Five Biggest Free Agency Moves: San Francisco 49ers
With free agency now into its sixth week as April’s Draft draws closer, it’s time to start reviewing which teams filled some needs and who got weaker. Here are the five biggest free agency moves for each team so far.
After another disappointing season, the 2–14 49ers cleared house. Owner Jed York starts over with former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan; his fourth head coach in as many years. Shanahan will team up with new general manager John Lynch, a former Tampa Bay safety-turned TV analyst, with no prior front office experience. Here are San Francisco’s five biggest free agency moves:
1 — Finding some quarterbacks
Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert are gone, replaced by former Bears quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. While the 49ers may still draft a quarterback, Hoyer looks set to be the starter, at least until Shanahan can potentially sign Kirk Cousins next off-season. Hoyer played under Shanahan in 2014 with the Cleveland Browns, completing 55% of his passes for 3326 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Hoyer signed a two year, $15 million deal while Barkley will back him up on a two year contract.
2 — Boosting the receiving corps
The 49ers had one of the league’s worst receiving corps last year, but look much improved ahead of this season. Pierre Garcon reunites with Shanahan on a five year, $47.5 million deal. Garcon had 79 catches for 1041 yards and three touchdowns last season. San Francisco also re-signed last year’s leading receiver Jeremy Kerley on a three year, $10.5 million contract while also adding speedster Marquise Goodwin (two years, $8 million).
3 — Trading for Jeremy Zuttah
In his first trade as a general manager, John Lynch upgraded San Francisco’s offensive line by swapping sixth rounders with Baltimore for center Jeremy Zuttah. The Ravens had younger players to replace Zuttah, who can still play well and is the kind of intelligent center that Shanahan needs to run his offense. Zuttah started all 16 games for the Ravens last season.
4 — Signing Kyle Juszczyk
Shanahan loves fullbacks, but paying $21 million over four years for Juszczyk looks crazy. Shanahan’s fullback with the Falcons last year, Patrick DiMarco, signed a four year, $8.5 million contract with Buffalo and only had seven catches for 52 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers wouldn’t have faced much of a bidding war for Juszczyk, and they could’ve waited until later on in free agency to sign him to a cheaper deal.
5 — Adding to the linebacker spot
The 49ers have a deep crop of linebackers, headlined by Navarro Bowman. However, Bowman suffered his second Achilles injury in three years last October. So the 49ers signed former Raider Malcolm Smith to a staggering five year, $26.5 million deal for two forced fumbles and an interception last year. Smith isn’t really worth such a high pay check. San Francisco also signed former Broncos linebacker Dekoda Watson to a three year, $6 million deal. Watson was a role player last year with a sack and a forced fumble, but his real value will be on special teams, where he led the Broncos in tackles last season.