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We could be looking at a very different 49ers team in 2020

The 49ers have some critical decisions to make in free agency

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Change is normal and often necessary in the NFL. If the 4-12 San Francisco 49ers didn’t make any changes to their 2018 roster, there’s no way the team plays in Super Bowl LIV. Instead, the Niners upgraded their team speed, added some much-needed depth, and a three-run home run in the draft. You never want to be complacent as a team, and even after a Super Bowl appearance, the 49ers will continue to improve their roster. There will be some difficult decisions for the front office to make. The 49ers are currently 26th in salary cap space, per OverTheCap.

Pending free agents

Here is a list of players on the Niners that will be free agents in 2020:

Emmanuel Sanders

Jimmie Ward

Arik Armstead

Emmanuel Moseley

Kendrick Bourne

Nick Mullens

Daniel Brunskill

Matt Breida

Jeff Wilson

Ross Dwelley

Ben Garland

Ronald Blair

Sheldon Day

Some players, like Breida, Bourne, and Moseley, are restricted free agents, so they’re not going anywhere unless another team is willing to give up compensation. Brunskill is another RFA, so keeping him and Garland around will be great for the offensive line depth.

I’d imagine the 49ers will keep two of the first three players listed. You have to keep Armstead around. He means so much to the defense, and Armstead just turned 26-years old in November. He has been trending in the right direction in the past few seasons. Armstead will likely cost a pretty penny, but he’s worth it.

It comes down to paying the soon to be 33-year old Emmanuel Sanders or betting on Jimmie Ward staying healthy. To me, I’m rolling with Ward again. You can protect yourself from injury, and knowing that Tarvarius Moore is a competent backup in the event, Ward does go down. Ward will turn 29 in July. As for Sanders, I trust Shanahan can replace his production, knowing that Emmanuel has already left the impression needed on Deebo Samuel, Bourne, and Dante Pettis. I’d bet on Pettis bouncing back in Year 3, and the offense resembling more like the New England Patriots of the early 2010s when they had two stud tight ends. That’s where Jalen Hurd comes into play.

Creating space

Yes, the 49ers are 26th in cap space right after the Super Bowl. By cutting Jerrick McKinnon, Marquise Goodwin, Mark Nzeocha, and Tevin Coleman, you save $14.6 million. There’s your Armstead money with some wiggle room. The team can get creative with restructures and other cuts as well.

John Lynch and the front office will remain aggressive this offseason as they continue to build a championship-caliber roster. We’re not sure what the 49ers will look like come September, but the roster will be different.