While football fans are mired in that uncomfortable space between the franchise tag deadline and the start of free agency, the only thing left to do -- other than twiddle our thumbs -- is ponder what may transpire.
If you're a 49ers fan, you're probably currently flirting with the notion that Peyton Manning might end up sporting the red and gold. But if you're an individual whose fandom is grounded in reality, you're probably only concerned with what the 49ers will do at the wide receiver position.
Much has been said about the unusually deep free agent wideout class of 2012, both on this blog as well as countless others. Big names -- like Dwayne Bowe and Desean Jackson -- were franchised, taking them off the board completely, while others -- such as Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston -- are going to be suited by teams the moment that the flood gates open. There's one name that hasn't been tossed around very much; a name that the 49ers wouldn't be wrong for looking at -- Laurent Robinson.
He's not the flashiest option, but his career exploded midway through 2011, similar to New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. Originally drafted in 2007 by the Falcons out of Illinois State, Robinson struggled with injuries over the first few years of his career. He was traded to the Rams, where he again was underwhelming. His injury troubles continued, and after being released by St. Louis, he bounced from the Chargers to the Cowboys, where he finally capitalized on some playing time. Ironically, an injury to Miles Austin would be his launching pad -- he stepped in and became arguably the most dominant receiver in Texas.
I became particularly familiar with Robinson when I picked him up off the fantasy waiver wire. Robinson was a fantasy animal, racking up 858 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 8 games.
What makes Robinson so intriguing for the 49ers is what you find as you dig deeper into the stat sheet. He impressed with his abilities in the red zone. 7 of Robinson's 11 touchdowns came inside the 20 yard line -- that's a stat that has to make you drool.
Robinson isn't exceptionally sized (6'2", 210 lbs), but he's a jump ball type of receiver with strong hands. Contrary to what many 49ers fans may think, getting the ball downfield isn't the primary problem -- most games they were fairly successful between the 20s. It was once they got inside the red zone that the 49ers always seemed to stall out. Robinson could be a step towards solving that problem, both creating a target for Alex Smith as well as opening up space for Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. What's more -- he may be affordable as he slides under the free agent radar this off season.
The Cowboys will want to resign him, but with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin already solidified as starting wide receivers for Dallas, Robinson may not want to continue playing third fiddle. Jerry Jones may also use Robinson's injury-filled history as a reason to tender a smaller contract, driving down his price for other suitors around the league.
San Francisco is a destination where Robinson could emerge as a number one receiver and that could play to the 49ers' advantage in negotiations. His price will depend on how the market unfolds when free agency opens and how badly Jerry Joned wants him back.
How much is Robinson worth? Definitely not Mike Wallace money. But Trent Baalke said it himself -- they'll explore every option, and Laurent Robinson could be a viable one for the 49ers offense in 2012.