There’s a reason there are some big names still available in free agency. The compensatory free agency period is officially over. Now, teams can sign the Richard Sherman’s and Tony Jefferson’s of the world.
Both of those names are on the 49ers' radar, so we won’t go in-depth about them. Let’s take a look at a few names who could help the Niners right away.
WR Golden Tate
Kyle Shanahan believes the 49ers can win with the receivers that are currently on the roster. He also said that wouldn’t prevent the team from looking to upgrade at the position. As one might imagine, the wide receiver market isn’t full of talent after the draft and free agency. Names like Alshon Jeffery and Dede Westbrook won’t get anyone excited.
If there’s one free agent that fits the 49ers' philosophy — a “bulldog” who excels with the ball in his hands and fights for every yard — it’s Tate. Tate is generally among the league leaders in yards after the catch. He’s also an above-average punt returner. Even at 32, he’d bring value to the 49ers' offense.
While the team elected to pass on drafted a wideout, bringing in a veteran like Tate could go a long way for the youth that’s on the roster. The icing on the cake is that Tate would cost next to nothing to add.
TE Zach Ertz
Sticking with the pass-catcher theme, Ertz would be an intriguing, low-risk, high reward option. Ertz is still on the Eagles roster, but several reports during April insisted that Philly tried to trade him. Their fans believe Ertz has a good chance of being released. Philadelphia could save about $4 million if they cut Ertz.
This is a name for the front office to monitor. Ertz missed five games this past season due to injury and always seems like a player who is banged up. The 49ers took a risk on a player who was oft-injured at the same position last year, and that didn’t pay off. Ertz has been more productive throughout his career than Jordan Reed and is one year removed from a 900 yard receiving year and two seasons removed from a 1,100-yard season.
Ertz could sign for a one-year prove-it deal and would serve as the de facto WR3. The Niners could live in 12 personnel, which may be better suited for their quarterback room, anyway.
Plus, Ertz went to Stanford.
EDGE Melvin Ingram
There are two edge rushers on the market that the Niners should keep an eye on. Melvin Ingram and Olivier Vernon. Ingram feels like a better fit as he is more athletic, comfortable in coverage, and is simply a better player.
Once upon a time, Ingram was viewed as one of the better edge rushers in the game. He missed three games in 2019 and only played in seven games last season — where he didn’t record a single sack.
That could come in handy for the 49ers when it comes to negotiations. Before 2020, Ingram had recorded no fewer than seven sacks in a season. He could serve as the veteran, alpha personality San Francisco needs upfront.
While much has been made about receiver, not adding an edge rusher could be a bigger risk considering the state of the roster. Ingram would take pressure off those coming off injury or the inexperienced edge rushers while serving as a part-time pass rusher.
As is the case with each name discussed, there isn’t much risk by signing Ingram.