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Free Agency Preview: San Francisco 49ers

Free agency and salary data included in this article were sourced from Over The Cap.

The 49ers are currently projected to have $54,210,980 in cap space for 2019, assuming the league’s new salary cap will be set at $188.2 million.

2018 Summary

The San Francisco 49ers finished second to last in the NFC West with a 4-12 record. The 49ers had incredibly poor injury luck last season, which likely prevented the team from taking a step forward. Both Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo suffered season-ending ACL tears, and several other key pieces of the offense missed chunks of playing time.
Garoppolo’s injury was particularly devastating since I’m sure that the team was excited to see what their new franchise quarterback was capable of. Despite Garoppolo’s lack of experience, the 49ers signed him to an eye-popping five-year, $137.5 million contract ($74.1 million guaranteed). It’s fair to wonder if the team made the right decision.
Jimmy G
Although the sample size is quite small, the 49ers scored more points per drive with Garoppolo under center. It should be noted that the 49ers can cut Garoppolo before the 2020 NFL season for a $4.2 million hit to their cap in exchange for $22.4 million in savings. It’s quite likely that the team utilizes 2019 as a way to gauge Garoppolo’s ability as a franchise QB.
Both C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens picked up the slack in Garoppolo’s absence. The 49ers were slightly better with Mullen’s under center than they were with Beathard.
Nick Mullen's
Neither player was much to write home about, so it’ll be exciting to see how Garoppolo fares once he returns.

Offensive Free Agents

PLAYER POS. AGE 2018 AAV STATUS
Pierre Garcon WR 33 $9,500,000 UFA
Alfred Morris RB 30 $790,000 UFA
Raheem Mostert RB 27 $705,000 RFA

The 49ers tendered Raheem Mostert at the original-round level and he will slide in as a depth option behind McKinnon and Matt Breida. Neither Pierre Garcon nor Alfred Morris should be on the 49ers’ roster in 2019.

Potential Moves

The 49ers recently signed Kwon Alexander to a four-year, $54 million deal of which $27 million is guaranteed. The team has also expressed an interest in trading for Dee Ford, underscoring their intent to bolster the defensive unit. The 49ers’ defense was abysmal last season and it comes as no surprise that the front office is attempting to find upgrades via free agency.
SFO DST
On the offensive side of the ball, George Kittle emerged as one of the premier young tight ends in the NFL and was the primary receiving threat for the 49ers last season.
SFO AYA
However, the rest of the receiving corps could use an upgrade. Dante Pettis came on strong down the stretch last season, but his closest comparable players leave a lot to be desired. Marquise Goodwin and Kendrick Bourne are fine rotational players, but the team still needs to upgrade their wide receiver slot. Rumors indicate that the 49ers are aggressively pursuing Odell Beckham Jr. and it’ll be interesting to see if the Giants will trade their star WR.

Final Thoughts

Thus far, the team has only made one splashy free agent signing, and I’d expect that they’d make a few more in the coming weeks. In order for the 49ers to most effectively evaluate Garoppolo’s potential as the team’s franchise QB, they should be looking to upgrade their receiving corps. Although trading for Beckham Jr. would ostensibly be the move I’d like for them to make, the 49ers could also be candidates to draft a WR in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. A fully healthy McKinnon/Breida backfield should find success this season, and I doubt the team will pursue Le’Veon Bell.

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