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1 player on each side of the ball the 49ers can’t afford to lose in free agency

A cornerback that missed the majority of the season and a utility lineman

San Francisco 49ers Training Camp Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Free agency is upon us, and teams deal with losing great players because of the money they command. The salary cap era puts organizations to the test with roster building. That’ll be yet another challenge for the 49ers this offseason.

Speaking of the Niners, certain players have priced themselves out of the team’s range. John Lynch spoke at the combine about Mike McGlinchey leaving due to his market. Jimmie Ward isn’t likely to return as he looks to collect one more payday at age 31.

Who can’t the 49ers afford to lose in free agency? Let’s take a look at one player on each side of the ball.

Defense: Emmanuel Moseley, CB

Before Moseley’s ACL injury in Carolina, he was playing the best football of his career. His foray into free agency would have mirrored Charvarius Ward’s, as both players were in line for a payday after going undrafted.

Spotrac has Moseley’s projected market at $16.6 million per year. That is unlikely due to the injury and his timetable. Sustaining the injury in Week 5 of 2022 means Moseley won’t be ready for the beginning of 2023. Will a team be willing to invest in a player returning from that type of injury? The answer is no.

So, why is Moseley the player the 49ers can’t afford to lose in 2023? His contract number should be easy to absorb, and it gives this team phenomenal depth at the cornerback position. Deommodore Lenoir was exceptional during the playoffs and can fill in across from Ward. With Jimmie Ward leaving the nickel spot, Samuel Womack can fill in.

When Moseley does return, it will likely kick Lenoir back inside and create a top-corner trio in the NFL. Currently, the 49ers have two defensive ends under contract (that will change), and there is a chance the pass rush takes a step back from 2022.

If it does, the 49ers will need their back end to be as stout as ever. Moseley can make that so while proving his worth again before hitting the open market.

Offense: Daniel Brunskill, OL

Stay with me here. As I previously mentioned, Mike McGlinchey is leaving in free agency. Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers tenure is over, and he is in line for a payday that mirrors the going rate for starting quarterbacks. Jake Brendel could walk in free agency with the 49ers replacing him with Nick Zakelj. Tyler Kroft and Ross Dwelley will likely walk with the 49ers replacing them with draft picks.

So, why Daniel Brunskill? The 49ers will likely have a new center and right tackle in 2023. Brunskill has proven his value with his versatility and steady play. Considering Brunskill’s AAV of 2.4 million dollars and his contributions, that is considerable bang for your buck.

Brunskill’s value to the 49ers in 2023 is as a safety net in case of injury or poor play from the new center or right tackle. If either player struggles, Brunskill can be counted on to steady the position.

The perfect example is in 2022, Spencer Burford and Brunskill rotated at right guard. In Las Vegas, Aaron Banks went down with an injury, and Brunskill stepped in at left guard.

For the amount of money, Brunskill will command, his contributions and value will be huge.