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How The San Francisco 49ers Are Approaching Free Agency And The Rest Of The NFL Off-Season

The San Francisco 49ers are headed into an all-important offseason for the head coach and general manager combination of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.

San Francisco has won a grand total of 10 games in the two seasons with this duo leading the charge. And while they’ve built a talented young roster, a ton of work remains.

The good news here is San Francisco has a Brinks truck worth of cash to spend in free agency. It’s also been linked to one of the game’s top wide receivers.

Expiring Contracts 

San Francisco has already pretty much notified the likes of Malcolm Smith, Earl Mitchell and Pierre Garcon that they will not be back with the team in 2019. Releasing the three would save this team north of $5 million against the cap.

San Francisco also has a decision to make with defensive tackle Arik Armstead, a former first-round pick. It can save $9.05 million against the cap by releasing him.

Of the pending free agents, look for San Francisco to make strong pitches to kicker Robbie Gould and punter Bradley Pinion. Both have been among the best players at their position over the past couple seasons. The 49ers would like to lock both of them up before the start of the new league year.

We also wouldn’t be surprised if Pro Bowl defensive lineman DeForest Buckner were signed to a long-term deal. He’s eligible for a rookie extension this offseason. Given Buckner’s otherworldly performance this past season, said deal might cap out at $100-plus million.

Team Needs 

Where to start? One major weakness for the 49ers since Shanahan and Lynch took over has been EDGE pass rusher. Shanahan has said as much — indicating that it will be an off-season priority for the 49ers. In fact, the 49ers would be smart to add both a free agent pass rusher and one in the draft.

Despite Richard Sherman’s excellent play last season, the 49ers are also in need of cornerback help. Second-year defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon struggled big time last season. Outside of that, there’s not a whole lot to look at here. Realistically, adding a starter-caliber corner in free agency has to be one of the 49ers’ most-pressing off-season needs.

On the offensive side of the ball, a true No. 1 receiver to go with Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle and young pass catcher Dante Pettis would be really nice. Shanahan has noted multiple times in the past that if you can add a player of Julio Jones’ ilk at receiver, you do everything possible to make it come to fruition.

With the quarterback and running back positions likely set, San Francisco can also target an interior offensive lineman to replace the stopgap option that is Mike Person. Moving on from former first-round pick Josh Garnett will only add to this need. Ideally, the 49ers would like to add a guard in both the draft and free agency.

Off-Season Targets 

It’s reasonable to expect that the 49ers will go after a few big-name players. That list already includes Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown via a trade and former Richard Sherman teammate, safety Earl Thomas. Both play positions of utmost need for the 49ers and would be major additions to the young roster.

With what’s expected to be north of $70 million in cap room, San Francisco’s targets should primarily include free agents coming off their rookie deals — players with a long-term future in Santa Clara. That list includes defensive ends Demarcus Lawrence and Jadeveon Clowney as well as linebacker Anthony Barr and cornerback Bradley Roby.

Selecting No. 2 overall, the 49ers might have an ace in the hole when April comes calling. Teams selecting behind them in the top 10 of the 2019 NFL Draft are in desperate need of adding a quarterback. This makes a potential trade down with the Jaguars, Giants or Broncos possible. In turn, San Francisco could use the draft capital it receives in a hypothetical trade to add Brown to the mix.

If Lynch and Co. were to stand pat at two, pass rushers Nick Bosa (Ohio State) and Josh Allen (Kentucky) are likely candidates to be swooped up. Defensive tackles Quinnen Williams (Alabama) and Ed Oliver (Houston) are less-likely options at two. The same can be said for LSU cornerback Greedy 

 

 

This article originally appeared on Forbes