NFC West: Julian Edelman
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Jackson agreed to a three-year deal with the Washington Redskins late Tuesday night. The 49ers reportedly made a late run at Jackson. The only way the 49ers were going to be able to land him if is the Redskins didn't come through with a big offer. That didn't happen.
It was no surprise the 49ers were interested in Jackson, who was cut by Philadelphia on Friday. He is a field-stretching receiver and that is one of the 49ers' few needs. However, it was difficult to fathom the 49ers would win the Jackson sweepstakes because of a lack of salary-cap room. The 49ers currently have just $4.1 million under the cap with some big-money deals looming in the next year.
The 49ers looked at receiver Julian Edelman, Hakeem Nicks and Emmanuel Sanders to no avail this spring. As with Jackson, it all came down to finances.
The 49ers will no doubt turn their attention to the draft where they are expected to take a receiver as early as the first round.
The Bay Area native visited with the 49ers on Friday. However, the pursuit was considered somewhat tepid. Edelman wasn’t a natural fit for the 49ers, anyway. He is a slot receiver and that’s a role Anquan Boldin occupies nicely.
The 49ers need a speed receiver and that’s why they are talking to Pittsburgh’s Emmanuel Sanders. He was supposed to visit the team Saturday night.
There is a possible hurdle for Sanders. ESPN.com’s Scott Brown is reporting some teams are worried about Sanders’ lingering foot issue, and it could affect his price tag. The 49ers, who currently have less than $4 million in salary-cap room, likely wouldn't pay Sanders much, anyway.
If the 49ers go on to look at other receivers in free agency, potential options are James Jones, Santonio Holmes and Sidney Rice.
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond is planning on taking other visits. He was in San Francisco on Friday. The 49ers are still interested in him.
Returning free agents: Receiver Anquan Boldin, kicker Phil Dawson, cornerback Eric Wright.
Departed free agents: Safety Donte Whitner (Cleveland), cornerback Tarell Brown (Oakland), running back Anthony Dixon (tweeted he is signing with Buffalo on Saturday).
Released: Cornerback Carlos Rogers.
Free-agent addition: Safety Antoine Bethea (Colts), Cornerback Chris Cook (Vikings).
Acquired in trade: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert from Jaguars; tackle Jonathan Martin from Miami.
Who are they interested in? Cornerback Walter Thurmond (Seattle),receivers Julian Edelman (New England) and Emmanuel Sanders (Pittsburgh).
Remaining 49ers free agents: Center Jonathan Goodwin, receiver Mario Manningham, quarterback Colt McCoy, receiver Kassim Osgood, cornerback Perrish Cox.
Starting lineup changes: Bethea for Whitner; likely Daniel Kilgore for Goodwin.
Odds of landing them: There is competition. The Patriots want Edelman back and Cleveland has been connected to him as well. Nicks is visiting Indianapolis on Friday. Carolina is also interested. The 49ers don’t have a ton of salary-cap room, so they have to get creative in a deal with either player.
Who is the best fit? Probably Nicks because he is an outside receiver. Landing him on a short-term deal to see if he can become a top-notch player again could be smart. Don’t get me wrong; Edelman is good as well. You don’t catch 105 balls in a season if you’re not talented. But Anquan Boldin is essentially a slot guy as well. Still, I’m sure the 49ers could find ways to make it work.
How Crabtree, Boldin and the draft figure: Crabtree is a free agent next year and Boldin is 33. So, even if the 49ers sign Edelman or Nicks, I can still see them taking a receiver early in the draft.
Kaepernick factor: I’m sure quarterback Colin Kaepernick is paying attention. This passing offense could be nasty with Boldin, Crabtree, tight end Vernon Davis and Nicks or Edelman. It would open it up. It could also behoove Kaepernick to wait to get his contract done until next year. He could put up big numbers with another top weapon.
Should Seattle worry? Yes. The 49ers must get better on offense to beat Seattle. That was the reason why the 49ers couldn’t overtake Seattle in 2013. A big-time offensive weapon could even the playing field.
Scout's thoughts: “I was a little surprised to be honest, especially after the re-signing of Boldin. Quinton Patton also shows some promise, but this would be a heck of a receiver corps if is Patton is your No. 4. I would think if they were in the market for WR though, that they would be looking for a pure speed guy, which isn't Nicks or Edelman.” -- ESPN analyst Matt Williamson
However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter dropped a bit of a bombshell on Thursday. Schefter reported that New England slot receiver Julian Edelman will visit the 49ers on Friday. Schefter also reported the team is interested in Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks.
Both players will likely be fairly costly and the 49ers don’t have a ton of salary-cap room. But Perhaps the market is dropping and the 49ers are looking to see if they can get a relative bargain.
Nicks may fit better because he is an outside guy. Anquan Boldin, although he is a starter, thrives as a slot man. However, adding either Nicks or Edelman would give the 49ers another strong weapon as the 49ers try to catch up with Super Bowl champion Seattle in the NFC West.
A passing offense featuring Michael Crabtree, Boldin, Vernon Davis and one of these two players would be daunting and it would certainly help quarterback Colin Kaepernick stay on the upswing.
It will be interesting to see how these pursuits play out and whether the 49ers can find a way to fit one of these two receivers into the offense.
Faulk even wondered aloud whether Jeff Fisher would last long enough to fulfill his contract.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch passes along this comment from Faulk on Fisher: "We'll see. That's all I can say. We will see. Jeff had a long and illustrious tenure in Tennessee and Houston. How long is (owner) Stan Kroenke going to wait? Will they give him all five years regardless of how bumpy it is? If Jeff hits three of those 8-8 seasons, what do you do? That's a lot of money to be mediocre. You've got to deliver." Noted: I think the Rams would be quite pleased with three 8-8 seasons from Fisher after going 10-38 over the past three seasons. I can also see why Faulk might be skeptical. Faulk won big in St. Louis within a high-powered offense. Fisher prefers a more conservative approach.
Matthew Hathaway of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC) made its proposal to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome Wednesday, the deadline to do so. Hathaway: "The CVC plan to retain the Rams is such a closely guarded secret that even the Dome's owner -- the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority -- has been largely out of the loop. Officials with the authority have said they don't know what the CVC will propose should be done with the facility, and Ratcliffe said last week that it was not necessary for the authority's board to approve the CVC's offer to the Rams. The Rams, too, have indicated that the franchise likely will keep mum after receiving the CVC proposal today."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says former Raiders assistant John Fassel is the Rams' new special-teams coach. Thomas: "The Raiders had some of the league's best special teams units in 2009 and '10, leading the NFL in special teams takeaways and turnover differential in each of those seasons. In 2010, Oakland's Jacoby Ford had a breakout rookie season with three kickoff returns for touchdowns. Ford also had a 101-yard kickoff return for a score in 2011. But the Raiders' coverage units struggled in '11, yielding three returns for TDs and finishing last in punt coverage and 27th in kickoff coverage."
Jeff Fedotin of National Football Post says former Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu hopes to play in 2012 after resting a knee injury last season.
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press profiles former Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy. Reynolds: "He’s still a fan favorite in Seattle, and spends a good chunk of time during the season around the New Orleans Saints, for whom some of his closest friends and confidants work. His home is in a well-to-do community, with neighbors including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, golfer Ian Poulter and famed coach Lou Holtz — someone Kennedy tormented at the height of the Miami-Notre Dame rivalry. Holtz got over it, apparently: He wrote the letter asking that Kennedy be approved to move into the gated community he now calls home."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers could have interest in DeSean Jackson if the receiver encounters a skeptical market and becomes available for a modest contract over the short term. Maiocco: "Jackson might not be in the mold of the big, physical receiver that coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke seem to like. And Jackson might not fit the blue-collar image that Harbaugh stressed. But I don't believe Harbaugh cares about reputation. He'd be open-minded about acquiring an exceptional talent who can help the team."
Also from Maiocco: a look at how the 49ers' linebackers fared in 2011. On Ahmad Brooks: "He played just about every snap this season at left outside linebacker, as he seemed to grasp Vic Fangio's defense well enough to handle his responsibilities against the run and the pass. Brooks recorded seven sacks and was third on the team with 46 quarterback pressures. Brooks typically moved to left defensive end in nickel situations when the 49ers would convert to a four-man line. He was also pretty solid against the run. He had 12 tackles for losses on the year."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects receivers coach John McNulty to remain with the Cardinals after Arizona prevented Tampa Bay from interviewing him for their vacant offensive coordinator's position.
Also from Somers: Former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner offers thoughts on Peyton Manning's situation. Warner: "I don't think there's any question in mind, if there's a guy who can do something similar to what I did -- resurrect their career and go somewhere else and play at a higher level -- it's a guy like Peyton. Because you know he's going to work and you know he's going to set a standard. It's hard to do. You don't see many quarterbacks do it."
More from Somers: Ex-Cardinals receiver Roy Green was a two-way player long before New England's Julian Edelman attempted the feat. Somers: "Other guys would jog off the field and get a chance to go sit on the bench and get a chance to gather their thoughts. I was playing 30 to 35 plays on defense, then playing special teams, then you're right back in it (the game)."
Nine other Seattle players have more yards receiving to this point. What's the deal? One, the Seahawks are bringing along Tate a little more slowly than his camp production might indicate. They realize he's rough around the edges when it comes to route running and the finer points. It's also common for rookie receivers to flash during practice, but not so much in games, at least right away.
I asked quarterback Matt Hasselbeck about Tate's preseason production and he flashed back to his days as a rookie with Green Bay. Hasselbeck thought he'd played well during minicamps and training camp, but it didn't translate to his preseason debut in a game for the Packers in Japan.
"They might as well have been calling the plays in Japanese," Hasselbeck said. "It was like I lost my mind. Andy Reid called me in after the game and said, 'You embarrassed me. What was that?' I said I’m sorry. So, I feel for those guys. I've been there. It’s not easy."
Tate has looked too good during practices to disappear entirely. But it's also unrealistic to expect great things from rookie receivers. Michael Crabtree was an exception for the San Francisco 49ers last season -- a rookie wideout with the polish of a seasoned pro.
"He’s shown a lot of ability and in some things he’s just been really, really amazing, and in other things he’s a rookie," Hasselbeck said. "I’m sure he’s used to doing things a certain way. He's on a new team now, a new program; they’re probably working with him on technique things, and they're probably working with him on assignments and splits and all kinds of stuff. It's a lot."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers would draft Michael Crabtree with the 10th overall choice, if available. He says the 49ers would draft Knowshon Moreno over Chris Wells in the unlikely event they decided to draft a running back early. The team would be happy to draft Andre Smith at No. 10, but taking Michael Oher in that spot might not be a slam dunk. LSU's Tyson Jackson could be the preferred defensive lineman, over B.J. Raji. The team probably wouldn't take Malcolm Jenkins at No. 10. Brian Orakpo? Probably not. And it's unlikely the team would take Aaron Maybin or Everette Brown that early, either. Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing could be higher priorities than Maybin or Brown.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee forecasts which players he thinks the 49ers will select with each of their picks. The list: Oher, running back Shonn Greene, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, quarterback Stephen McGee, inside linebacker Scott McKillop, receiver Brandon Gibson, outside linebacker Pierre Walters, receiver/quarterback Julian Edelman and tight end Bear Pascoe.
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says there's value in the later rounds. He points to Pat White, Brian Hoyer, Chase Patton, Austin Collie, Ramses Barden, Kory Sheets and Ian Johnson as later-round prospects to watch.
Gary Plummer of 49ers.com says NFL teams can't measure a player's heart. Plummer: "I was never even invited to the Combine and I was never drafted, but I went on to play 12 seasons in the NFL. With those experiences, I've always rooted for guys who don't get drafted."
Niners scout Todd Brunner says the team has spent recent days making sure it has discussed every draft-eligible player.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' public-relations department shielded coach Mike Singletary from reporters in the days leading to the draft. Crumpacker: "It's just as well. General manager Scot McCloughan put the 49ers' draft board together and will be making the call for the club."
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle made me chuckle with this description of the NFL draft: "Today is the worst day of the entire NFL draft process, because it is the day that all the speculation ends and your favorite team is stuck with the choice it made rather than awash in the dozens it could have."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic previews the Cardinals' draft in general terms. Forget about getting specifics from Rod Graves or Ken Whisenhunt.
Also from Somers: It appears receiver Anquan Boldin will remain with the Cardinals through the draft. Trades are often contingent on a player passing a physical. The acquiring team also needs time, in many cases, to work out a new contract with the player. Somers: "The Cardinals are surprised there hasn't been more interest from teams, who apparently think the cost is too high, considering they would also have to come to terms with Boldin on a contract that would pay him an average of $8 million to $10 million a year."
More from Somers: The Cardinals would have no interest in Titans running backs LenDale White or Chris Henry if Tennessee offered either player as part of a trade for Boldin.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com previews the Seahawks' draft options. Johns: "As much as teams talk of drafting the best player available regardless of position, there is an impetus to pick athletes who will be in line to earn starting roles before long in order to justify their draft position and salary slot."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' first-round picks haven't panned out all that well under general manager Tim Ruskell, who has one year remaining on a five-year contract. Yes, this draft is important for him and the organization.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com takes a peek inside the Seahawks' draft room at their new facility. It's 1,600 square feet, twice the size of the old one. The rapport between Ruskell and vice president Ruston Webster transcends location. Webster: "You know what's sad? When we say something at the same time. That scares me. But it really is good. I know how he thinks. And I think for him, it's important to have somebody who understands that. And he knows how I think. For the most part, we were kind of brought up in this business the same way, so our philosophy is the same."
Tyler Dunne of Scout.com says the Seahawks would draft Wake Forest safety Chip Vaughn in the third round if available.
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the Rams are putting an emphasis on character in this draft. Wagoner: "Fortunately for the Rams, most of the players they are considering in this year's draft are about as well rounded and mature as any crop of recent potential draft picks. Offensive tackles Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe, linebacker Aaron Curry and USC quarterback Mark Sanchez have received rave reviews for their personality and attitude at every stop they've made along the way. Taking Curry as an example, he has invited 12-year-old Bryson Merriweather, a leukemia survivor from Madison, Ala., to be his special guest at the draft in New York City."
VanRam of Turf Show Times warns against dismissing talk that the Rams could draft Sanchez with the second overall choice.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says he would draft Curry from Wake Forest with the second overall choice if he were making the decision for the Rams. However, all signs point to the team selecting an offensive tackle.
Also from Thomas: The Rams' need at tackle appears too great to ignore early in the draft. Thomas: "Michael Crabtree, the wide receiver from Texas Tech, basically eliminated himself from consideration with what Rams Park sources said was a diva attitude during his pre-draft trip here. Apparently, his rock star mentality was a big turnoff to coaches and front office personnel. Couple that with his foot injury, and the feeling in Earth City was that he wasn't worth the trouble. As for Sanchez, what first looked like pure smokescreen seemed to turn into downright infatuation. To some at Rams Park, Sanchez possesses the leadership qualities -- the 'it' factor -- that may be lacking in Marc Bulger. But at the end of the day, the Rams appear committed to Bulger for at least one more season."