49ers Clubhouse 

49er Free Agents

February 13, 2003

by Rob Baker
Clubhouse Writer and Draft Analyst

Well, here's my second installment of if I was TD. Seeing I'm the GM, Jeff, shut up! When TO speaks out, he has a point, you're just flapping your mouth trying to show that you're a team leader. Mate, how is a coaching search meant to go? Interviewing the two best defensive coaches (statistically) isn't good enough for you is it? Going after a guy held responsible for developing on of the leagues best QB's (Brad Childress developing Donovan McNabb) is embarrassing? All said no, but at least the niners tried, embarrassing would be taking the first chump coach that says yes to you. The niners are searching for a guy with balls, a guy that will keep the team in check, a guy that will get us to where we belong, the Super Bowl. Mooch should have been sacked last year so Jon Gruden could have lead us to the Super Bowl!

Secondly, well done Mooch. He got a massive contract and a team to re-build. In my opinion, Mooch will end up being known as a 're-building' coach, but I don't think he has that killer instinct to take a team to the Super Bowl. So in four or five years time, when Detroit has a playoff team, but can't get to the Super Bowl, Mooch will be sacked again, and set of to re-build another team. 

Third, Dennis Erickson should be a nice fit in the bay, still would have liked to have seen Cottrell be the head coach, but hey, Erickson looks to be the right stuff. But overall, I still would have chosen Denis Green. What about bringing Marty Mornhinweg back to San Fran? He did a good job with the offence while he was around.

Now onto the niners free agents, and before anything, I'd be talking to TO and getting him to sign on for the rest of his career, no matter what the cost! Lets face it, without TO, we'll have a running game, that's it, who wins Super Bowls with a running game? Now days you need a running games, a passing game and a defense. The Broncos could put anyone at HB and they'd get 1000 yards. The niners can put anyone at QB and get a possible Pro Bowler. How hard can a passing game be when the average yards per attempt is 6.3? You just need to be accurate to succeed. Without TO, I would hate to see what happens to this offence! There is no doubt he is the best WR in the league, so he'll want to be paid like the best WR in the league, and I'd pay him every cent that he's worth!

Now TO's signed, lets have a look at the free agents:


# 45 Tim Hauck
6'0" 187 lbs 36 yo 12 years pro
2002 salary: $ 750 000
2002 stats: 3 gms 2 solo tckls

At 36, Hauck should be looking at retirement, if not, a rookie F/A can fill in and easily match those stats, and have a lower salary. Not coming back!


# 91 Chike Okeafor
6'4" 265 lbs 26 yo 4 years pro
2002 salary: $ 563 000
2002 stats: 16 gms 43 solo tckls 11 ast tckls 6 sacks

Tough one. No doubt a better starter than Engelburger, but I'd defiantly look to draft or sign a pass rushing DE, so he'll be fighting in camp for a starting spot in 2003. It will depend if he wants to fight to start on this team, or does he want to go and look for a starting spot that he can claim as his own, and I wouldn't be surprised if he could find a team willing to give him a starting spot. If he stays and doesn't get a starting spot, he's a great backup.


# 89 Tai Streets
6'2" 206 lbs 25 yo 4 years pro
2002 stats: 15 gms 72 rec 756 yrds 5 TD

Same as Okeafor, could find a starters job elsewhere, and I'll be looking for a WR in the draft/free agency, so he'll have to fight for a starting spot. But in a few years time, I think he'll be a good starter, but not great. Ideally, opposite TO I'd like someone that can run like the wind, stretch defenders, and give another receiving threat so TO can't be triple teamed, but Streets this season didn't step up into that spot. But he is improving every season, so 2003 might be the time that he becomes a big threat. If Streets is willing to come back for cheep bucks, and willing to be the 3rd receiver, I'd give him a contract, but in my opinion, other teams will give him better offers.


# 60 Ben Lynch
6'4" 295 lbs 30 yo 4 years pro
2002 salary: $ 450 000

I'm not convinced that Lynch would be able to step up for Newberry if Newberry was injured for a long period of time. Need to get a backup center that will do a decent job if called upon, Lynch isn't that man.


# 77 Matt Willig
6'8" 315 lbs 33 yo 11 years pro
2002 salary: $ 650 000

Definitely re-sign. Good backup at both left tackle and left guard. Adds some depth to weak backup linemen.



# 86 Brian Jennings
6'5" 245 lbs 26 yo 3 years pro
2002 salary: $ 375 000

Again, re-sign without a doubt. A good long snapper, and maybe one day, could catch one or two passes at TE, but don't count on it. 


# 13 Tim Rattay
6'0" 215 lbs 25 yo 2 years pro
2002 salary: $ 375 000
2002 stats: 4 gms 26/43 comp 60.3% 232 yrds 2 TD 0 int 90.5 QB rating

Who will be the next starter for the niners, Tim Rattay, Brandon Doman or Cade McNown? One needs to go, the niners can't have four QBs on the roster again. My opinion, Cade McNown will take the reigns from Jeff Garcia in a few years time when Garcia is retired. But who'll be the backup, Rattay or Doman? The drafting of Doman has always been a question mark for me. Yes he'll be a good QB, probably a career backup, but why draft him when the niners already had Garcia, Rattay, Gio Carmazzi and Aaron Garcia fighting for spots on the roster? But back to Rattay. Basically either get rid of Rattay or Doman before this season. Rattay is the better QB, but I can't see him signing for a 3rd QB price. Basically, in a time that price is everything, keep the cheaper 3rd QB, let Rattay try and get a starters job. Just a quick comment, Jack Plummer is out of contract, what do you guys think about trading away Garcia, get Plummer who has always been a West Coast offence QB and see the difference.


# 43 Duane Hawthorne
5'10" 175 lbs 26 yo 4 years pro
2002 stats: 12 gms 17 solo tckls 4 ast tckls 1 int 15 yrds

Hawthorne's place in the niner squad will probably depend on how he fares in pre-season camps. Will be fighting for a backup place in an injury-prone secondary. I'd take him due to his experience, but a minimum wage.


# 88 Justin Swift
6'3" 265 lbs 27 yo 3 years played
2002 salary: $ 375 000
2002 stats: 9 gms 10 rec 63 yrds

Backup TE who is slowly seeing more game time as the years go on. A reliable backup who blocks well, and when a pass is thrown to him, usually grabs it. No reason to release him unless a more reliable and cheap backup can be found in the draft/free agency.


# 38 Ronnie Heard
6'3" 215 lbs 26 yo 3 years pro
2002 salary: $ 375 000
2002 stats:12 gms 34 solo tckls 8 ast tckls 4 int 60 yrds

With an injury plagued secondary last season, Heard started in six games, and while he wasn't amazing, showed that he is capable of filling in when injury occurs. A good quality backup is definitely needed with the injury prone Zack Bronson in the squad, and Heard is capable of replacing him.


# 28 John Keith
6'0" 207 lbs 25 yo 3 years pro
2002 salary: $ 300 000
2002 stats: 7 gms 11 solo tckls 5 ast tckls 

In his rookie season, Keith earned his way into the starting lineup and looked to be the next big time safety for the niners. But then the injuries came, breaking his arm in his rookie season, tearing his ACL on the opening kickoff in his sophomore season and again his knee last season. Now here's the choice, keep him around this season and risk him missing out on half the season again (this year was a good year for him, he played 7 games!), but he may remain uninjured and become the hard hitting safety that he looked liked he'd become in his rookie year. Or he could be released, so he could be injured or be a star at another franchise. With Kevin Curtis around, and Ronnie Heard, it will be tough to earn a place, but I'd give him his final chance, give him a one year contract with an option for two more if he doesn't end up on the IR, if he does, don't take up the option. Go into the season with five safety's, and considering last season's injury toll, we'll need them.


# 54 Quincy Stewart
6'1" 220 lbs 24 yo 2 years pro
2002 salary: $ 300 000
2002 stats: 13 gms 5 solo tckls 2 ast tkls 1 int 0 yrds

Will have to fight for a spot in camp. Showed signs of better play compared to his rookie season, but I'm not sure if he'll be able to beat out competition brought in during camp.


# 25 Vinnie Sutherland
5'8" 188 lbs 2 years pro

Jimmy Williams showed he can handle return duties. Simply, Sutherland isn't as good, so he's not needed, and his behavioral problems aren't wanted around the franchise. 


# 4 Bill LaFluer
6'0" 204 lbs 26 yo 1 year pro
2002 salary: $225 000
2002 stats: 22 punts 805 yrds 36.6 avg 33.1 net avg

Jason baker averaged 40.2 yards on his punts. It's time for the niners to buy a quality punter, not just a free agent rookie, or another franchise's reject.


After all this, have a look at my new look line up:

GM: Rob Baker
Coach: Dennis Green
Offensive Coordinator: Marty Mornhinweg 
Defensive Coordinator: Ray Rhodes
 WR  T.Owens  J.Stokes  
 LT  D.Deese  M.Willig  
 LG  D.Fiore  E.Heitmann  
 C  J.Newberry    
 RG  R.Stone  E.Heitmann  
 RT  S.Gragg  K.Kosier  
 TE  E.Johnson  J.Swift  M.Anelli B.Jennings
 WR  C.Wilson    
 QB  J.Garcia  C.McNown  B.Doman
 HB  G.Hearst  K.Barlow  P.Smith J.Robertson
 FB  F.Beasley  T.Jackson  
 LE  C.Okeafor  J.Engelberger  
 DT  B.Young  J.Flanigan  
 DT  D.Stubblefield  J.Shaw  
 RE  A.Carter  S.Moran  
 LOLB  J.Peterson  S.Rasheed  F.Strong
 LILB  D.Smith  B.Moore  
 RILB  J.Ulbrich  J.Winborn  
 CB  A.Plummer  J.Williams  R.Holman
 CB  J.Webster  M.Rumph  D.Hawthorne
 SS  T.Parrish  R.Heard  K.Curtis 
 FS  Z.Bronson  J.Keith  
Special Teams
 K  J.Chandler  Jeff Chandler  

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