(.. do you see what I did there? Steal? Steelers? bwahaha…)
The expiration date to lock up the NFL’s franchise players has come and gone, and there are a few receivers to take a look at in free agency. I wrote about Marques Colston from the Saints, but there’s another possibility out there that won’t break the 49ers’ bank.
This is the most enticing argument for chasing after a young, talented restricted free agent such as Mike Wallace, who might qualify as the best deep-threat receiver in the NFL. NFC West fans might remember Wallace’s 95-yard touchdown reception against Arizona last season, or his 53-yard reception against Seattle, or his 46-yarder against St. Louis. Wallace would give the 49ers the deep-threat wideout their rotation has been lacking.
There are a few factors to consider for both the team and the free agent:
- The 49ers have the 30th first-round pick. Based on the value of this player, the 49ers would need to give up their first round selection to the Steelers, which doesn’t hurt so much when it’s practically a 2nd round pick. Only the Patriots and Giants have a worse selection on day one.
- The 49ers also have to outbid other teams. Yeah, Pittsburgh wants Mike Wallace back. However they don’t have the salary cap space. San Francisco does. In fact, the 49ers could decide that Mike Wallace would be worth more than what Michael Crabtree is making, and that would be okay.
- Who are the deep threats on the current 49ers roster? Ted Ginn who couldn’t catch a football if he had glue stuck to his gloves? Vernon Davis, a big tight end who is used to block as well? Wallace becomes that guy, with Crabtree being the short threat, perhaps Josh Morgan in the slot and Vernon Davis causing defensive mis-matchups.
- The 49ers are a run-first based team. Being able to stretch the field occasionally to keep the defenses honest and not “stack the box” with 8 players against Frank Gore will lead to a better success as SF moves the ball down the field. They had red zone troubles all season last year, but if Mike Wallace can break free for big scores, there’s no need to play within the 20-yard line.
Mike Wallace is only 25 years old and his top success is still ahead of him. If the teal captains can keep egos in check, the red & gold can see another successful season in 2012.