49ers Blog and Q&A

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

February 21, 2012
Should the 49ers go after WR Mike Wallace?

wallace.jpg

Many of you have been asking whether the 49ers would go after restricted free agent Mike Wallace whose Steelers squad is dealing with a cramped salary cap - they're currently $10 million over, according to reports -- and might not be able to match another team's offer to the wide receiver. My response: It makes more sense for the Ravens and Patriots.

The argument for making such a move is that Wallace is only 25, he's a proven commodity and he's what the 49ers need - a wideout who can stretch the field and put downfield pressure on defenses. Any team that makes him an offer would have to part with first-round pick. Wallace is certainly a safer player and perhaps a better receiver than anyone the 49ers can get at No. 30.

But the 49ers also would have to pay Wallace. Any offer made to Wallace once free agency begins March 13 would have to be too much for the Steelers, who could match it since Wallace is restricted. There's also the potential for a bidding situation with other receiver-needy teams picking at the end of the first round like the Ravens or the Patriots.

In the end, the 49ers would not only give up the first-round pick but also some of the cap space earmarked for free agents. Wallace is good. But is he better than two players -- say Pierre Garcon and Mohamed Sanu, or perhaps Janoris Jenkins and Vincent Jackson or Rueben Randle and Marques Colston -- the 49ers could add this offseason?

Wallace was a third-round pick in 2009. This year's draft, meanwhile, is deep with wide receivers. GM Trent Baalke is bursting with confidence after his 2011 draft, and my guess is that the 49ers would rather keep all of their picks and select the next Mike Wallace. Going after Wallace makes more sense for the Patriots or Ravens or even the Bengals because they'd also be maligning a dangerous conference and/or division opponent. The 49ers don't have that extra incentive.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW 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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