We’ve gone through the NFC West and the NFC North as far as potential free agents from each team that the San Francisco 49ers might have interest in. Today, we go to the NFC East, where Washington made the playoffs despite winning one more game than the Niners. Let’s start with the Philadelphia Eagles.
WR Desean Jackson - Eagles
This is more personal than anything. Jackson is one of my two favorite receivers of all-time, with Anquan Boldin being the other. There’s no question that Action Jackson has lost a step. There’s also no question that he remains a viable deep threat.
Jackson was released last week by the Eagles for salary cap and injury reasons. Jackson made $9.3 million in 2020 and only played in five games. At 35, he’s played eight games in two years. I’m not naive and understand that this is a guy you stay away from because of his recent injury history.
Still, in those eight games, Jackson has 23 receptions for 395 yards and three touchdowns. That’s over 17 yards per reception. Defenses still have to respect his speed, which opens up everything underneath. This signing would only happen on a veteran minimum deal.
CB Jourdan Lewis - Cowboys
The obvious answer here is Dak Prescott. The popular name is Aldon Smith. The most likely answer would be Lewis. He is a slot cornerback who could replace K’Waun Williams. The former third-round pick in ‘17 out of Michigan saved 30 points this past season, per Sports Info Solutions. That was tied with safeties Justin Simmons, Marcus Williams, and Jessie Bates, all players who are thought of as top-10 safeties.
Lewis is a competitive cornerback who is smaller in stature but can cover and has blitzing experience. Lewis allowed 6.2 yards per target this past season, broke up three passes, and had four tackles for loss. He’s a cheap option in free agency that San Francisco should consider.
DT Dalvin Tomlinson - Giants
I’m the biggest D.J. Jones fan in the world and believe that he’s a difference-maker when he’s on the field for the Niners. If San Francisco didn’t bring back D.J., Tomlinson would be a fine alternative.
Tomlinson hasn’t missed a game in four seasons. If you watched the Giants defense this past season, he was a big reason why they finished ninth in defensive rushing success rate. He’s an immovable object against the run. Tomlinson finished this past season with 3.5 sacks, 11 QB hits and got his hands on six passes at the line of scrimmage.
I always come back to SIS’s total points saved. Tomlinson’s 26 points saved were two points short of Kerry Hyder and on par with stars like Akiem Hicks and Fletcher Cox to give you an idea of how well Tomlinson played this past season.
CB Ronald Darby - Washington
RG Brandon Scherff is going to be overpaid. Edge rusher Ryan Kerrigan is an obvious veteran fit, but I’m going with Darby here as he’s more of a pressing need who could contribute more than Kerrigan.
Darby played 16 games for WFT this past season and was excellent. He broke up a whopping 17 passes on 85 targets and only gave up one touchdown. Darby is a speedy player who excels in both press and off-man coverage. If DeMeco Ryans will be more aggressive as a blitzer than Robert Saleh, getting an athlete like Darby on the perimeter makes sense. I’d guess Darby falls into the group of players who will sign a one or two-year deal, which is right up the 49ers' alley.
SIS had Darby saving 41 points this past season, which was just outside the top-20 for cornerbacks.