Disclaimer: I have no idea if the 49ers will re-sign sign any of these players.
The 49ers currently have roughly $8 million in cap space available and 27 players set to become free agents.
Don’t let that cap number fool you. At this point last offseason San Francisco was $5 million over the cap and were able to build arguably the deepest roster in the NFL.
The NFL salary cap isn’t a myth, however, if a team strongly desires to keep a player, they can find a way to make it happen.
Here are five players I think the 49ers should focus on bringing back to enhance their roster.
After a torn quad tendon sidelined McGlinchey the previous season, there were doubts about his ability to return to form in 2022.
The right tackle responded by putting together his best season as a 49er.
Over the final ten weeks McGlinchey allowed just one sack and one quarterback hit.
McGlinchey is expected to garner a new contract in the range of $16 million per season. For a team looking to get past falling just short in consecutive seasons, bringing back the best right tackle on the free agent market should be their top priority.
Heading into the season the center position was a major question mark for San Francisco.
Despite going into his age 30 season with only three NFL starts under his belt, Brendel won the starting job.
Brendel was key to San Francisco’s offensive line having the lowest percentage of sacks during Kyle Shanahan’s time with the 49ers. The former UCLA Bruin played the most snaps of any 49ers offensive lineman and allowed the fewest pressures among the starters.
After making $1.035 million in 2022, Brendel is due for a raise. His age and relative lack of experience should keep his price tag low enough for a return to San Francisco.
Gipson wasn’t signed until Jimmie Ward went down during training camp with a hamstring injury.
The veteran not only filled in for Ward, but Gipson also took his job.
Pairing Gipson with Talanoa Hufanga gave San Francisco’s secondary something they haven’t had in years, a pair of ball hawking safeties.
Gipson’s five interceptions led the 49ers. More importantly, his veteran presence helped Hufanga grow into an All-Pro in his first season as a starter.
At 32, Gipson is unclear about his future. The 49ers should make him an offer he can’t refuse.
Ebukam joined the 49ers in free agency prior to the 2021 season. The defensive end finished with 4.5 and five sacks in two seasons with San Francisco.
A solid run defender, Ebukam doesn’t have the burst you’d like to see opposite Nick Bosa. Considering the price tag for free agent edge rushers, Ebukam fits for the 49ers, especially if Arik Armstead can stay healthy and return to form.
San Francisco acquired Omenihu in 2021 in a midseason trade with Houston.
Omenihu showed off his versatility this season, lining up at both end positions along with playing along the interior. His length and quickness help him win. He finished 2022 with a career high 4.5 sacks while finishing second on the team with 16 quarterback hits.
An arrest in late January for misdemeanor domestic violence may impact how the 49ers and other teams view Onemihu’s value.