@mattbarrows If you had to choose 1 FA the 49ers would pursue this offseason, who is it? Nnamdi Asomugha or Kevin Kolb?
A: First, Kolb is not a free agent. If the 49ers acquired him, it would be through a trade. He seems to hit on all the criteria - accurate, strong arm, West Coast system, some starting experience - Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers are looking for. But if you're the 49ers you have to be wary about giving up too much for a guy that had a 76.1 passer rating in five starts last season. First, the Eagles likely will be able to leverage several quarterback-starved teams against each other. Second, the 49ers are the most quarterback-starved team in the league right now. They need to increase their options -- and it's likely that the draft will be the only vehicle to do so -- before they start looking for a trade.
As far as Asomugha (and congratulations on your spelling!), he would seem to be a wonderful fit not only because he is a skilled cornerback but because he's an excellent guy in the locker room and in the community. He won't come cheap, and just about every team in the league could use him. However, I'd give the 49ers a better than 1-in-32 chance of landing him for the following reasons: 1.) proximity - he wouldn't have to move. 2.) representation - Asomugha's agent is Ben Dogra, who just worked out a long-term deal between the 49ers and another client, Patrick Willis. 3.) coaching - Vic Fangio's system promises to be similar to that of friend Dom Capers'. Who knows, maybe Fangio envisions using Asomugha the way Capers uses another No. 21, Charles Woodson, who was the defensive player of the year in 2009.
@mattbarrows Who physically and skill wise is the most intriguing QB in the draft?
A: At the end of the day, I think the answer to your question is going to be Cam Newton. I'll wager that between the combine and the draft, Newton will be the most talked-about and written-about guy in the draft. It won't reach Tim Tebow levels - thank the Lord (who may or may not be Tebow) - but I'm betting we'll all be suffering from Newton Overload in April. The guy I personally like is Colin Kaepernick, whose arm is equal to or superior to Newton's, who can run and who is just about the nicest guy on the planet. I'll have more on Kaepernick in coming weeks.
A: Confession: I had a secret draft crush on Jones in 2007. Yes, he's well-versed in the West Coast offense, he's from San Jose and has the toughness to routinely go across the middle. But he only has four years of service, and the belief - right now, anyway - is that guys in that category will be restricted free agents. My guess is that he's in a Packers uniform in 2011.
@mattbarrows When can teams resign own FAs? What are chances ManLaw is still a 9er next year?
A: Teams can extend their own free agents up until March 4 (and I gotta wonder if JH is dangling a one-year deal in front of AS). After that, they would have to wait until after a new collective bargaining agreement is drafted at which point there would be a free-agency period. (In a normal year, that free-agency period would begin March 4). The big question is, if the CBA impasse lasts into the summer or even the fall, what kind of impact will it have on free agency? That is, will teams be willing to shell out top dollar for players who might not be able to help them much in the first half of the season? And would they be more willing to welcome back their own free agents who are, after all, more familiar with their systems? To answer your question, I think in a normal year, there would be little chance of retaining Lawson because other teams would offer him more than the 49ers feel he's worth. However, this is anything but a normal year ... (How's that for dancing around a question?!)
@mattbarrows when do the niners have to workout a re structured contract or cut Nate before his contract becomes guaranteed..?
A: Well, the first $7 million-plus of his 2011 contract is base salary, and base salaries aren't guaranteed. The second $7 million-plus is likely-to-be-earned incentives. So the 49ers conceivably could cut him the day before the season begins and not owe him much at all. However, that would be a jerk move (I was aiming for another four-letter word that ends in k), and they wouldn't do that. If they can't work out an extension, they'll either release him before March 4 or after there is a new CBA so that he can take part in free agency. My guess is that they won't release him before the draft.
@mattbarrows before the cba expires, can harbaugh had out the new playbook to returning players to study in the offseason?
A: According to Sam Bradford, the answer's yes. And maybe that's why Harbaugh and his staff didn't head to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. They actually need to write a playbook that they can pass along to returning players.
-- Matt Barrows