Mike Wallace, restricted free agent of the Pittsburgh Steelers, will not be franchise tagged, but tendered.
Teams will now be able to offer Wallace, but the Steelers will have the chance to match the offer and obtain Wallace or receive a first round draft pick from the team that signs Wallace.
Many teams will be after Wallace, but he fits perfectly with the San Francisco 49ers. His playmaking ability will fit perfectly in the 49ers offense. The 49ers desperately need a receiver like Wallace and he is well worth a first round draft pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
In the 2012 NFL draft, receivers like Mohamed Sanu, Alshon Jeffrey and Reuben Randle will be available in the first round for the 49ers. None of them project to be as productive as Wallace, which makes him worth a first round draft pick. The 49ers’ biggest needs in the 2012 NFL draft are corners and receivers and they can still grab a quality corner in the second round.
In 2011, Wallace was selected to his first Pro Bowl after hauling in 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Wallace has now led the Steelers in receiving touchdowns for the past two seasons and could be the next leader for San Francisco.
The main reason he fits best with the 49ers, is how he compliments 49ers receiver, Michael Crabtree. Since being drafted with the 49ers’ first round draft pick in 2009, number ten overall, Crabtree has disappointed. However, 2011 was a breakout year for Crabtree by having 72 catches for 874 yards, but only four touchdowns.
Crabtree is beginning to come into his own and he showed much more maturity with his effort on the field in 2011. He could be a solid possession receiver for quarterback Alex Smith in 2012. Crabtree’s 12.4 yards per catch in 2011 compared to Wallace’s 16.6, which was actually a career low for him, shows how Crabtree’s short possession skills complement perfectly with Wallace’s deep threat ability.
Alex Smith could have three solid threats to defenses in 2012 with Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Mike Wallace. The 49ers must realize that Wallace is worth a first round draft pick in the 2012 NFL draft and make a serious run after the gifted playmaker.