The NFL season is now officially over so now the San Francisco 49ers can focus on their roster. So without wasting any more time, let’s play “keep him or let him walk.”
Phil Dawson, K
Really? I’m starting off the list of the most important 49er free agents with a kicker? Well, the reason I’m starting it with is Dawson is because this move is really no-brainer. During the season he was 32-36 and at one point made a franchise-record 27 straight field goals. In the playoffs he made all seven of his attempts including the game winner against the Packers. He is a very reliable weapon and San Francisco makes themselves better if they bring him back. Keep him.
Tarell Brown, CB
Brown has spent his entire career with the 49ers (7 years) and has been an important piece to how dominant the Niners defense has become. In 2013, the 49ers had the seventh best passing defense and it’s a credit to the secondary as a unit. The fact the he really isn’t a “house hold name” could work in San Francisco’s favor in terms of negotiation and if he chooses to depart they still have options with Tramaine Brock and the return of Chris Culliver. I have a feeling that both Brown and Carlos Rogers won’t be back and at this stage of their careers, Brown appears to have a bit more upside so if the 49ers have to make a choice I’d go with Brown. Keep him.
Donte Whitner, S
Whitner had an outstanding 2013 season and became a leader for the team. His ability to cover is suspect at times, but he is one of the better tacklers in the league and at times an intimidating force due to his big hits. Penalties are a big concern as he draws 15-yard penalties because of those hits. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that he took Eric Reid under his wing and was a key factor to Reid’s great rookie year.
This would seem like a no-doubter because of his production and the fact that it would be difficult to replace what Whitner brings, but when it comes down to it, somebody is going to overpay him. With Michael Crabtree, Colin Kaepernick and Aldon Smith waiting for big deals next year I highly doubt that San Francisco will give Whitner the type of money he seeks.
Bottom line: I say keep him if he stays for cheap but if he gets a Dashon Goldston type deal then let him walk.
Anquan Boldin, WR
The woes of the 49ers’ passing offense were well documented this season (ranked 30th) but it had nothing to with with Boldin as he and Vernon Davis were the only threats the 49ers had much of the season.
Acquired from Baltimore for only a sixth round pick, Boldin came to San Francisco and had a great year. He rarely dropped any balls, moved the chains cosistently and more importantly brought a level of toughness to the offense that was great to watch. At 33, the miles on his body may start to creep up on him so I believe they both can come to a short term deal if he truly wants to stay, which I believe he does. Having him and a healthy Micheal Crabtree next season would definitely help the offense be more consistent. Boldin returning is a must. Keep him.