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ESPN analysts think 49ers got bargains in free agency

Remember when everyone was mad? About that...

Free agency is winding down as far as the big, must-have signings are concerned, and the San Francisco 49ers were in the thick of things making all sorts of deals. They went and got Kwon Alexander and later grabbed Tevin Coleman, Jason Verrett, and traded for Dee Ford later signing him to a mega deal. It began with everyone wondering what the hell they were doing with all that money, but after the salary cap figures came out, Paraag Marathe—and John Lynch by extension, look like geniuses.

We love it when people talk good things about the 49ers, and it’s even better when the national media is dedicating a segment to free agency and who did it right. ESPN answered some questions about free agency and several of their analysts had good things to say about the 49ers. In fact, they were saying an awful lot of good things and nothing bad.

For starters, Mike Clay called the Jason Verrett deal the best bargain deal:

Jason Verrett to the 49ers for one year, $3.6 million. The Niners are headed the right direction, but getting the defense in order is an absolute must. The second perimeter corner opposite Richard Sherman has been a big problem area, so throwing a low-risk, high-reward dart at Verrett makes a ton of sense. The 2014 first-round pick enjoyed a breakout 2015 season in which he was one of the league’s best in coverage, but injuries have limited him to just five games the past three seasons.

There’s of course dissenters, and Jason Reid, along with Kevin Seifert think the better bargain was a 49ers deal, but for Tevin Coleman.

Seifert compares the Coleman deal to Jerick McKinnon:

Tevin Coleman to the 49ers for two years, up to $10 million. Teams are well-advised to avoid spending on veteran running backs, but in reality, the deal is quite friendly to the 49ers. They will pay Coleman $3.6 million in 2019, and his 2020 salary would not be guaranteed until next year. Compare that to the $12 million the 49ers paid free-agent tailback Jerick McKinnon in 2018. Plus, Coleman has relatively low mileage (528 rushes in four seasons) and is an excellent receiver.

And Reid compared it more to helping Kyle Shanahan’s offense:

Tevin Coleman to the 49ers for two years, up to $10 million. Coleman ’s 2019 salary is only $3.6 million. The rest of his package is great for the team as well, and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan knows how to use backs who catch the ball as well as Coleman.

It’s always good when people are saying nice things about the 49ers. I’ve been preaching that the 49ers have a good deal of salary cap space, but that could go to zero real quick if they aren’t careful. The moves they’ve made make sense, carry some risk, but also don’t weigh terribly on their cap figures for the future. Jason Verrett is a great example of this: He has a high ceiling, and if things don’t go as anticipated in a year, the 49ers aren’t swimming in back-cash. If they do go well, the 49ers control his rights and get something long-term worked out.

If things don’t work out, it still may hurt, but it won’t force their hands at drastic changes to the roster just to keep things. Outside of the Coleman/Verrett signings. The multi-year signings were (wisely) front-loaded and made cheaper in later years.

That said, one has to wonder how long players will keep going for these deals before they want more job security and for those cap hits to filter through each year rather than be loaded of upfront.

In any case, it’s not just one person bringing up the 49ers, but several in a segment that can't’ stop talking about these smart additions and contracts. We’ll see how this translates to the field.