Niners lose out on more veteran FA targets

The 49ers lost out on more veteran players the team was targeting in free agency when defensive end Demetric Evans, linebacker Raonall Smith and defensive tackle Sam Adams all agreed to deals Monday with other teams. Former Niners linebacker Jamie Winborn also found a new home Monday when he signed with Tampa Bay.

The biggest blow is Evans, who had visited with the 49ers last month looking for a starting opportunity in 2006. Evans could have challenged for that kind of role in the team's 3-4 defensive scheme and would have at least been a solid No. 3 end in the line rotation and provided veteran depth at the position.

Evans agreed to a multi-year deal reportedly worth $1 million a season with the Washington Redskins, where he had established himself as an effective player over the past two seasons. He also saw time at defensive tackle last season, and his inside-outside versatility had enhanced his value for the 49ers, who are looking for a legitimate 3-4 end to push incumbent starters Bryant Young and Marques Douglas and share time at the position.

The 49ers also were in the running for Smith, who received a one-year, $750,000 deal that included a $150,000 signing bonus to join the St. Louis Rams. The Niners were looking at Smith – a 6-foot-2, 241-pound product with excellent speed – to come in and challenge for playing time at one of the team's open outside linebacker positions and provide depth the team no longer has at that spot. Smith – a second-round choice of the Vikings in 2002 – also was being pursued by the Packers and Dolphins.

Smith apparently went to the Rams because he felt he had the best opportunity to succeed in new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's system. Smith can play both the weak side and strong side outside positions.

The 49ers had at least passing interest in Adams, the 13th-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler who played one season in Baltimore when Mike Nolan was there, though he was more of a long shot to join the roster than Evans or Smith. Adams – whom the Niners were looking at as an inside enforcer and run-plugger on their defensive line – signed a three-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The 49ers, of course, had no interest in signing Winborn, the team's 2001 second-round draft pick who Nolan shipped away to Jacksonville for a seventh-round draft pick early last season. Winborn played in only five games with the Jaguars before being placed on injured reserve – a place he spent plenty of time while with the 49ers – and Jacksonville did not make an effort to re-sign him before allowing him to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent.

Niners Digest Top Stories