ESPN’s Matt Bowen went through the top 50 free agents and determined where their best landing spot would be. He had the 49ers signing a cornerback, which we’ll get to. But let’s start with the heavy hitters.
7. Mike McGlinchey, OT
Best team fit: Chicago Bears
McGlinchey didn’t produce his best tape in pass protection last season, but he has the blocking traits at a premier position to upgrade a Bears offensive front that must do a better job of protecting quarterback Justin Fields. He wins with angles and the ability to get off the ball, and while McGlinchey’s pass block win rate slipped to 89.6% this season, his run block win rate of 81.2% ranked fifth overall in the NFL. It could be a big, multiyear deal for McGlinchey, and Bears general manager Ryan Poles would be adding a starting right tackle to address the subpar play of the Chicago offensive line (58 sacks allowed).
If Mike McGlinchey is viewed as the seventh best available free agent, then it’s been nice knowing ya.
We’re looking at his market in terms of his production with the 49ers. But when compare McGlinchey’s play to the average right tackle, it’s easy to understand why he’d be handsomely paid in the open market.
Lamar Jackson. Geno Smith. Derek Carr. Daniel Jones. You have to scroll down a bit, but No. 25 on the list is Jimmy Garoppolo, who Bowen believes would fit in well with the Jets:
25. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB
Best team fit: New York Jets
Yes, the Jets could trade for Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Carr is visiting with them, too. But if none of that comes together for New York, Garoppolo would immediately make the Jets better from an offensive perspective under new coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. They will likely feature the timing and rhythm throws, along with play-action elements. Garoppolo completed 67.2% of his passes — with 16 touchdown passes — in his 11 games played last season before suffering a foot injury. I’ll also mention the Bucs as a fit for Garoppolo, too, if they can figure out the money.
Jimmy is the favorite to land with the Raiders, but the Jets are a close second. The Jets are a playoff team last year if they had Garoppolo. Of course, the gamble is him staying healthy, but New York has the weapons, the system, and the defense.
A few players later, the 49ers found a starter opposite of Mooney Ward:
28. Cameron Sutton, CB
Best team fit: San Francisco 49ers
Sutton will have multiple suitors given his flexibility to play in the slot; Tennessee, Atlanta and Las Vegas all work here. But with the number of 49ers defensive backs heading to free agency and Sutton’s ability to cover in man and find the ball in zone, the fit works in San Francisco with new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks. Sutton posted three interceptions and 15 pass breakups for the Steelers in 2022, which were both career highs.
Sutton was spectacular with the Steelers this past season. Sutton allowed only 5.1 yards per target on 63 passes in his direction, while breaking up ten of those and allowing a completion percentage of 41 percent. He also had three interceptions and, per Sports Info Solutions, dropped five (he’ll fit right in!), which tells you he was in position to make plays.
Sutton played 655 snaps on the outside at cornerback, and occasionally slid inside, where 185 of his snaps came in the slot. Positional versatility matters and would allow Wilks to get creative.
Spotrac projects Sutton to earn an annual contract that pays him $7.6 million. The 49ers can afford that, and it’d shore up a secondary that’s been plagued by injuries at cornerback seemingly every year.
Sports Info Solutions had Talanoa Hufanga and Mooney in the top 16 of their total points saved metric for all secondary members. Sutton came in at 21st. He’d give San Francisco two veterans on the outside while Samuel Womack learns the ropes in the slot.