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49ers Busy with Bryant, Moore, Hope - By Bryan HershMarch 14 2006

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A busy day at 49ers headquarters as the team signed both WR Antonio Bryant of Cleveland and LB Brandon Moore who was a back up for the team last season. The two signings cap a very busy start to the of the free agent period. Bryant, will immediately be penciled in to start for the team, but understand that the role will not simply be handed to him. Meanwhile the team also signed LB Brandon Moore and has expressed interest in Steelers Safety Chris Hope.

In speaking to the media Bryant addressed the importance of proving to the 49ers that he is not only a capable receiver but that he has also dealt with his ‘baggage’ issues that include throwing a towel at his former head coach Bill Parcells. Bryant was also eager to meet with 49ers quarterback Alex Smith as well as receiver coach and guru Jerry Sullivan. The opportunity to be the number one receiver for the 49ers, having gained over 1000 yards last season, was a key factor in Bryant’s decision to join the 49ers, he should be aware though that nothing will be handed to him on a silver platter.

The Bryant transaction closes out the gaping hole left open by the trade of Brandon Lloyd to the Washington Redskins. In that trade the 49ers acquired the Redskins third round pick this year, and fourth round pick next year. The Bryant signing should essentially neutralize the loss of Lloyd, and the 49ers benefit from the two additional picks. Lloyd is of course known for his acrobatic catches with the club, but has also show inconsistent play, and has alienated some members in the locker room. Although Bryant does not come to the team with a clear slate the two players are at least comparable. Bryant’s deal is for 4 years at $15 million with at least $5 million as a signing bonus.

The 49ers busy day continued as the team re-signed linebacker Brandon Moore. The team has been battling to keep its linebacking core in tact, having exposed Julian Peterson, Derek Smith, Jeff Ulbrich, Brandon Moore, Andre Carter, and Saleem Rasheed to free agency this off-season. Already, the team has arranged to keep Smith, Ulbrich, and now Moore. Latest reports from head coach Mike Nolan indicate greater optimism of re-signing the leader of the pack, Julian Peterson – however that still remains a long shot.

Moore was a capable rotational player for the 49ers at linebacker for the past few seasons. The revamped linebacking core could push Moore into a starting role. He will have to improve his pass coverage for that to be the case though. Moore’s deal is reportedly a very reasonable 5 years for $8 million. It is unclear at the moment what type of Bonus Moore received.

Despite these signings the 49ers are likely to still pursue the LB and WR position in this years NFL draft. The team has been hit hard at both position and will be counting on some of their younger players to step up. Nevertheless, these moves appear to be positive changes for a team that is working very hard to compete in an NFC West that is growing stronger.

Head Coach Mike Nolan also indicated that the team will remain active in free agency, and that Chris Hope the starting safety for the Steelers last season, and current free agent, will visit the 49ers this week. The 49ers are looking to improve their defensive secondary that was poor even before it was decimated by injuries last season. Hope could add some much needed stability in that area, and could team with either Tony Parrish or Mike Adams to create a pretty solid starting set of safeties.

 
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