49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

February 18, 2009
Atogwe off the market

The top player at perhaps the 49ers' neediest position in free agency was taken off the market when the Rams put the franchise tag on free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe. Atogwe is now looking at a one-year deal worth $6.342 million.

I don't know whether the 49ers were ever targeting Atogwe -- tamper, tamper -- but he had to have looked good to them. The 49ers' current free safety, Mark Roman, has had zero interceptions over the last two seasons. Atogwe had 13 over the same span. At 27, he is young enough for a big free-agent deal. He's also been durable, starting every game for the last three seasons.

Whom else could the 49ers target? Unfortunately for them, it's a weak year for free safeties in both free agency and the draft. In fact, there are far more strong safety candidates at the moment, such as Baltimore's Jim Leonhard, Miami's Yeremiah Bell, Tampa Bay's Jermaine Phillips and Cleveland's Sean Jones. After parting ways with Keith Lewis last week, the 49ers have a solid starter -- Michael Lewis -- at strong safety, but very little depth. At free safety, Dashon Goldson and newcomer Jimmy Williams also will compete for the starting job.

As expected, the Ravens franchised OLB Terrell Suggs, who also would have been a good fit in San Francisco. But who knows, tying down Suggs may free up another Ravens linebacker, Bart Scott ...

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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