The NFL is less than two weeks away from the start of free agency! The NFL Combine will keep us occupied in the meantime, but there is plenty to figure out in the meantime. The 49ers have a lot of holes to fill, and with 11 draft picks and a ton of cap space, they have a lot of options at their disposal.
Over the next two weeks, we are going to take a look at each major position group on the 49ers roster. We’ll take a look at the 49ers current situation, impending free agents, and look at the top five or ten players set to hit the market. Today, we start with the quarterback position.
Base: $14.5 million
Prorated bonus: $2,465,753
Roster bonus: $2 million
Workout bonus: $400,000
Cap hit: $19,365,753
Free agents: Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Thaddeus Lewis
It was not a pretty year for the quarterbacks. The team entered the offseason with questions about Colin Kaepernick, and whether or not he would be back. They reportedly came close to dealing him to the Denver Broncos, but it never came to fruition.
Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert competed for the starting job, but Kaepernick’s surgeries prevented him from getting on track until into training camp. The team brought in Thad Lewis as a free agent, but he tore his ACL in the preseason. They subsequently signed Christian Ponder, who was painting his house and considering retirement.
Gabbert claimed the starting role in camp, but lost it after Week 5. Kaepernick restructured his contract at that point, removing future guarantees and turning it into a two year deal with a chance to opt out after the 2016 season. Kaepernick started the final 11 games, looking significantly better than he did in 2015. However, with a change in the coach and general manager, a fresh start might be what both sides decide is best.
The remaining positions will feature quite a few more players, but the QB position is simple. Kaepernick is the only one under contract, and he can opt out if he wants. If he chooses to opt out, he must exercise the clause between March 2nd and March 7th. If that happens, he hits free agency when the new league year starts, while the 49ers will not get a comp pick in return.
2017 NFL free agency
Potential trade candidates: Jimmy Garoppolo, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo
Potential cut candidates: Jay Cutler, Tony Romo
The quarterback position has been on the front-burner for much of the past two years. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are working together to rebuild the 49ers, but the next quarterback will be Shanahan’s call. Sure, Lynch has final say on the 90-man roster, but Kyle Shanahan was hired to find a quarterback, among other things.
He is in the midst of reviewing film on Kaepernick and the other quarterbacks. The trade market could prove more interesting than the free agency market considering the names that could be traded. Kirk Cousins is the best option in free agency, but there is a good chance he gets the franchise tag soon.
The 49ers have been connected to Atlanta Falcons backup Matt Schaub, and Brian Hoyer also has experience with Shanahan from their time in Cleveland. If Shanahan and/or Kaepernick decide that is not going to work out, Schaub or Hoyer makes sense as a potential short-term option.
The 2017 NFL Draft is where things could get really interesting, with the 49ers holding the No. 2 pick. But free agency and the trade market could tell us plenty. If the 49ers work a deal for Cousins or Garoppolo, they will not be using the No. 2 pick, or probably even a second or third on a quarterback. If they sign someone like Hoyer, Schaub, or Glennon, among others, it does not guarantee a high pick is used on a quarterback, but it shows the team could choose to be patient and wait for 2018 to find more of an answer at quarterback.