C.J. Anderson

Seven best NFL free agents still available right now heavy on defense

Seven best NFL free agents still available right now heavy on defense

The biggest fish have been reeled in, but there still are plenty left to catch in NFL free agency. 

That's good news for the 49ers and the Raiders. Although San Francisco and Oakland were two of the most active teams at the official start of the league year Wednesday, both still have some clear needs to address this offseason. 

The Raiders could use a backup quarterback, and their NFL-worst pass rush has gone unaddressed over a month out from the NFL draft. Meanwhile, the 49ers largely stood pat in the secondary, despite bringing back Jimmie Ward and Antone Exum.

So, which players could fill those aforementioned holes on either side of the Bay (or both)? Here are seven players who still are available in free agency and could make a big impact in the 2019 season. 

VIEW THE BEST REMAINING NFL FREE AGENTS HERE

C.J. Anderson, cut by Raiders earlier in season, helps Rams reach Super Bowl

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AP

C.J. Anderson, cut by Raiders earlier in season, helps Rams reach Super Bowl

What a wild ride for C.J. Anderson.

The Cal alum went from being released by the Raiders -- the team he grew up rooting for in Richmond, Calif. -- to leading the Rams to the Super Bowl in a month's time.

For the fourth consecutive game Sunday, Anderson led L.A. in rushing (44 yards on 16 carries), this time in the NFC Championship, which the Rams won 26-23 over the Saints in overtime.

Anderson now has rushed for 466 yards in four games since joining L.A. He had 167, 132 and 123 yards in his previous three contests with the team.

But this season wasn't always gravy for Anderson. Before signing with the Rams, here's how his season was going: released by the Carolina Panthers after nine games, then signed and released by the Raiders after five days in Week 15.

Anderson signed with the Raiders on Dec. 4 in what appeared to be an East Bay homecoming. Like the rest of the team's season, nothing was that perfect. 

“I grew up in the Coliseum,” Anderson said at the time of his signing. “I came to a lot of games, screaming chants and all that. I know all about the history.”

The Raiders released him before he even wore the Silver and Black in a game. His mom is such a fan of the team that she once rooted against her own son when he played on the Broncos against the Raiders. 

That probably isn't the case anymore.

Raiders RB C.J. Anderson ready to showcase talent for hometown club

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USATSI

Raiders RB C.J. Anderson ready to showcase talent for hometown club

ALAMEDA – C.J. Anderson acknowledged this wasn’t the first time he’d been inside the Raiders locker room. It wasn’t in the professional capacity it was Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he signed with the Silver and Black.

“Last time I was in here, Tim Brown and Bobby Brooks were holding (a football skills) camp,” Anderson said. “It feels good to have another opportunity to play football and do what I love to do.”

[RELATED: Raiders sign C.J. Anderson]

Anderson will enjoy where he gets to work over the next month at least. Anderson is Concord born and Vallejo-bred, a prep superstar who played some quality college football at Cal.

His mother is a huge Raiders fan, and Anderson was raised to love the Silver and Black.

“I grew up in the Coliseum,” Anderson said. “I came to a lot of games, screaming chants and all that. I know all about the history.”

He also quickly listed the players he followed closest as a kid.

“Charlie Garner was my favorite, when he moved from the 49ers over here,” Anderson said. “I like Napoleon Kauffman. I loved (Greg) Biekert. I love (Charles Woodson). I can go down the list.”

Anderson cut it short. He didn’t have all day. There’s significant acclimation going on right now, as he adjusts to Jon Gruden’s offseason with the possibility he’ll play some Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

That’s a quick transition -- one Anderson wants to make with just four games remains and so little work done this season. Carolina cut him on Nov. 12, ending a short tenure that didn’t pan out. He was supposed to compliment Christian McCaffrey, but the Stanford alum was too good to take off the field.

He carried the ball 24 times for 104 yards and had a 24-yard touchdown catch.

Anderson had some options, but ended up back home in the Bay Area.

“I went to Detroit. I went to Kansas City,” Anderson said. “I had some teams who were going to wait until the end of this week to see what they were going to do with me, including some playoff teams. But, when I sat back and thought about this opportunity, I thought it was a good one.”

Anderson believes he can get going quickly despite learning a new scheme while trying to prep for a game. He was brought in to help in case Doug Martin’s knee injury prevented him from playing Sunday, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

How or whether Anderson fits here in the short and long term remains to be seen. Anderson’s going to push to earn a job here or somewhere else next season.

“I’ve got four weeks to put my best foot forward and help this team win some games,” the 26-year old said. “That’s the No. 1 goal, right? I want to win and play good football for the next month that I have.”