With less than a month to go until the NFL’s new league year, teams are gearing up for the start of free agency. The San Francisco 49ers have 33 players up for free agency, per Spotrac, and will have some difficult decisions due to their limited cap space.
Re-signing left tackle Trent Williams is the top priority for general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. But the Niners have several other players who will require their attention this offseason.
ESPN NFL Insiders continued their offseason preview and came up with their choices for which players will be sneaky-good free agent signings. A pair of 49ers made the list.
Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: DE Kerry Hyder. Hyder has traits as an edge rusher off twists and stunts with the ability to win isolated one-on-one matchups. The 49ers defensive end logged 8.5 sacks last season. I would look to add Hyder — who will turn 30 years old this offseason — on a three-year deal, with the option to release him or add more years going into the final year of the contract.
After recording just one sack with the Dallas Cowboys in 2019, Hyder signed a one-year deal with San Francisco last offseason. With Nick Bosa and Dee Ford missing basically the whole season, Hyder led the Niners with 8.5 sacks. He also recorded 49 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 18 QB hits.
Hyder is in line for a raise on the $1.25 million base salary he made last season. With the 49ers having limited funds available, the defensive lineman could find a new home for the 2021 campaign.
Another player mentioned by ESPN is cornerback K’Waun Williams.
Field Yates, NFL analyst: Fans of the 49ers will tell you all about Williams, who had yet another rock-solid season for San Francisco manning the slot in 2020, though he missed eight games with a knee injury. Thinking out loud, the Jets sure seem like a team that could use some reinforcements at the cornerback position — and they just so happened to have hired former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as their new head coach.
Williams has missed 13 games since joining San Francisco for the 2017 season. The 29-year-old had a $3.1 million cap hit in 2020, per Over the Cap.
The slot-corner has been a reliable part of the secondary for the team during his four years. Williams has 172 tackles, 14 tackles for losses, three interceptions, and 4.0 sacks since 2017. Opposing quarterbacks have an average 79.0 rating when targeting him over the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus named Williams and Richard Sherman as the highest-rated CB duo in the NFL during the 2019 season.
Williams, Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, and Emmanuel Moseley are all up for new deals this offseason. It looks like Sherman’s days with the team are numbered, so Lynch and Shanahan will shift their attention to re-signing the remaining trio.
Who would you rather have back out of Hyder and Williams? What do you think is a fair deal for the 49ers to re-sign Williams?