The NFL season is winding down which means some players have contracts ending. Some players will get franchised or extended but others will be hitting the open market. We’ll take a look at each position and see if any hopeful players would be a good fit for the San Francisco 49ers.
Honestly, I’m starting this with the running backs because of all the positions the 49ers have needs at, the backfield is the absolute last place next to quarterbacks (yeah, guess what comes next). The 49ers had running backs aplenty, all playing at a high level (even undrafted ones) and some are on UDFA contracts which keep them cheap for salary cap purposes. Jerick McKinnon will lead the backfield in 2019, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a 50/50 split with Matt Breida given how great the latter looked this year. Then you have Jeff Wilson Jr. and Raheem Mostert spelling them.
I’m looping fullbacks in with running backs and the names hitting free agency this year are both big and small. Le’Veon Bell is the big name, he sat out 2018 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. New Orleans Saints back Mark Ingram is another big name. Frank Gore is also on this list as his contract with the Miami Dolphins is up.
If there’s any sort of running back the 49ers want to look at, it’s going to be something more on the traditional side. They’ve got plenty of speed with McKinnon and Breida, but with Alfred Morris set to depart, they could use a player in the same vein if they choose to not bring Morris back. Morris was a healthy scratch for several games in 2018, so how much they would use such a ball carrier would be anyone’s guess, but it’s definitely something nice to have.
Bell is an obvious player that won’t be coming to the 49ers. He’s a three-down back that will cost more money than the 49ers should pay. Mark Ingram is the traditional back I outlined above, but I don’t think he’d get the use that his paycheck would command. Plus, I think the Ingram/Alvin Kamara duo in New Orleans is something they won’t want to break up regardless of if they win the Super Bowl this year.
An intriguing name is Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray. We can laugh about the possibility of him following McKinnon to San Francisco (and vulturing carries from him upon arriving) but he fits that mold of running back the 49ers could use in a pinch. The problem that Murray has is that he’d be on a very competitive depth chart. Murray played second fiddle to Dalvin Cook in 2018, and wrenched carries from McKinnon as 2017 wore on (when both were in Minnesota) so he may not want to deal with all this competition.
Murray would be a bit costly, but there is quite a selection otherwise if the 49ers were to go the route outlined above. A lot of these players come cheaper than the ones already mentioned.
Here’s your free agent running backs in the league per Over the Cap. Things could change with franchise tags and deals, but all of the below have contracts expiring. Would you be interested in any of these running backs coming to Santa Clara?
Running backs hitting 2019 free agency