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49ers free agency recap: The good, the bad, and the ugly of day 1

Seven signings to go over. There’s pros and cons to all of of them, let’s break it down.

There was temptation to start this post with a time stamp before I went to my day job that isn’t Niners Nation, just to once again reiterate my thoughts like I said on Sunday regarding free agency. I then just said, “to hell with it” and had no expectations for what could happen.

On a busy day for yours truly, following the signings was impossible. I thought I saw one signing but failed to catch the other two. John Lynch wasn’t kidding—the San Francisco 49ers were being active in free agency.


The only issue I had was the team spending everything it had like a 10-year-old getting his first hundred dollar bill. Thankfully, it didn’t happen. The 49ers did spend money, but it wasn’t a cap casualty-inducing amount like initially feared. It’d be inaccurate to call it conservative, but the results are satisfying. Let’s break all this down in the only way I can.

Fooch’s note: I’ve added in the Matt Barkley signing at the bottom

QB Bryan Hoyer

The Good: The 49ers have a quarterback on the roster.
The Bad: The 49ers have Bryan Hoyer on the roster.
And The Ugly: He beat Colin Kaepernick to an NFL roster.

This move was pretty obvious. Given Bryan Hoyer’s connection with Kyle Shanahan, he’ll be perfect to help get the offense installed with the rest of the players on that side of the ball and according to John Lynch, he’s well aware the 49ers are looking at other options. Given Hoyer’s contract, he’s being depended on to take the reigns of the team until they find a decent replacement—and that’s cool. The 49ers will have a decent backup afterwards once they get their quarterback situation figured out. And no, Hoyer is not a long-term solution. Cousins coming here next year isn’t such a strange idea at this point.

Interestingly: it’s day one and Colin Kaepernick hasn’t had any sort of meetings with anybody that we’ve heard about. Given that he’s opted out only a few days ago, the lack of communication is understandable, but does anyone else find that interesting?

Grade: B

FB Kyle Juszczyk

The Good: Fullbacks are back, baby!
The Bad: Maybe too much money for a fullback?
And The Ugly: Watch him take 40 yards off the Patriots.

The 49ers needed a fullback and Patrick DiMarco was a good guess to come to the 49ers. That didn’t exactly happen. Instead, the team got Kyle Juszczyk (pronounced: YOUs-check) who may have been the best fullback in free agency.

He didn’t come cheap. With a contract worth around $21 million (as of this writing—things haven’t been sorted out yet), Juszczyk is going to be the highest paid fullback in the league. By a large margin.

It’s worth it though, as he will become the Swiss Army Knife role that Kyle Shanahan has been interested in as of late. This won’t be a Boobie Dixon type of fullback. This guy can catch, block, and run. And it will be awesome.

And if you think that name is hard to pronounce, just think of the headaches Fooch, me, and the rest of the NN staff will have typing out the spelling so it’s correct. Ugh.

Grade: B+

WR Pierre Garcon

The Good: The 49ers get a shot in the arm for the wide receiver corps.
The Bad: $23 million for a receiver crossing 30 years of age?
And The Ugly: The 49ers wide receivers were so bad, this is a steal

Thank God the 49ers didn’t sigm Alshon Jeffery. Garcon may have been expensive, but he’s the perfect piece to help get the offense installed with the pass catchers. A high pick at wide receiver in the draft isn’t out of the question, and it will be perfect for whoever is taken to develop under Garcon.

If the 49ers decide to turn a young quarterback loose, Garcon is perfect to help build that quarterback’s confidence. In this offense you need a possession receiver and if a rookie QB (or second year for that matter) needs someone to lean on, Garcon is a lot better than worse.

While the contract is five years, it looks like this is effectively a 3-year deal. Given his age, this may mean Garcon retires a 49er. Between the 1-year contract leading to an exponentially huge amount (Jeffery) or Garcon, I’ll take Garcon as a wide receiver.

Grade: A

WR Marquise Goodwin

The Good: The 49ers got an Olympic speedster for half the amount of Torrey Smith.
The Bad: The 49ers released Torrey Smith.
And The Ugly: He can do this.

Call me crazy, but this guy is an upgrade over Torrey Smith. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re looking at body of work and raw talent, Smith wins out, but Goodwin is a freak as far as speed is concerned. Not only that, Smith wasn’t exactly lighting anything on fire his two years in San Francisco. Goodwin is a cheaper and dare I say it, better long term option than Smith was. Time will tell, let’s see what happens when Kyle Shanahan gets his hands on him.

Grade: B

TE Logan Paulsen

The Good: The 49ers have a tight end who can block.
The Bad: Tight end Vance McDonald can block.
And The Ugly: Paulsen isn’t known for catching passes.

Well, this is out of nowhere. It’s a good blocking tight end, so decent signing, but the 49ers have a blocking tight end in Vance McDonald. A tight end that former general manager Trent Baalke was so kind to extend before getting fired.

And that’s the problem: Paulsen isn’t really a pass-catching tight end. While he doesn’t have the ‘stone hands’ label that McDonald was lucky to obtain, he’s not known for being a beast carving defenses.

On that note, he’s got a few years experience in the Shanahan family offense, so he may be better than I’m giving him credit for. Plus the 49ers tight ends aren’t exactly good.

Grade: C-

ILB Malcolm Smith

The Good: Finally! A somewhat decent, though underwhelming compliment to Navarro Bowman
The Bad: Only a couple years where Smith has been good.
And The Ugly: This is the guy who stole the 49ers Super Bowl dreams and made Seattle petition to have a statue of Sherman tipping Kaepernick’s pass. ‘Doh!

Good signing. The 49ers will need to snag an inside linebacker to develop either alongside Smith or Bowman who is starting to have injuries pile up on him. Either way, Smith knows what defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is trying to accomplish with this 4-3 transition. What he lacks in ability he can make up in veteran leadership in this defensive transition.

That said, the 49ers will need to look to an inside linebacker in this draft to develop because while Smith has a nice deal, it’s doubtful he stays the full 5 years. Depending on the season, he’s either been hot or cold. Here’s hoping Saleh can light a fire under him and get him back to Super Bowl MVP form.

Grade: B

K Robbie Gould

The Good: A shiny new kicker
The Bad: No more Phil Dawson
And The Ugly: Dawson went to Arizona.

OK, first the good in all of this: Phil Dawson was not worth the contract he had when the 49ers are clearly in a development/tanking year. It makes sense why they’d choose not to bring him back.

But Arizona? That’s kind of a kick in the crotch. Dawson is worth the price-tag he commends. The guy just doesn’t miss field goals. It’s understandable in the 49ers thinking—they aren’t exactly going to win this year, but to lose Dawson? I’d rather eat the cap space to just keep him.

Back to Gould, this is the same guy that botched a kick to get the 49ers another useless win during the Jim Tomsula era. That’s right—this guy lost to Jim Tomsula. And now he’s in San Francisco. As strange as this signing is, at least he’s not David Akers...

Then again, there’s plenty of options for kickers in the future. Hopefully John Lynch drafts one to stash and develop...or something.

Grade: C

WR Aldrick Robinson

The Good: Wide receiver help!
The Bad: Who is this guy?
And The Ugly: Who the hell is this guy?

Fooch’s write-up of Robinson can pretty much sum up this signing. While it’s not exactly ground-shaking, it’s another person to help get Shanahan’s offense implemented. So that’s good, I guess. Given that the signing happened late Thursday night, there’s not much to really go on as far as salary cap implications.

Look, the 49ers needed wide receiver help, and Robinson certainly helps. How much is yet to be determined.

Grade: C-

QB Matt Barkley

The Good: He has a pulse, and looked adequate in relief in Chicago
The Bad: He completed under 60 percent of his passes (59.7) and threw 14 interceptions to his eight touchdowns
And The Ugly: The 49ers have Hoyer and Barkley, and that’s it for now

Without knowing dollar figures, we can’t really call this good or bad from a financial standpoint. Odds are good though that he is simply veteran competition for training camp who could end up as Hoyer’s backup if the team adds a rookie or two.

Barkley got his first extended playing time last season, and while he did not look horrible, he certainly was not great. He’s a body for the depth chart, and I don’t think anybody has particularly high expectations.

Grade: C