With 21 players scheduled to hit free agency and four more as restricted free agents, the 49ers could see some roster turnover in the offseason. Players like Mike McGlinchey, Jimmie Ward, and Azeez Al-Shaair could sign elsewhere, leaving the 49ers with some holes to fill.
The 49ers will have plenty of chances to shore up the roster with free agency and their projected 11 picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. Some positions will be tougher to fill than others, but these are the five spots the 49ers will need to address over the next few. months:
Of the 16 teams to finish in the top half of the league in sacks, the 49ers and Giants were the only two not to have at least three different players record five or more sacks. Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam were the only two on the 49ers to record at least five, with Charles Omenihu just missing the cut with 4.5 sacks on the season.
Kerry Hyder and Jordan Willis join Ebukam and Omenihu as pending free agents this offseason, leaving Bosa and Drake Jackson as the only two pass rushers under contract for 2023 who played snaps last season.
The 49ers have struggled to find a long-term solution next to Bosa but have excelled in short-term finds in the past like Hyder and Arden Key. There will likely be plenty of those quick-fix finds in free agency, but it may be time for the 49ers to find a long-term partner to play opposite of Bosa.
Will that be Drake Jackson? We’ll know by how aggressive the team is during the offseason at pursuing edge talent.
The 49ers’ offensive line has seen plenty of change over the past few seasons, but the constants have been Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey, who is scheduled to be a free agent and if/when he hits the open market, his price tag will jump with teams like the Jets and Dolphins in need of a right tackle.
The market value on a potential deal for McGlinchey according to Spotrac is a four-year deal with an average value of $10.7 million per season.
While McGlinchey has his ups and downs, he’s proven to be a quality NFL starter and may be tough to replace. The most logical solution to fill this need would be to bring back McGlinchey.
Jimmie Ward, Tashaun Gipson, and Tarvarius Moore are all scheduled to become free agents, leaving the 49ers with Talanoa Hufanaga and George Odum as the only two safeties under contract next season.
With DeMeco Ryans and Robert Saleh in need of a safety and the 49ers’ use of him this past season, Ward could be on his way out. Gipson is considering retirement, and Moore has proven to be a better special teams player than safety.
The 49ers will likely need to find a player outside the organization to fill this need, whether it be through the draft or free agency. Something to keep in mind: The 49ers were tied to free agent Jessie Bates last offseason before the Bengals gave him the franchise tag.
The only cornerback the 49ers could lose in free agency is Emmanuel Moseley, who has more than proven himself to be a starter. John Lynch has already expressed his interest in bringing Moseley back next season in what is likely the best option for both sides.
With Ward likely opting to test free agency, the 49ers will also need to find a solution in the slot. Deommodore Lenoir and Samuel Womack are both likely options that are already on the roster, but with a new defensive coordinator, an outside option is always a possibility. Steve Wilks has an extensive career as a defensive backs coach and could seek an option of his own to fill the spot as well.
Jake Brendel was a pleasant surprise after being named the 49ers’ starting center, despite only having three career starts entering 2022. He led the 49ers’ offense in snaps played while only allowing 14 pressures on pass 680 pass-blocking downs.
Center is an important position in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, but a position he’s struggled to keep filled. In the six seasons under Shanahan, the 49ers have had five different Week 1 starting centers, with Weston Richburg being the last to play in consecutive season openers from 2018 to 2019.
Even if the 49ers lose Brendel to free agency, they could re-sign Daniel Brunskill, who can play all five spots on the line and has 569 career snaps at center but hasn’t seen consistent play at the position since 2020.