Disclaimer: I have no idea if the 49ers will sign any of these players.
Some free agents with offers from a few teams may not sign with the Niners unless Jimmy Garoppolo commits to the franchise long term.
Regardless, these are five players I think the Niners will target and try hard to sign.
1. Justin Pugh, OG, New York Giants. Twenty-seven-year-old former first-round pick and one of the best left guards in the NFL. Has the speed and athleticism to thrive in Kyle Shanahan’s outside-zone running game unlike many other big-name free-agent offensive linemen, such as Andrew Norwell from the Carolina Panthers.
2. Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland Browns. Carlos Hyde probably will sign with another team for more money than the 49ers are willing to pay him. So, the Niners will sign Crowell, who is 25 — two years younger than Hyde. Crowell averaged 4.1 yards per carry this season, and played for Shanahan as a rookie in 2014.
3. Taylor Gabriel, WR, Atlanta Falcons. Twenty-six-year-old deep threat who caught six touchdown passes and gained 579 receiving yards as Shanahan’s No. 3 receiver in 2016. Would give the 49ers a speed receiver other than injury-prone Marquise Goodwin.
4. Bruce Irvin, DE/OLB, Oakland Raiders. This is if the Raiders release him. Under contract through 2019. Thirty-year-old edge rusher who would make the 49ers defensive line faster, and unlock DeForest Buckner’s potential as an interior rusher.
5. Sean Smith, CB, Oakland Raiders. Again, this is if the Raiders release him. Under contract through 2019. Thirty-year-old corner who broke up 11 passes in 2016 for Ken Norton Jr. and his Seahawks-style defense, but broke up only four passes in 2017 playing mostly quarters coverage under John Pagano. A good fit for Robert Saleh’s Cover-3 system.