We’ve gone through three NFC divisions to find one potential free agent the San Francisco 49ers might be interested in. We’ll save the NFC West and the inevitable Seahawk the team signs for last. Let’s go to the AFC East.
Jets- WR Robby Anderson
It’ll be difficult to retain Emmanuel Sanders. Generally speaking, spending big money on a free agent wide receiver is asking for it. More often than not, they don’t pan out. Anderson is a 27-year-old receiver that is oozing with big-play ability. He’s the perfect deep threat that the 49ers are looking for. Nate is onto something here:
#Jets Robby Anderson is a long, springy WR with a very good catching range and some RAC ability. He is best on intermediate and vertical routes and routes where he can run truly run away from defenders.— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) February 19, 2020
He's a FA and I think his skillset actually pairs well with the #49ers. pic.twitter.com/R59uNNmmsX
Talent isn’t the reason to shy away from Anderson. You could make an argument that he’d be the best free-agent fit for San Francisco. It’s everything else about Anderson. Spotrac is projecting he gets $12 million a season, which is absurd. Anderson will probably get less than that, but he still screams, “buyer beware.” Free agency is tricky because you don’t want to pay for past production. In the same breath, you don’t want to do too much projecting. If you can get Anderson for around $8 million annually, that’s much more digestible.
Another reason for concern is that 2019 was the first season Anderson didn’t miss a game. Before this year, Anderson had been battling a nagging ankle injury that had prevented him from playing over 810 snaps. He played 926 in 2019. The young 49ers wideouts benefited from Emmanuel Sander’s leadership. Anderson’s not that guy. Two years ago, Robby was arrested on nine charges for going 105 mph in a 45 mph zone, running multiple red lights, and threatening to sexually assault the police officer’s wife, among other charges. In 2017, Anderson was also arrested on a felony charge of resisting arrest with violence and obstruction of police last year after an altercation at a concert in Miami. That’s not the type of player the 49ers gravitate toward.
Dolphins- Thanks but no thanks
Look at the free agents for Miami. There isn’t a player that you’d advocate for John Lynch to go after. There was a wide receiver at the trade deadline, but the 49ers would have needed to extend Devante Parker as well. I’d say the Sanders decision was worth the gamble.
Bills- Edge Shaq Lawson
Ideally, the answer is Frank Gore, and he signs a one-day deal to retire as a 49er. Gore wants to keep playing. While it’s believed the 49ers will franchise Arik Armstead, let’s explore all the options available. One of those may be Lawson, who is a few tiers below Armstead as a player, but you save at least $10 million a season. It took a while, but Lawson developed into a competent player this past season. Lawson had 40 total pressures, including seven sacks and 14 quarterback hits. He’s always been known as a run stopper, and Lawson proved that as well with 25 stops. I’m giving every defensive lineman a bump as they didn’t have the luxury to play alongside three stars. Lawson wouldn’t bee one of my top three choices, but he’s an option.
QB To DT Danny Shelton
New England has a few intriguing options. None Joe Thuney, who would shore up the 49ers offensive line. The problem is, Thuney plays left guard. It’s not as simple as saying, “go to the other side.” Free safety Devin McCourty has been one of the top free safeties for the past five-plus seasons. He’s 33-year-old and would be more of a stop-gap than anything.
That leaves defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who turned his career around as a Patriot. Shelton showed that he’s a high-end run defender that can flash as a pass rusher. He’s not the experienced veteran, but he’s an upgrade from Sheldon Day. Spotrac estimates Shelton’s worth at $4.7 million a season. Shelton, who is 27, would ensure the linebackers are clean to run free and make tackles. He’d give the 49ers some much-needed beef inside.