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Free Agent Roundup - By Bryan Hersh Feb 14 2006

THIS CONTENT IS COPYWRITED, REDISTRIBUTION OF IT (including copy/pasting it to a message board, forum or bbs) IS PROHIBITED AND COULD RESULT IN LEGAL ACTIONS - feel free to quote up to 1 paragraph providing a source link to http://www.49ersparadise.com is included

Ok folks, the season ended, the playoffs are over, the Super Bowl is complete, and the Pro Bowl has officially past (with little notice mind you) – so to help keep you all entertained, and of course, to give me something to do, I decided to ‘break down’ the 49ers free agents. Who should re-sign, and why. Of course, to make things interesting, I am going to break things down as if there were zero salary cap ramifications involved in any of these moves. Why? So that our judgement is not clouded by figures. In other words, what I am striving for here is the ideal.

Please note that the 49ers have already re-signed the following players: Jeff Ulbrich, Corey Smith, and Arnaz Battle. UFA – Unrestricted Free Agent, RFA – Restricted Free Agent.

OL Anthony Clement, UFA – Anyone who watched the 49ers last year knows that it was a problem for the team. Anyone who saw Anthony Clement play knows that he was a source of the problem. In short, do not bring Clement back. The team has more than enough young talent to start ahead of Clement and should continue to build with quality veterans, not just veterans.

WR Brandon Lloyd, RFA – I would retain Lloyd. Although he has struggled with consistency I have seen improvement each year he has been with the club. He is also a big play threat, and helps to sell tickets. I believe Lloyd is maturing, and while I would not pay a premium for him, nor would I guarantee him a starting position, I would bring him back to the team.

LB Brandon Moore, UFA – Moore has been a solid back up linebacker for the team for a number of years. He has seen extensive play time filling in for an often injured starting linebacking core. Moore has proven to be a pretty good play maker, and pass rusher. Where Moore does not excel is in pass coverage. Still I believe Moore should be retained in a back-up LB capacity, unless he can improve his pass coverage.

FB Chris Hetherington, UFA – I do not feel that Hetherington contributed much to the team this year. I do feel like the team should draft a FB, or find a FB elsewhere. I do think Fred Beasley was as good as Hetherington, and while the team finds a replacement for Beasley, I believe it is more important to keep Beasley around than Hetherington. I know this will not be a popular choice.

LB Derek Smith, UFA – Derek Smith was the playmaker of the defense this past season – but Smith is no spring chicken. I would bring Smith back, but would be very cautious in the salary we offer him. The last thing we need is to find out that Smith was playing at a high level because he was in the last year of a contract. Smith should be given a good contract, and should be given the opportunity to start next season.

FB Fred Beasley, UFA – Beasley wants to return to the 49ers, the question is whether the team will have him. Although Beasley is clearly on the downside of his career, I believe the team will be able to sign him to a reasonable contract, that he will be able to help groom whoever the 49ers bring to replace him, and that he can handle the role of FB at least as well as Chris Hetherington. I would retain Beasley, but be actively looking to replace him.

WR Jason McAddley, UFA – McAddley is worth bringing back because of his improved play at the end of the season. McAddley should be signed to a very small contract and allowed to compete with the other million WR trying to make the team next season. In other words he’s worth signing, but no way should a roster spot be given to him at this point.

PK Joe Nedney, UFA – This is an easy choice. Nedney had the best year in years for a 49ers kicker. Bring him back.

LB Julian Peterson, UFA – Although Peterson’s play has slipped recently, he is still a really solid linebacker. The trick will be to sign Peterson to a reasonable contract – especially given his agents, the Poston brothers. If Peterson cannot be retained under a reasonable contract, the 49ers should not but an exclusive rights, or transition tag on him. They should let him test the market and chance losing him.

QB Ken Dorsey, RFA – It can’t hurt to at least tender Dorsey a minimum offer so that he can look around the league and possible sign elsewhere giving the 49ers draft compensation. Bringing Dorsey back is not an awful alternative either – especially if the 49ers can’t find a suitable veteran back up.

RB Steve Bush, UFA – Bush has always impressed me in the pre-season but never seems to do much during the year. Given that Bush was not able to beat out Chris Hetherington I would not rush to bring him back to the team.

DE Travis Hall, UFA – Hall played adequately in the defensive line rotation. If he is willing to return and compete for a position the 49ers should bring him back. The team however should be looking to upgrade the position.

TE Trent Smith, RFA – The 49ers should consider bringing back Trent Smith next season. The team is very weak at the linebacker position and Smith should be given the opportunity to compete for a roster spot. His experience could at the very least give the 49ers a decent veteran backup at the position.

So there you have it everyone… now all the 49ers have to do is find player to fill the wholes that these free agents will no doubt leave… and it couldn’t hurt for those players to be upgrades over last years talent.

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