With each passing day, the San Francisco 49ers are slowly remaking the roster. Their latest free agents to leave are tight end Delanie Walker and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga. Walker signed a four-year deal with the Tennessee Titans while Sopoaga joined the Philadelphia Eagles under a three-year deal.
Walker has his share of strengths. He is a valuable contributor on the special teams unit, a sound blocker and can put pressure on opposing defenses with his speed. In 2012, Walker averaged an impressive 16.4 yards per reception. Jim Harbaugh even called him “The Swiss Army Knife” for his versatility. Even though Walker brought positives to the table, he dropped too many passes in crucial moments.
Looking at the overall picture, Walker was a key contributor during his tenure in the Bay. But seeking a starter’s salary, it would not be reasonable for San Francisco to re-sign him as they already have Vernon Davis making over $7 million a year. The incoming tight end may not replace Walker single-handedly, but with general manager Trent Baalke’s eye for talent, he’ll find the pieces to replace him using a variety of players.
Much like Walker, Sopoaga has been a 49er for his entire career. Together, they’ve been through thick and thin. In the past two seasons, Sopoaga helped anchor the 49ers run defense into the top five. However, given his age and decline in production, San Francisco made the smart move to let him go. The team is currently looking at 27-year-old Glenn Dorsey as a possible replacement. If Dorsey and the 49ers do not reach an agreement, I can see Baalke snagging a nose tackle with an early-round pick in April’s NFL Draft.
The recently-departed veterans played vital roles in the franchise’s recent run of success. But in the cold-hearted business that is the NFL, players come and go.
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