The 49ers have the reputation as a talented team which has underachieved. While they do have some premier players, a quick look at their roster shows they face just as many questions as their NFC West counterparts. Starting at quarterback.
San Francisco is up next on our to-do list series. Here’s what they should do after the lockout:
1. Re-sign Alex Smith.
2. Find a starting center.
2011 starter David Baas is a free agent. Eric Heitmann is coming off a neck injury and his status is uncertain. Baas figures to be a free agent priority because there really are no other good options at the position.
3. Get Michael Crabtree on the field in training camp.
It hasn’t happened consistently in his career, whether because of his rookie holdout or sophomore injury concerns. For a player clearly not on the same page as the presumptive starting quarterback, getting some real on-field work in a new offense will be important for Crabtree. The 49ers need Crabtree to be a difference maker. Speaking of which . . .
4. Sniff around at wide receiver.
The 49ers have bigger needs, but don’t have many long-term solutions out wide. Josh Morgan is entering a contract year. Ted Ginn is unreliable.
5. Look at defensive tackles.
6. Bring back veteran defenders.
Defensive end Ray McDonald will be one of the team’s top priorities, according to CSNBayArea.com’s Matt Maiocco. Only 26, McDonald could get decent offers elsewhere. Inside linebacker Takeo Spikes also should return. He has more value to the 49ers than anyone else and San Francisco is thin at the position.
7. Settle the secondary.
They just can’t bring back cornerback Nate Clements for $7.25 million. Unless he’ll take a huge paycut, they should release him. Rookie Chris Culliver can help out at cornerback, but safety is a bigger concern.
Free safety Dashon Goldson is one of the most underrated players on the roster and may cash in on the open market. Early signs indicate the 49ers won’t “overpay” to keep him. There isn’t a quality replacement on the roster.
8. Get the rookies up to speed.
This is true for all teams, but the 49ers are counting on rookies more than most. Colin Kaepernick needs a crash course in Harbaugh in case Alex Smith faceplants. No.7 overall pick Aldon Smith needs to help the pass rush, especially with Manny Lawson likely leaving.