- Team Needs

By J J Pesavento, staff writer for
Feb. 28, 2002

The Niners will be looking to sign center Jeremy Newberry, running back Garrison Hearst, fullback Fred Beasley and safety Lance Schulters, who are all free agents. Schulters has stated that he will test the free agent market. Tyronne Drakeford, Matt Willig, Terry Killens, Rick Mirer and Troy Wilson are not a high priority to the Niners and may be gone.

Quarterback Jeff Garcia and wide receiver J. J. Stokes have both agreed to rework their deals to help the Niners with the salary cap. Wide receiver Terrell Owens has yet to be approached about restructuring his deal. Owens is scheduled to make $3.6 million in base salary in 2002. Defensive tackles Bryant Young and Dana Stubblefield, offensive tackles Scott Gragg and Derrick Deese and linebacker Derek Smith and may all be asked to restructure their deals. Tight end Greg Clark, backup center Ben Lynch, defensive tackle Reggie McGrew, cornerback Anthony Parker and Pro Bowl guard Ray Brown may all be potential cap casualties.

The team will be looking for depth at cornerback, safety, offensive line and wide receiver during the off-season.

Because of previous cap violations, the Niners will have no third round pick. That means their picks in the early rounds obviously become even more important. 

Look for the Niners to shore up the offensive line in the opening round. Some possible picks would include Toniu Fonoti (Nebraska), Kendall Simmons (Auburn) and Terrance Metcalf (Mississippi). With Lance Schulters possibly leaving, safety may become a priority come round two. Lamont Thompson (Washington State), Michael Lewis (Colorado), Pig Prather (Mississippi State) and Ramon Walker (Pittsburgh) would all help to fill the hole should he leave. With the crop of wide receivers in this draft, we have to believe the Niners will try to add someone to complement Terrell Owens. Brian Poli-Dixon (UCLA), Cliff Russell (Utah), Nakoa McElrath (Washington State) and Kahlil Hilk (Iowa) may all be possible selections to help at wideout. The Niners will also address depth at cornerback in the draft. The middle rounds will likely have players like Glenn Sumter (Memphis), Sheldon Brown (South Carolina), Cedric Henry (Michigan State) and Steve Smith to possibly choose from.