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Are the 49ers still a destination franchise?

With limited cap space, getting guys to take less to chase a ring will be critical

NFL: SEP 13 Cardinals at 49ers Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every team in the NFL received good news on Thursday when the NFL and the NFLPA agreed that the 2021 salary cap would be at least $180 million, which was five million more than the expected amount reported earlier this season. Clearly, any extra money will be good for teams that are up against the cap, but it’s still going to be difficult for a lot of squads to hand out big contracts this year. Good teams often convince players to take less money for the sake of a championship, but are the 49ers still considered a team worth sacrificing dollars for?

After the 2019 season, it was easy to see San Francisco as a team that was just a piece or two away from winning a championship. Two incredible coaches led them in Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh. They had a historically good defense and an offense that flat-out bullied people on the ground. It wouldn’t have been a hard sell to say to a veteran player, “If you take a little less money, you can put us over the top.”

After the 2020 season, however, things are looking a lot different. Robert Saleh has left to become the head coach of the Jets. Nick Bosa is coming off a significant knee injury. Multiple veteran defensive starters will likely be playing for other teams. Jimmy Garoppolo looked unhealthy and inept under center.

If John Lynch is pitching a veteran free agent now, can he make that same sales pitch? Do players around the league still consider the 49ers good enough to sacrifice some of their next contract?

Levin Black and I talked about this in today’s Niners Nation Gold Standard podcast. Click below to hear the whole conversation.

Certainly, there are still plenty of good things about the Niners. They still have stars at almost every level on both sides of the ball, and Kyle Shanahan just signed a new contract last year. There’s no doubt there’s a lot to like, but is there enough for free agents to love?

Furthermore, what kinds of help is Lynch getting from players on the 49ers reaching out to potential teammates? Earlier this offseason, we saw DeAndre Hopkins reach out to JJ Watt on Instagram. Are the best players on the 49ers reaching out to guys like Watt or even Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson and arguing on the team’s behalf?

In a year where most teams won’t have a ton of money to spend, recruiting players and convincing them to take less money could be the difference between playing into February and watching the playoffs at home like everyone else. What remains to be seen is whether the 49ers can convince anyone else that that is true.

Other topics in today’s episode

  • One crazy quarterback idea that actually hasn’t been discussed anywhere
  • Was Adam Peters trying to create a draft smokescreen?
  • Would you rather the Niners win a title surrounded by years of missing the playoffs, or would you rather make the playoffs every year but never win a title?