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Ranking the 49ers one-year contracts

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One-year contracts are a mix of prove-it deals, and just “that guy” deals. We ranked the 49ers nine one-year contracts.

The San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of a rebuilding process that includes a mix of short- and long-term answers. They seem to be a bit more focused on the youth movement on the defensive side of the ball, while the offensive side is focused a bit more on veterans implementing Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

The team signed players to a mix of deals, and nine of them signed one-year contracts. A one-year contract can be a basic filler type of player, but it can also be a flier to potentially land a diamond in the rough. A player will sign a one-year deal when coming off an injury, when coming off some other off-field issue, coming off a down season in his walk year, or just entering a free agency market that is softer than he might like. It often can include a mix of such reasons.

ESPN’s Field Yates recently ranked out the ten best one-year contracts of this past offseason. It does not include franchise tag players, or players who signed a restricted free agent tender. The list was topped with offensive players, including Terrelle Pryor, Alshon Jeffery, and Eddie Lacy.

The 49ers had nobody on the list, which is not at all surprising. They have some interesting talent on these deals, but few are expected to be major impact players, or guys who could potentially end up signing huge long-term deals. However, there are some potential starters in this group that could prove great values.

I thought I’d rank them out in terms of potential biggest impact this season. I’ve included their total contract value, although additional incentive clauses are unknown for most of them. There are some players with options on future years (Elvis Dumervil being the most prominent). I have not included those players since technically their deals could last longer than one year.

1. CB K’Waun Williams - $690,000

Likely the front-runner for the team’s nickel back role. If he wins the role, the increasing use of nickel and dime packages would effectively make him a starter. He sat out last season with an ankle injury, but was previously a solid nickel corner.

2. OG Brandon Fusco - $1,400,000

Competing with Zane Beadles and Joshua Garnett for one of the two starting guard spots. If he claims a starting role, he will join an offensive line that is critical to offensive success.

3. OT Garry Gilliam - $2,162,500

Competing with Trent Brown for the right tackle role, with the loser of the competition likely a leading candidate for the swing tackle role. Like Fusco, if he claims a starting job, he will be important to the offense’s development. Of course, if he does not claim the starting role, he slides down this list.

4. RB Tim Hightower - $1,107,000

He will not claim the starting running back role, but as a complementary option, he is a significant upgrade over the 49ers recent crew of backups. His value goes up if Hyde gets hurt, but even then, Joe Williams and Matt Breida are intriguing names to watch.

5. LB Brock Coyle - $1,450,000

He knows the Seahawks style of defense the 49ers are looking at, but is primarily a special teams player. He did fill in when Bobby Wagner was injured, but is likely going to get most of his looks as a core special teamer. His value aside from special teams could come in helping the defensive coaching staff implement the defense.

6. DT Chris Jones - $825,000

He is getting a lot of praise for being a hard worker in camp, but the defensive line might be the deepest position on the roster. The base starting rotation could include some combination of DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Earl Mitchell, and Arik Armstead, with Jones, Aaron Lynch, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, and Ronald Blair all competing for some kind of role. When the team goes into the nickel, there are even fewer opportunities with Ahmad Brooks and Eli Harold moving down to defensive end roles. The 49ers will implement plenty of rotation, but it will still be difficult for Jones to carve out a significant role.

7. TE Logan Paulsen - $1,000,000

His best catching years came in Washington when Kyle Shanahan was OC. Paulsen seems like primarily a blocking tight end, but he could get some work in the offense. He is not competing for a starting role, but could be a useful role player.

8. CB Will Davis - $775,000

One of the more recent signings, Davis’ spot on the depth chart is not entirely clear. Ahkello Witherspoon, Keith Reaser, and Dontae Johnson are competing for the starting job opposite Rashard Robinson. K’Waun Williams and Will Redmond have been the primary competitors for the nickel role. Davis will need a big camp to move into a significant role, otherwise he will either be cut or focus primarily on special teams.

9. C Tim Barnes - $795,000

He has two people in front of him on the center depth chart, in the form of Jeremy Zuttah and Daniel Kilgore. He is competing for a backup role that will not see the field except due to injuries or blowouts.