The San Francisco 49ers were incredibly active this past offseason under their new regime, and it’s safe to say they’ll be plenty active next offseason. The 49ers had over $90 million in cap space this past offseason, and could have over $100 million in cap space this coming offseason.
The team was plenty active, with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan signing 33 non-rookie free agents. They jumped on things early, signing cornerback K’Waun Williams, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell prior to the start of free agency. They jumped on things on day one, signing Pierre Garçon, Brian Hoyer, Kyle Juszczyk, Malcolm Smith, Marquise Goodwin, Robbie Gould, and Logan Paulsen.
They settled into a steady group of additions, and as the offseason moved into May and June, they added players who have proven to be valuable commodities. Brandon Fusco has been the team’s starting right guard, and the best of the three interior linemen. Elvis Dumervil has proven to be one of the more effective pass rushers on the roster. The team has not stopped since the start of the season, thanks to a host of injuries. Defensive end Leger Douzable has been the standout among the in-season additions.
I thought I would take a look at the status of all the free agent additions, and also a look at the five best and worst free agent signings this year. These are not ranked first through fifth best (and worst), but rather just the five best overall.
1. WR Pierre Garçon (5-year, $47.5 million, $17 million fully guaranteed) - The 49ers shelled out for him, but he proved to be the team’s best wide receiver by a longshot before suffering a neck fracture. He made a critical catch virtually every game. His neck should be fine for next year, and will be critical in the hopeful development of Jimmy Garoppolo.
2. DE Leger Douzable (1-year, $900,000) - It’s not a long-term addition, but Douzable has been an incredibly pleasant surprise since re-joining the team. The 49ers signed him in August and then released him during roster cuts. They brought him back when Arik Armstead went on injured reserve, and he has been a stout run defender.
3. WR Marquise Goodwin (2-year, $6 million, $4.45 million fully guaranteed) - The drops have been frustrating, but Goodwin has big-time playmaker potential. He leads all qualified NFL receivers in yards per catch (21.7), has already surpassed his career high in receiving yards, and is six receptions away from a career high in that category. Considering he signed a two-year, $6 million deal, that’s pretty strong work. I could see him getting a contract extension sooner rather than later.
4. CB K’Waun Williams (1-year, $765,000) - He did well enough on a one-year prove-it deal to earn a three-year contract extension before the season ended. He will be the favorite to claim the nickel back job again next year.
5. Edge Elvis Dumervil (2-year, $8 million, $1.5 million guaranteed) - The 49ers signed him late in the offseason workout program, and he has emerged as one of their better pass rushers. If they can add another strong pass rusher next offseason, he would be a great depth option.
1. LB Malcolm Smith (5-year, $26.5 million, $12 million guaranteed) - You sign this kind of deal and end up on injured reserve, it’s not going to reflect particularly well. The selection of Reuben Foster raised questions about Smith’s future with the team, but the subsequent release of NaVorro Bowman means there is a very clear opportunity for Smith next year. Smith’s signing could easily come off this list next year.
2. FB Kyle Juszczyk (4-year, $21 million, $7 million fully guaranteed) - The man John Lynch described as an offensive weapon has been quite valuable as a blocker, but less so as a pass catcher. He is on here more for the size of his contract than anything else.
3. OT Garry Gilliam (1-year, $2.2 million, $1.25 million fully guaranteed) - The 49ers needed Gilliam when Trent Brown had a concussion. Gilliam was not good. Seahawks were happy to see Gilliam leave, and that’s saying something given their offensive line woes.
4. Brian Hoyer (2-year, $18.5 million, $9.85 million fully guaranteed) - The decision to sign Hoyer made some sense given his past with Kyle Shanahan. However, aside from buying a little time for rookie C.J. Beathard to get more comfortable, and for the 49ers to eventually land Jimmy Garoppolo, this one did not pan out. The 49ers did not have a ton of options, particularly once they made it clear Colin Kaepernick was not part of their plan. And it did feel like a bit of a punting of the QB decision to 2018. They had the cap space to burn, so it’s not the worst decision in the world, but it did not really work out.
5. TE Logan Paulsen (1-year, $1 million) - I couldn’t really come up with another option. I was deciding between Paulsen and Tim Hightower, and went with Paulsen because of the greater dead money hit ($1 million vs. $332,000). Expectations were low, so it’s hard to get too upset with this.
Here is the full list of free agent signings and their current status. The date in parenthesis is when they were signed.
FB Kyle Juszczyk (3/9)
WR Marquise Goodwin (3/9)
WR Aldrick Robinson (3/10)
OG Brandon Fusco (5/2)
DT Earl Mitchell (2/24)
DE Leger Douzable (8/14, 10/17)
LB Brock Coyle (3/10)
CB K’Waun Williams (2/21) - since signed contract extension
K Robbie Gould (3/9)
WR Louis Murphy (7/31, 11/6)
TE Logan Paulsen (3/9)
DE Elvis Dumervil (6/8)
DL Datone Jones (10/24)
LB Dekoda Watson (3/18)
LB Mark Nzeocha (9/25)
CB Leon Hall (10/10, 10/24)
DB Antone Exum, Jr. (11/7)
WR DeAndre Carter (2/24)
WR Pierre Garçon (3/9)
OT Garry Gilliam (4/18)
LB Malcolm Smith (3/9)
CB Asa Jackson (8/8, 9/16)
DB Don Jones (3/10)
QB Brian Hoyer (3/9)
QB Matt Barkley (3/10)
RB Tim Hightower (4/1)
C Tim Barnes (5/2)
OL Andrew Gardner (8/14)
DT Tony McDaniel (10/17)
DL Sen’Derrick Marks (8/23)
LB Jayson DiManche (4/7, 8/5)
LB Sean Porter (8/9)
CB Will Davis (6/1)