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49ers maintain defensive stability by signing Rogers

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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By Dan Arkush

The Niners have made sure that arguably the league's best defense last season will remain intact after reaching a new deal with UFA CB Carlos Rogers Tuesday evening. The 30-year-old Rogers, who is coming off a career year in his first season with the Niners, reportedly signed a four-year deal worth somewhere between $30 million and $32 million. After previously franchising FS Dashon Goldson, the Niners will be returning all 11 starters from last year's stellar defense now that Rogers is in the fold. In addition, the Niners added depth at cornerback earlier in the day with the addition of former Bronco Perrish Cox, who gives the team four quality performers at the position in starters Rogers and up-and-coming Tarell Brown and backups Cox and promising second-year pro Chris Culliver.

The team's situation on the other side of the ball, however, is not looking nearly as stable with UFA WR Josh Morgan, a very popular player the team would have loved to bring back, signing a five-year, $12 million deal with the Redskins on Tuesday. In addition, UFA QB Alex Smith, whose re-signing was widely believed to be a foregone conclusion, remains unsigned despite continued indications from the Niners that a new deal is imminent.

The PFW Spin

Just when Cox's signing made it initially look like Rogers could be packing his bags for greener pastures, the Niners reached a meeting of the minds with a player who indicated early on in his tenure in the Bay Area that he wouldn't mind setting up shop in San Francisco for a long time to come. Rogers made a strong impression with his new team from the get-go, wasting no time silencing critics who questioned his hands. After registering only eight interceptions in 78 career games entering last season, Rogers tied Goldson for second in the NFC and fourth in the league with six interceptions. He also made almost every tackle count and immediately blended in with his fellow starters in the secondary, offering valuable assistance with his knowledge of all the NFC East teams on the Niners' 2011 schedule from his days with the Redskins.

Considering the reported $50 million over five years that the division-rival Rams are paying free-agent CB Cortland Finnegan, who didn't have nearly as good a season last year as Rogers, the Niners' bank account does not appear to have been burned too badly by Rogers' re-signing. That's a big deal, especially when the ill-fated $80 million deal the Niners struck with CB Nate Clements a few years back is taken into account. On the other hand, there are some who believe Rogers' career year in 2011 might represent his ceiling as a player, with less than his best play yet to come. Until he proves otherwise, though, there's every reason to believe his presence will continue to play a major part in the tremendous cohesiveness the Niners' defense displayed last season.

And the offense? Even though it sure seems to be taking longer than expected, the re-signing of Smith is still widely expected to materialize before the week runs out. But even if Smith is back, the Niners' offense will be worse off without Morgan, who would have shaped up as a rock-solid No. 3 receiver behind Michael Crabtree and newcomer Randy Moss had he not received an offer he couldn't refuse from the Redskins. With no guarantees whatsoever that the Niners' one-year, $2.5 million (up to $4 million if he reaches incentives) gamble in Moss will pay off, the Niners' WR corps continues to look disturbingly weak. There have been reports that the team could be interested in UFA WR Brandon Lloyd, but the fact that his previous three-year stint with the team featured more minuses than pluses is not the best of omens.

The Niners' well-regarded special teams also took a hit when special-teams ace Blake Costanzo signed a two-year deal with the Bears. Recent new deals for fellow core special-teamers C.J. Spillman and Tavares Gooden offset the loss of Costanzo somewhat, however.

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