Free agents filling roles instead of making headlines in San Francisco

By Jeff Dickinson  |   Monday, March 09, 2009  |  Comments( 1 )

San Francisco 49ers
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While NFL teams like the Washington Redskins have made headlines this offseason by adding big-name free agents, the San Francisco 49ers have taken a less glamorous route.

So far since free agency began, the 49ers have signed Damon Huard, Demetric Evans and Brandon Jones. Not exactly stars, eh? But San Francisco's decision to address needs could go a long way toward a successful 2009 season.

Just like the Transformers, San Francisco’s free agents offer more than meets the eye.

Demetric Evans, DE – In his seven years in the NFL, Evans has played in all 16 games five times. He hasn’t missed a game since the 2002 season with the Dallas Cowboys. Evans may not be the impact player the caliber of Albert Haynesworth, but he did have 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks for the Redskins last season. How does that compare with San Francisco’s current defensive ends? Justin Smith led the 49ers at the position last season with seven sacks, but Kentwan Balmer didn’t have any sacks and Ray McDonald added just one. If Evans can bring the consistency he has shown over the past five seasons, he will add to the 49ers’ depth on the defensive line.

Brandon Jones, WR – The 49ers lost Bryant Johnson and his 45 receptions for 545 yards, but they hope Jones will more than make up for that. Johnson was second on the 49ers with three touchdown catches last season, trailing only Isaac Bruce’s seven. Jones had similar numbers for the Tennessee Titans in 2008, catching 41 passes for 449 yards. Johnson and Jones had more similarities when comparing yards per catch and yards after the catch. Johnson averaged 12.1 yards per catch, while Jones added 11.0. Johnson also averaged 3.6 yards after each reception, while Jones' mean was 3.1. Jones isn’t going to be a No. 1-caliber receiver for the 49ers next season, but he will adequately fill an important offensive role on the team.

Damon Huard, QB – San Francisco fans may have been enamored by the thought of Kurt Warner bringing his gunslinging ability to the Bay Area, but that obviously didn’t happen. Shaun Hill is the team’s No. 1 quarterback as of now, and Alex Smith has a chance to compete for the position once the restructuring of his contract is completed. Huard, most recently with the Chiefs, is no Warner, but he has shown the ability over his eight-year career to step in and lead a team to victory. Huard has a career completion percentage of 60.7 percent and has thrown 33 career touchdowns to 26 interceptions. What Huard does for the 49ers is give them a veteran backup to Hill and Smith who can fill in if there is an injury.
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About Jeff Dickinson

I have been writing and editing professionally for 18 years. I spent the first three years of my career as a sportswriter for a daily newspaper in Alabama and got to cover sports and get paid for it! It was great until I got married and then it wasn't too much fun being away from my wife every...
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