Tuesday, April 3, 2012

NFL Free Agency Talk 2012: If You're Going to San Francisco...

By Jake Heston

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This time last year, NFL free agency talk was all about Heisman winner Cam Newton's rookie contract (four years, $22 million, setting the standard for the Rookie Contract rule of the 2011 CBA), and the Patriots’ so-called "big moves" with signing Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth.

The Newton deal paid off for the Panthers as far as the regular season went, but did not result in any playoff games, as Cam put up record numbers for a rookie. On the other hand, Chad and Albert ended up having little to do with the Pats' Super Bowl run. Looking back, the two deals couldn't have taken less similar paths. Cam threw for over 4,000 yards at a 60% completion rate, with a QB rating of 84.5—all top honors for the 2011 NFL Rookie quarterback class, while Chad had just 15 catches for 276 yards all year, spending more time on twitter chatting with his new Bostonian neighbors than practicing to bring them a championship.

Cam's first touchdown pass of 21 his rookie season:

Chad Ochocinco's only touchdown catch of the 2011-12 Patriot campaign:

12 months later, with the NFL Draft just three weeks away, let’s look at the top off season move so far of 2012:

Other than the Peyton Manning/Tim Tebow saga, there's no doubt that the story of 2012 has been the San Francisco 49ers. With the acquisition of future Hall of Famer Randy Moss and 2x Super Bowl Champions Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs, the 49ers are poised to make it back to the NFC Championship game.

It will be interesting to observe the veteran personalities of Moss and Jacobs as they begin to assimilate into the fired-up-from-last-season SF locker room.

Randy Moss has been outspoken his whole career. Brandon Jacobs fought more with Giants fans and players the past two years than with opposing defensive lines. When you throw those two into the the equation with outspoken players like Vernon Davis, who recently told CSNCalifornia.com that he is a fan of Randy Moss amongst other things, and new-to-fame head coach, Jim Harbaugh, there's no telling if you're going to get a homogeneous or a heterogeneous mixture. Sprinkle a dose of a somewhat disrespected Alex Smith at QB on top, and you have a recipe for disaster. So when things don't click right away, don't be surprised if you see finger pointing. I can't wait to see how Harbaugh handles that pressure.

Much like last year, and with any good team in the NFL, the 49er defense is going to be catamount in consolidating its newfound powerful and flamboyant offense. 77.2 rushing YPG against (1st in the NFL) was enough to give the Niners the NFL's fourth best overall defense last season - perhaps practicing against the new, star-studded offensive system will work wonders for their pass defense, which ranked 16th in the NFL last season.

There is a lot of football to be played, and it will certainly be interesting to see how the power NFL Free Agency moves of the 49ers pan out in the NFC playoff race. In the end, I won't be surprised to see them repeat their run of last season, except instead of losing to the Giants in the NFC title game, they'll be losing to the Packers.

Feel free to reach out to Jake on twitter @Jheston0p

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