Seven ideal free-agent targets to bolster 49ers' roster


Editor's note: This originally was published on March 12.The NFL open negotiating and free-agent signing period are typically a time of chaos.Next week is expected to be even more wild than usual.A salary cap that shrinks from $198.2 million to $182.5 million means more veterans than ever will be released.The market will be flooded with a lot of proven talent from around the league as teams look to cut costs.The 49ers have 27 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency. And there figures to be a lot of competition for some of their top talent, too.Across the country, the New York Jets have Robert Saleh as head coach and Mike LaFleur as offensive coordinator. The Jets will run the same offensive and defensive systems as the 49ers, so they will be looking for similar players.The Jets also have $45 million more in cap space than the 49ers.Here are seven moves the 49ers could make this offseason that would set themselves up for a successful 2021 season:

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The 49ers loved having Sanders on the team for the final part of the 2019 season. Shanahan described losing Sanders in free agency a year ago as “one of the tough decisions we had to make.”

Well, Sanders is now available. The New Orleans Saints released him just one season into a two-year, $16 million contract.

Sanders could be available for half the cost it would’ve taken to re-sign him last year. He fits well as the 49ers’ No. 3 receiver and mentor for starters Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.


The 49ers probably will not have a lot of money to invest in the defensive line, but they do have some work to do. The club needs to round out its D-line rotation.

Houston, 32, is a 10-year veteran who has been remarkably consistent through the years. He averaged more than nine sacks per season over the last four years.

There is a deep group of edge rushers available in free agency. Houston could end up being a bargain on a short-term deal.


Is there a starting job out there for Trubisky? It does not seem likely.

Therefore, the No. 2 pick of the Chicago Bears in 2017 will be looking for a spot with a good offense and a backup job that could turn into a major role.

With Garoppolo’s struggles to remain healthy and available, Trubisky could see a year in Shanahan’s system as a career-boosting opportunity.


Mack, a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons, was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 2010s.

At 35, he is not that same player. But he is smart. He has been with Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland and Atlanta, so he knows the requirements of the position.

The 49ers would look to get a season or two out of Mack while developing his replacement down the road.



The nickel position is the most difficult spot to play on defense. Williams’ knowledge of the position is on a different level.

The nickel has to be able to synthesize a lot of information with all the route combinations and more territory to cover than the outside cornerbacks.
If Williams is not back, the 49ers will undoubtedly experience some tough times at this spot.

The 49ers figure to bring back restricted free agent Emmanuel Moseley, and they would also like to re-sign cornerback Jason Verrett.



Juszczyk and the 49ers agreed to a five-year, $27 million contract Sunday to keep the versatile fullback in the Bay. The Jets figure to get involved with a few of the 49ers’ free agents, and likely had Juszczyk as a top target among the 49ers’ offensive players.

Juszczyk gives the 49ers’ run game a large element of deception because of his unique change-of-direction skills. His attributes enable offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel to get creative with the running game.


It all starts right here. If the 49ers re-sign Williams, the club is virtually assured of putting together a better offensive line than a year ago.

Williams gives Shanahan’s offense everything it needs from a left tackle. If he’s back, the offense will be fine.

If he’s not, it could be rough.

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