Here are some between-the-lines thoughts with nearly two days of free agency in the books:
- I think Matt Cassel going to the Chiefs is a bit of a blow to the 49ers because now one of the teams at the top of the draft - Detroit is the other - that was without a starting quarterback no longer needs one. It would be great news if the 49ers have their eye on either Matt Stafford or Matt Sanchez. But I don't think they do, raising the chances that another player they liked at pick No. 10 will be taken ahead of them.
- Speaking of pick No. 10, you have to believe that the 49ers would really like it to be an offensive tackle. They showed no interest in any of the top tackles in free agency over the last two days. As a result, I'd expect Andre Smith and even Michael Oher to appear at No. 10 in a lot of the mock drafts that start popping up like so many annoying dandelions. (Stay tuned for Barrows Mock 1.0).
- No, Brandon Jones isn't the second coming of Terrell Owens. But he gives a bare-boned receiving corps a bit of depth. Jones started seven games last season, which is more than double the starts that Josh Morgan and Jason Hill have in their careers ... combined. Jones was injured and inconsistent over the first three years of his career in Tennessee. He did not live up to his third-round status. But the word out of Tennessee is that he began to turn things around last season and was one of the few bright spots in the Titans' passing game. The question is whether the 49ers are catching Jones on his way up or whether they were fooled by someone playing in his contract year.
- Where will Jones play? That remains up in the air and is influenced by several factors, especially Isaac Bruce's status in 2009 and whom the 49ers draft in April. My guess, though, is that the 49ers would love to get Jones and Morgan on the field at the same time. Both have the ability to get open deep, and doing so is essential for springing Frank Gore and the running game. (See: 2007 offense). Morgan played split end last season, which means the 49ers might put Jones at flanker or "z." That also would allow Hill to continue to work at slot where he looked very sharp at the end of 2008.
- The 49ers' personnel department asks two questions before free agency begins. 1.) Who are the best players available? 2.) Do they fit our team? Chris Canty elicits double-scored, bold-italics YES's to both. At 6-7, 300 pounds, Canty is a prototypical defensive end in a 3-4 scheme who would pair nicely with Justin Smith. If the 49ers somehow landed him - he also is being pursued by Seattle, Green Bay and the Giants - I would imagine Isaac Sopoaga would swing back over to nose tackle and Kentwan Balmer would continue to develop behind Canty at left defensive end.
- The signings of Jones and Allen Rossum have led to a sobering realization ... the dream of landing Percy Harvin might be dead. Ah, but where one dream dies, another rises up. Scot McCloughan said he wanted to bring in TWO quality receivers this offseason. How about Ohio State's Brian Robiskie in the second round? ...If he lasts that long ...
- By the way, still not buying the Kurt Warner-to-49ers talk, but it certainly doesn't hurt the 49ers to negotiate with Warner's agents. Doing so 1.) Increases Warner's asking price, further depleting a division rival's salary cap, 2.) creates friction between Warner and the Cardinals and 3.) puts more pressure on Alex Smith to sign his own reworked contract. The 49ers certainly would gain if Warner left Arizona for San Francisco. But they'd also benefit if Warner threw up his hands and retired.
-- Matt Barrows