It’s been a disappointing offseason out here in Northern California for the two storied, but recently troubled Bay Area football teams. While many teams are out making aggressive moves, taking advantage of the unusually wide open free agent pool, the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders have not only stood pat, but they’ve both seemed content to lose their players.
I’ll start with the Niners, since I care less, and they seemed poised to be bigger players in the free agent market. Their lone acquisition is a guy who doesn’t even exist according to ESPN. I tried to see what this Madieu Williams guy is all about, but he doesn’t even have a player profile on espn.com. Word on the street is they’ve also signed David Akers, but I don’t know if kickers count, so I won’t bother to confirm that. On the other side of the coin, the 49ers have seemed to lose another player each day. Granted, for the most part, they were considered expendable, though I’m not sure why in many cases. They let Nate Clements walk – he went to Cincinnati. Takeo Spikes’ run in SF was widely considered to be over, so he headed south to San Diego. However, Manny Lawson, David Baas, and particularly Aubrayo Franklin, seemed to still have a place on this roster. Instead, they sat on their thumbs while those three departed for the Bengals, Giants, and Saints, respectively. The one guy they bothered to re-sign, and thus give a seventh chance, is quarterback Alex Smith. Jim Harbaugh is the savior, so surely he can be the one to tap Alex Smith’s unharnessed potential, right? The sole consolation on the West side of the Bay is that the Niners haven’t let go of any of their core players. Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree are all still there. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about the team across the water in the biggity-biggity O (that’s Rappin 4-Tay in Playas Club for anyone who missed it)
Over on the warmer side of the Bay, the Raiders have also stood on the sidelines while other teams took their players. They actually voided the contract of possibly their best player, Nnamdi Asomugha, so that at least softened the blow when he ultimately signed with Philadelphia. At least we knew he wasn’t coming back. After that, at least the losses of Bruce Gradkowski and Thomas Howard to Cincinnati and Robert Gallery to Seattle won’t be crippling the team necessarily. They did re-sign Michael Huff and Sam Williams, among others, as well as throwing about $50 million at Kamerion Wimbley to keep him in Oakland. But, all of that can’t overcome the loss of tight end Zach Miller. I wasn’t the hugest fan of the guy, but there were more than a few games when he was the only guy producing on the entire team. Obviously a few other guys have to deliver in order for the team to move the chains, but more often than not, the guy with the ball when it crossed the first down marker was Miller. With the unestablished receiving corps that consists of Louis Murphy, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Jacoby Ford, the nimble tight end was almost always the guy to find some open space for whatever quarterback the Raiders have in dodging uncontested pass rushers. Part of me wants to find solace in the fact that Al Davis isn’t out there throwing money at whoever the best players on paper are, but the majority of me wonders if they can overcome the loss of such an integral part of their offense (if you can call it that).