without Manning.Mario Manningham, New York Giants: It looks as if he'll be hitting the open market. But Manningham disputes speculation that it's a slam dunk he'll be following former Giants assistant Mike Sullivan to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he got hired as offensive coordinator.Brandon Lloyd, St. Louis: He's talking to the Rams about re-signing, but it's also logical that he'd follow Josh McDaniels to the New England Patriots.Plaxico Burress, N.Y. Jets: The 49ers made a run at him last season. While en route to the Bay Area, Burress agreed to sign with the Jets. The 49ers signed Braylon Edwards to a low-risk contract, instead. Burress caught 45 passes for 612 yards and eight TDs for the Jets.

Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?


Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?

After five consecutive close losses and some reason for optimism, it all came crashing down for the 49ers on Sunday.

Rookie Trent Taylor fumbled a punt just one minute into the game. Ninety seconds later, the Dallas Cowboys scored.

And it was over.

The Cowboys steamrolled the 49ers, 40-10, providing a slap across the face to anyone who believed this rebuild of the franchise was trending consistently upward without any complications.

The team appeared to be moving along harmoniously. But on Sunday, there was an incident in which Jaquiski Tartt, Ahkello Witherspoon and Ray-Ray Armstrong were seen jawing at each other. Things got heated. The optics in a home blowout loss were not good.

There are plenty of questions, and here are some of the questions from The Day After that were submitted on our Facebook page:

What is the philosophy? Are we trying to win or develop players? Cause it seems you can't do both? (Frank Vega)
The 49ers are definitely trying to develop players. They are also trying to evaluate players. They are looking to the future, and they are not deploying a win-at-all-cost approach this season. They do not want to win an extra game or two this season at the expense of possibly making the team worse for the future.

That is why the 49ers, almost invariably, went with younger players at any position in which there was competition . . . Eli Harold over Ahmad Brooks; Trent Taylor over Jeremy Kerley; Raheem Mostert over Tim Hightower; etc.

It’s why the 49ers made the decision two weeks ago to part ways with NaVorro Bowman, who had expressed dissatisfaction over his reduced role. Bowman was still the 49ers’ best linebacker at the time. But he would not have been on the team next year, so the decision was made to release Bowman now and go with the other less-accomplished players. (The Raiders, by the way, say 'Thank you.')

Rookie C.J. Beathard is now the starting quarterback. Cole Hikutini has moved into the No. 2 role at tight end behind fellow rookie George Kittle. Ahkello Witherspoon is being weaved into the action at cornerback, splitting time with Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson.

The 49ers did not want to create a mirage. They did not want to win any games this season that would be the result of a veteran rent-a-player approach. In that respect, the 49ers have succeeded. The 49ers will be picking near the top of every round in the 2018 draft.

The risk, of course, is that the young players get beaten down so badly that they lose their confidence and their edge.

What do you make of Eric Reid’s move to LB? Is his time with Niners nearing the end? (Peter Chan)
The 49ers no longer use a “nickel” defense. They go straight from their base defense to six defensive backs whenever the opposition puts more than two wide receivers on the field. It’s not a true linebacker position Reid is playing. It’s considered more of a “big nickel," designed to give the 49ers more speed on third downs to cover and run to the ball.

Reid is no longer a starter. What it shows is that the 49ers are sold on Jaquiski Tartt being a long-term answer for the 49ers secondary. The 49ers view Tartt and Jimmie Ward as the starters for 2018. All things being equal, Reid will have a chance to go somewhere else next season and be a starter.

The 49ers are not committed to re-signing him on a deal that extends beyond this season.

Is it a coincidence that the two worst teams in the NFL have the most cap space? (Gary Staebler)
That is no coincidence at all. It is the very reason the Cleveland Browns and 49ers are the only two winless teams in the NFL.

The Browns have $61.6 million in cap space. The 49ers are currently $61 million under the cap. Next year, with carryovers of unused space, the 49ers and Browns are projected to both have more than $117 million in cap room, according to Overthecap.com.

Bad teams do not draft well.

Teams that do not draft well, do not sign their draft picks to lucrative second contracts.

Therefore, teams that do not draft well cannot spend a large portion of their cap space to retain their own players because they have no good players worth retaining.

49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense


49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense

Veteran safety Eric Reid returned from a knee injury that kept him out three games to discover he lost his starting job.

Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt has continued to serve as an every-down player for the 49ers’ defense. On Sunday, Reid played 48 snaps (64 percent) as the 49ers employed six defensive backs against the Dallas Cowboys three-receiver sets.

The 49ers had to adjust their sub package after nickel back K’Waun Williams sustained a hip injury. Rookie Adrian Colbert entered the game at safety with Jimmie Ward taking over Williams’ role. Colbert played 29 snaps.

Newly signed defensive linemen Leger Douzable and Tony McDaniel saw a lot of action in their 49ers debuts. Douzable played the third-most of any defensive lineman (behind Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner), seeing action on 47 of the team’s 75 snaps. McDaniel played 25 snaps.

On offense, the 49ers appear to be making a point to go with younger players. Rookie Cole Hikutini played 21 snaps, taking over as the No. 2 tight end over Garrett Celek and Logan Paulsen.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, another undrafted rookie, played a season-high 23 snaps. On fourth-and-4 from the Dallas 28 early in the third quarter, coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal. Bourne was the intended target. But he stumbled after a spin move from the slot, and C.J. Beathard’s pass was incomplete.

“As I was throwing the ball he tripped,” Beathard said. “If he hadn’t tripped on a DB’s feet or whatever happened there, it would’ve been a big play.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

(66 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 66
Running back – Carlos Hyde 51, Matt Breida 15
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 46, Trent Taylor 46, Marquise Goodwin 39, Aldrick Robinson 30, Kendrick Bourne 23
Tight end – George Kittle 31, Cole Hikutini 21, Garrett Celek 18, Logan Paulsen 11
Offensive line – Joe Staley 66, Daniel Kilgore 66, Laken Tomlinson 66, Brandon Fusco 52, Trent Brown 45, Garry Gilliam 20, Zane Beadles 14

(75 plays)
Defensive line – Solomon Thomas 61, DeForest Buckner 50, Leger Douzable 47, Earl Mitchell 38, Xavier Cooper 26, D.J. Jones 25, Tony McDaniel 25, Elvis Dumervil 15
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 53, Eli Harold 31, Ray-Ray Armstrong 27, Brock Coyle 22, Dekoda Watson 9
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 63, Rashard Robinson 51, Ahkello Witherspoon 35, K’Waun Williams 20
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 75, Jimmie Ward 75, Eric Reid 48, Adrian Colbert 29

(24 plays)
Elijah Lee 21, Coyle 21, Raheem Mostert 16, Celek 15, Colbert 16, Witherspoon 15, Breida 14, Harold 12, Hikutini 12, Armstrong 10, Tartt 10, Bradley Pinion 9, Jones 8, R.Robinson 8, Ward 8, Johnson 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Buckner 6, Thomas 6, Paulsen 6, Reid 5, Mitchell 5, Douzable 4, A.Robinson 3, Taylor 3, Robbie Gould 2, Foster 2, Staley 2, Kilgore 2, Gilliam 2, Beadles 2, Tomlinson 1, Fusco 1, Brown 1, Dumervil 1, Watson 1, Williams 1

QB Brian Hoyer

WR Victor Bolden
DB Dexter McCoil
FB Kyle Juszczyk (back)
LB Mark Nzeocha
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OL Erik Magnuson