Posted: 6:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 13, 2013
By James Brady
Free agency opened up at 1 p.m. PT on Tuesday, and we got to see the San Francisco 49ers ... do absolutely nothing. Of course, there were several visits and reported interests, but the 49ers didn't get anybody signed to deals. Their only significant play, at this point, was a trade for Anquan Boldin, in which they sent the Baltimore Ravens a sixth-round pick.
Meanwhile, it seems like multiple 49ers players are on their way out. Isaac Sopoaga signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, Ricky Jean Francois seems to be right behind him, Dashon Goldson continues to Tweet about haters this and haters that, and he's on his way out.
So what's the deal here? Are the 49ers just having a really bad go at free agency this time around? The short answer is: no.
The long answer is that this is all going according to plan. We can look at specifics, like the fact that this is the strongest safety class in years and Goldson has always wanted more money than he's worth. We can look at the fact that Sopoaga played in just 31 percent of San Francisco's defensive snaps last season as they get further and further away from the base 3-4 defense.
Or we can just take note of the fact that the 49ers have 14 draft picks in the 2013 NFL Draft (it was 15 prior to trading for Boldin, a near-1,000-yard receiver at this point in his career) and there will need to be some turnover. San Francisco didn't maneuver to have multiple second- and third-round picks for nothing.
They want those players to make the roster. They want to draft a guy who will come in and do something next season. Bringing in young talent is crucial for this team's continued success.
Which ties into the free agency equation more than you might guess. With a guy like Goldson or Sopoaga leaving, the 49ers are putting themselves in a position to get even more draft picks via compensatory selections. Goldson could easily turn out to be a third-round pick, and Sopoaga could fetch a decent pick as well. Maybe the 49ers are exceptionally high on this draft - it wouldn't be that shocking.
Either way, this was always par the course. They set themselves up for a monster draft and they set up their contracts to fall in this manner. Maybe they wanted to keep Delanie Walker, Jean Francois and Goldson, but they were always prepared for the event that they wouldn't be able to and stuck to their guns. It's worked for this front office thus far, why should it stop now?