The San Francisco 49ers are more than halfway through the season, but with the team going through its bye this week, now is as good a time as any for some midseason assessments. The team is not making the playoffs this season, so today I thought would be a good time for a quick look at the team’s free agents next March.
There is a good chance the team will release one or more players after the season ends, and they could lock up one or more of the following list of players to a contract extension. For the time being, subject to the many roster moves still to come the next month and a half, here are the 49ers current players who are scheduled to be free agents next spring.
QB Tom Savage
RB Alfred Morris
RB Raheem Mostert (RFA)
OG Mike Person
LB Mark Nzeocha
LB Elijah Lee
CB Greg Mabin (ERFA)
DB Jimmie Ward
S Antone Exum
K Robbie Gould
P Bradley Pinion
LS Kyle Nelson
RFA stands for restricted free agent and ERFA stands for exclusive rights free agent. The 49ers will tender Mostert, and can do so with a first round tender, second round tender, or original round tender. The one-year salary that comes with each tender increases from original round to second round to first round. The first and second round tenders mean if the player signs elsewhere, that team has to give up a first or second round pick. An original round tender for a UDFA like Mostert means the 49ers get the right of first refusal on any offer sheet he signs.
For Mabin, if the 49ers want to retain him, they will tender him a one-year league minimum contract and he has to sign that or not play football. It’s fairly simple.
Mike Person and Jimmie Ward are the two starters of note due to hit free agency. Person is the team’s starting right guard on a one year deal. The offensive line has grown into a solid unit, offering solid run-blocking most of the season, and showing improvement in pass blocking the past couple weeks.
Meanwhile, Ward opened the season as an outside cornerback and has returned to free safety since Adrian Colbert went to injured reserve. He is playing out his fifth year option, and while he is plenty versatile, I have a feeling he will want to walk in free agency with a chance to find a place where he can compete for a single role. Maybe this works out better, but I would be surprised if he is on the 49ers roster in 2019.
The other big questions are the specialists. All three of their primary guys are free agents, but there does not seem to be a huge rush to get something done. If they end up retaining all three, I could very well see it almost being a package deal where they all get done together when the offseason arrives.
One name not listed that is worth watching is defensive lineman Arik Armstead. The 49ers exercised his fifth year option this past spring, and it becomes fully guaranteed at the start of the 2019 league year. He has been a beast against the run, but inconsistent as a pass rusher. He is due $9,046,000 in 2019, after which he would become a free agent. The 49ers could decide to release him before the new league year, but I honestly don’t know what they think of him as an option for 2019.