Earlier in the week, we went over free agents the San Francisco 49ers might be interested in from the NFC East. Washington’s guard Brandon Scherff was the most intriguing option. Some feel you shouldn’t spend big money on a guard, but that’s a position that is the toughest to play on the offensive line, and the defensive linemen that are in the league are getting more and more “alien-ish.” Spend the money on a guy that is seasoned.
Today we’ll take a look at four more free-agent options, this time taking a look at the NFC South. Let’s start with the 49ers Week 1 opponent, Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers- WR Breshad Perriman
One of the strangest developments the last half of the season was Perriman turning into a legitimate threat. Tampa Bay was without Mike Evans down the stretch, and Chris Godwin for a few games and Perriman took off. Perrriman’s last five games, he had 87, 70, 113, 102, and 134 yards receiving. Those numbers are a bit inflated as the Bucs chuck it all over the place, but the 49ers need a vertical threat to open things up underneath. Instead of throwing money at big names like Amari Cooper or Robbie Anderson, get a player that just proved he can get the job done and is only 26-years-old.
Perriman had 11 receptions over 20 yards this season, which would have easily led San Francisco. This is under the assumption that Emmanuel Sanders signs somewhere else, and the 49ers have to replace him. Perriman was a former first-round pick that struggled to stay healthy and catch the ball. Neither of those was issues in 2019. Perriman had one drop on 65 targets. This is one of those low-risk, high-reward signings.
Saints- S D.J. Swearinger
From 2016-2018, Swearinger was one of the best safeties in the NFL. He never was credited because he doesn’t put up the gaudy numbers or have the highlight plays, but he made the plays you don’t see where the quarterback can’t throw the ball, so you don’t get a statistic for that. Swearinger remains one of the most aware safeties in the game, which makes him a perfect fit for the 49ers complex coverage scheme we saw in 2019.
I want Jimmie Ward to re-sign more than anyone. Let’s say he doesn’t. Swearinger is a great option to replace Ward at a reasonable price. You can likely sign Swearinger to a minimum contract and let him and Tarvarius Moore duke it out at safety. Even if Ward re-signs, Swearinger will become insurance for either Ward or Jaquiski Tartt. Arizona played him at strong safety, and that’s not his game. Some have said he was a bad fit for Vance Joseph’s defense. The Raiders did the same. The one game he played with the Saints at free safety was the second-highest grade Swearinger had from PFF all season.
Panthers- DT Gerald McCoy
McCoy is 32-years-old and made $8 million in 2019. As he continues to age, will he be willing to play in a reduced role to win? Or will he cash out while he still can? I’d kick the tires on the veteran, who was still productive last season. On obvious passing downs, McCoy could come in and give the 49ers a deadly pass rush, similar to this season. They also wouldn’t have to play DeForest Buckner upwards to 80% of the snaps, which will only make him a better player. McCoy is 32-years-old and made $8 million in 2019. As he continues to age, will he be willing to play in a reduced role to win? Or will he cash out while he still can? I’d kick the tires on the veteran, who was still productive last season.
McCoy is probably going to get offered a lot of money from someone else, more money than the 49ers would be willing to pay, but that shouldn’t stop John Lynch from picking up the phone. I hope this offseason the 49ers continue to build on their strength that is the defensive line.
Falcons- Edge Vic Beasley
Kyle Shanahan has entered the chat
It’s not often, but there are times when sacks lie. Vic Beasley finished the season with nine sacks, but only three quarterback hits. He has always been the type of pass rusher where sacks come in bunches. Beasley came out of Clemson in 2015 and was supposed to be the next great speed rusher off the edge. The Falcons selected him eighth overall, but it never clicked. Sometimes, a change of scenery is all a player needs. If the 49ers move on from Arik Armstead (don’t do it) or trade Dee Ford, Beasley could be the speed rusher that opens things up for the rest of the line.
Beasley is valued at $7.3 million a year, so he’d save a bunch of money compared to what Ford and Armstead make. There’s a reason, as Beasley is probably two or three tiers worse than those two, but I’d imagine playing alongside Nick Bosa and Buckner will open things up for any edge rusher. This isn’t a strong division for free agents, but these are all great “what if” scenarios the 49ers should look into.