49ers Blog and Q&A

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

February 17, 2012
How the 49ers will approach free-agent WRs


Wondering how the receiver-needy 49ers will handle a free-agent market that promises to be thick with good receivers? For the answer, it's probably best to pop the hatch on the old Delorean and go way back to July and the NFL's most recent free-agency period. At that time, cornerback was the hot position on the market, and the 49ers needed one after parting ways with Nate Clements.

The 49ers took a measured approach. They threw their hat into the ring when it came to the top name, Nnamdi Asomugha, and when Asomugha's price tag grew too extravagant, they withdrew and went to the next-biggest name, Johnathan Joseph. They also looked at Chris Carr before ultimately settling on Carlos Rogers, who signed a modest one-year contract and who went to the Pro Bowl. (Joseph also went, but Asomugha and Carr did not).

The experience likely has emboldened the 49ers that their approach is a very sound one. They evaluate would-be free agents, put a value on each one and pursue them until the demand outstrips the value. Last year, the 49ers knew that if they were patient, they ultimately would land a good free-agent cornerback.

This year's approach to wide receiver is bound to be similar. The 49ers might show interest initially in, say, Dwayne Bowe. If Bowe's market value goes beyond what the 49ers want to pay, they'll move to their next target, say, Vincent Jackson. If Jackson's price tag gets unwieldy, they'll move to Marques Colston, etc., etc.

Favoring the 49ers is a free-agency class that's deep at wide receiver as well as a draft class that's long at the position, especially in rounds 2-5. Some of the potential free agents, such as DeSean Jackson and Stevie Johnson, might not be available after signing deals with their current squads or being franchised. But many others will, including one free agent, Plaxico Burress, the 49ers pursued last year.

Unrestricted free agents
Doucet, Early - Arizona
Douglas, Harry - Atlanta
Weems, Eric - Atlanta
Johnson, Stevie - Buffalo
Parrish, Roscoe - Buffalo
Martin, Ruvell - Buffalo
Hagan, Derek - Buffalo
Naanee, Legedu - Carolina
Williams, Roy - Chicago
Simpson, Jerome - Cincinnati
Caldwell, Andre - Cincinnati
Robinson, Laurent - Dallas
Royal, Eddie - Denver
Davis, Rashied - Detroit
Stovall, Maurice - Detroit
Johnson, Bryant - Houston
Wayne, Reggie - Indianapolis
Garcon, Pierre - Indianapolis
Gonzalez, Anthony - Indianapolis
Bowe, Dwayne - KC
Urban, Jerheme - KC
Aromashodu, Devin - Minnesota
Camarillo, Greg - Minnesota
Welker, Wes - NE
Branch, Deion - NE
Slater, Matthew - NE
Meachem, Robert - NO
Roby, Courtney - NO
Colston, Marques - NO
Manningham, Mario - NYG
Thomas, Devin - NYG
Clayton, Michael - NYG
Hixon, Domenik - NYG
Burress, Plaxico - Jets
Houshmandzadeh, T.J. - Oakland
Schilens, Chaz - Oakland
Jackson, DeSean - Philadelphia
Smith, Steve - Philadelphia
Cotchery, Jerricho - Pittsburgh
Crayton, Patrick - San Diego
Jackson, Vincent - San Diego
Ginn, Ted - SF
Morgan, Joshua - SF
Lloyd, Brandon - Rams
Clayton, Mark - Rams
Spurlock, Micheal - TB
Avery, Donnie - Tennessee
Anderson, David - Washington
Stallworth, Donte - Washington
Edwards, Braylon
Moss, Randy
Owens, Terrell

-- 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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