Word from the Cleveland Plain Dealer is that the San Francisco 49ers are one of five teams showing interest in acquiring the services of Josh Cribbs via free agency. The eight-year veteran receiver and return specialist has spent his entire career with the Cleveland Browns, but he’s fully prepared to head elsewhere this off-season.
Cribbs is a dynamic threat in the return game, which is something the Niners should be actively searching for leading up to the 2013 season, but there are far too many concerns surrounding the 29-year old for me to justify him making his way to the Bay Area.
With the NFL‘s free agency period set to kick off Tuesday, it probably won’t be long before Cribbs finds a new home. The speedster has always been a threat on kickoff and punt returns, and even caught 41 passes for 518 yards and four touchdowns in 2011. Surely someone is going to send a reasonable offer his way.
That said, it shouldn’t be San Francisco, despite their need for help both at the wide receiver position and in the return game.
For starters, Cribbs is just months away from turning 30, and blazing speed is an asset that doesn’t stick around well into a player’s 30s. Secondly, according to Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, Cribbs has fumbled the ball 34 times in his career (the most by a non-QB among active players), with 17 of those coming on punt returns.
Additionally, he’s suffered at least three concussions in his career, and it’s very possible one more could force him to hang up the cleats for good.
If it was possible to land Cribbs for a short-term, team-friendly deal, I might be more for it. But that’s not going to happen considering he feels he can still bring a lot to the table, and that this is likely his last chance at landing somewhat of a decent contract before his career is over. Just after hearing that there are five teams showing interest, I can tell you Cribbs coming to San Francisco this year is a long shot at best.
The 49ers usually aren’t shy about showing interest in a free agent that could fill a position of need, but they certainly aren’t about to get into a bidding war with anybody over a soon-to-be 30-year old free agent with a handful of question marks. Special teams coordinator Brad Seely does have experience working with Cribbs from his time in Cleveland, so that could be the reason (or one of) the Niners are exploring this option.
But unless Seely and the 49ers know something I don’t, which is entirely possible, I just can’t see the benefit of using precious cap room on such a gamble like Cribbs.