A chaotic coaching search, surprise retirements, starters leaving via free agency…it seems like anything that can go wrong for the San Francisco 49ers these days absolutely will.
While much of the attention has been placed on the negative events, it’s easy to miss the fact that general manager Trent Baalke has done a good job bringing in some established veterans to help aid in the transition.
Here’s a look at six free agents the 49ers have added to their roster so far this offseason:
The 49ers handed Smith the biggest free agent contract for an offensive player in franchise history in order to give the team a deep threat they so desperately need.
Smith made his living down-field during his four years with the Baltimore Ravens, averaging 16.9 yards per catch. Out of 434 career targets, 142 of them have come on throws of 20 or more yards. He’s scored 15 times on those attempts.
Like any big play threat, Smith’s presence will open up opportunities for underneath for Anquan Boldin, and allow Vernon Davis to get favorable matchups. He could be just what the doctor ordered for a what was a sluggish 49ers’ offense in 2014.
Adding Bush to the mix at running back may signal a change in philosophy to the team’s passing attack, as they rarely threw to their backs under Jim Harbaugh.
Bush specializes in catching the ball out of the backfield, and has 466 career receptions. Incorporating that added dimension on offense will only help Colin Kaepernick grow as a quarterback.
Dockett brings a veteran presence to the front and will be a big part of the pass rush in nickel packages. He’ll play the defensive tackle position when the 49ers play four down lineman, which is where Smith and McDonald have been in previous seasons.
At 34, it remains to be seen how much Dockett has left after missing all of last year with a knee injury, but if healthy he can still be a force in the trenches.
It will be interesting to see where the 49ers see Pears fitting in, as the veteran offensive lineman has started games at every position except center during his eight-year career.
At 6’8 and 305 pounds, Pears had the size to play tackle, and could be an upgrade over Jonathan Martin.
Signing a corner who struggled as much as Wright did the past two seasons seems like a questionable move. According to Pro Football Focus, Wright graded out in the bottom 10 amongst cornerbacks in 2013 (-11.1) and 2014 (-16.4).
Considering Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox have both moved on, Wright has a chance to complete for the starting job opposite Tramaine Brock. His primary competition on the outside will most likely be Dontae Johnson and Chris Cook.
Baalke has an excellent track record of bringing in corners that fit the 49ers’ system, but the addition of Wright is still puzzling. Only time will tell though if Wright is a bust, or another diamond in the rough.
A lot was made of the Simpson signing, considering the off-the-field issues the troubled receiver has had. He was out of the league altogether last season, and faces an up hill battle for a roster spot.
On the field however, Simpson is a low-risk player who has a chance to make the team as the fifth or sixth receiver. He’s another guy who can get down-field, as he averaged 15.1 yards per catch in 2013 with the Minnesota Vikings.
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