The San Francisco 49ers invested quite a bit of money in free agency this offseason. When you’ve got as much cap room as they had, there is going to be plenty of money available. And with the minimum cash spending rule in the CBA, the 49ers were going to have to spend cash at some point.
The 49ers had some surprising contracts in size, inking Pierre Garçon and Malcolm Smith to five-year deals. In reality, they can get out of the deals earlier with voided years, but they money was not insignificant for either player. Kyle Juszczyk got a four-year deal, but making him the highest paid fullback in football by a long shot means there is nothing insignificant about that.
Beyond those three however, the 49ers did not give out too much to individual players. The most notable would be Brian Hoyer. The free agent quarterback signed a two-year deal worth $12 million, with incentives that could push it up to $18.5 million. $9.85 million of the deal is full guaranteed at signing, including a $4 million signing bonus, his $2.95 million base salary in 2017, and $2.9 million of his 2018 base salary. The incentives to get up to the $18.5 million are 2,500 passing yards and 20 touchdowns each season, according to Jason La Canfora.
Recently, friend of the site Danny Kelly took a look at the most underpaid veteran player on each NFL team. For the 49ers, he went with Hoyer. He had this to say about the deal:
There’s slim pickins when it comes to underpaid veteran standouts on this roster. Still, the player with the best opportunity to quickly outplay his contract is Hoyer, who reunites with head coach Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. Hoyer played well in Shanahan’s offense when the two were together in Cleveland in 2014 … for a while, anyway. Over the team’s first five games, Hoyer completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,224 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception on 8.21 yards per attempt and a 99.5 passer rating as the Browns surged to a 3–2 start. That’s when things fell apart. Hoyer’s performance dipped, he finished the season with more picks (13) than touchdowns (12), a 76.5 passer rating, and a 7–6 record as the starter before being benched in favor of Johnny Manziel. Hoyer’s tenures in Houston and Chicago were similarly styled roller coaster rides that featured intriguing highs punctuated by alarming lows. But a new season brings a relatively blank slate, and Shanahan and Hoyer will be hoping some of the magic they found early in 2014 shows up again in San Francisco.
A quarterback making anything less than the crazy-sized contracts we see from top line starters is always going to have a significant opportunity to out-perform his contract. Hoyer is not coming cheap, but in the quarterback market, he could prove to be a relative bargain. Of course, this requires him staying healthy and productive. He’s been productive in the past, but health has regularly been an issue. He’s got experience in Kyle Shanahan’s system, so there is at least some reason for optimism.
As Kelly said, there are not a lot of particularly notable veterans on the roster to cite as underpaid. It’s not that many are drastically overpaid, but with a lot of potential starters under their rookie contracts, the list is slim. If I had to pick another interesting one, it might be wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. He signed a two-year, $6 million contract this offseason. It’s not dirt cheap, but it’s on the lower end, with no guarantees after year one. He’s going to get a serious shot in Shanahan’s offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, Tank Carradine has a cap hit of $1,978,125 this year, in the one year of his contract extension. He could very well get surpassed by Solomon Thomas and a few others, but if he makes the roster, a more natural role for him this year could benefit him. At the same time, he could very well get cut, so there are some extremes here.
Another option might be pass rusher Elvis Dumervil. He signed a two-year deal worth up to $8 million. He is coming off injuries that limited him the past couple years, but if he is fully back, he could still have something left in the tank. He could end up as a regular in the nickel, with a chance to pile up some impressive sack totals.
Who else could be on this list?