We are only a couple of weeks away from the new league year, which means free-agency will be here before you know it. We’ve gone through each division in the NFC other than the NFC East.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some potential free agents the 49ers could look into.
Edge rusher Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants
Carter would fit the mold for what the Niners are looking for on the edge based on the past couple of seasons. A high-end athlete — Carter ran a 4.5 40-yard dash with a 36” vertical at 250 pounds — who is explosive, can move, and is versatile.
Carter finished the season on a strong note, however. From Week 15 and on, he had seven tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and five sacks for the Giants. Carter, who will likely have to settle for a prove-it deal, could be this year’s version of Arden Key and be an asset for an already deep defensive line.
RB J.D. McKissic, Washington Commanders
Ideally, you re-sign Raheem Mostert, and that’s your veteran back. However, the Commanders don’t have a realistic target for the 49ers, so I went with McKissic, who could serve as is an excellent pass protector and third-down back. In addition, he’d be valuable out of the backfield and give Trey Lance a reliable check-down option who could create after the catch.
I know you immediately rolled your eyes at the thought of signing a running back in free agency, but McKissic isn’t going to cost more than $3 million per season. Moreover, his fit and value take pressure off the rookie running backs the 49ers drafted a year ago.
McKissic had 43 receptions for 9.2 yards per reception. In addition, he averaged 5.4 yards per rush outside of the tackle. Perhaps best of all, McKissic averaged nine yards after the catch per reception this past season.
CB Steven Nelson, Philadelphia Eagles
Nelson had three seasons in a row where he allowed a completion percentage of 50% or worse prior to 2021. Nelson had an off-year in Philly but could be a potential K’Waun Williams replacement in the slot for cheap.
Nelson has only blitzed six times in the past three seasons combined. That might be more telling about how his previous coaching staff feels about Nelson’s tackling ability than the two missed tackles he had this past year.
Nelson has a body of work in coverage over the past couple of seasons that rival any slot cornerback. It’s no surprise that he played better with a pass rush like the Steelers. That allowed him to be more aggressive and take more risks. Nelson would have the same luxury in San Francisco.
Dallas Cowboys - N/A
Dallas has enough free agents that will pique your interest. Michael Gallup and Randy Gregory would be fun, but this isn’t Madden. Unfortunately, most of the Cowboys are out of the Niners' price range.
Signing a Keanu Neal would effectively be swapping out Marcel Harris. You’re not going to give tight end Dalton Schultz $12 million a season when you already have George Kittle on your roster. Instead of signing their lower-level free agents, it would make more sense for the 49ers to develop homegrown talent.
Much like they did in the playoffs, Dallas disappoints.