Free agents the 49ers should target

Disclaimer: I have no idea whether the 49ers will sign any of these players.

The open tampering period of NFL free agency begins on Monday morning at 9:00 Pacific.

Last week I ranked the 49ers top positions of need. Here are some names to look for should San Francisco decide to fill those holes during free agency.

5.) Center

Jake Brendel, 2022 team: 49ers, projected contract: 2 years, $4.5 million.

For the first time in his career Brendel became a full-time starter in 2022. He played well enough to be named as a Pro Bowl alternate.

Bradley Bozeman, 2022 team: Panthers, projected contract: 3 years, $13.5 million.

Bozeman was a fifth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2018. The former Alabama offensive lineman signed a one-year deal with Carolina for 2022.

Carolina averaged 151.6 yards per game on the ground in Bozeman’s 11 starts last season.

Ethan Pocic, 2022 team: Browns, projected contract: 3 years, $21 million.

Pocic was originally a second-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks. The 2017 selection struggled with injuries during his time in the Pacific Northwest and signed a one-year deal with Cleveland last offseason.

Playing between two of the NFL’s highest paid guards, Pocic stayed healthy and posted the best season of his career. He looks to use that success to cash in.

4.) Right Tackle

Mike McGlinchey, 2022 team: 49ers, projected contract: 4 years, $64 million.

After a torn quad tendon sidelined McGlinchey midway through 2021, many questioned if he would be able to return to form. The 2018 first-round pick did just that, setting himself up for a big payday with a solid 2022 season.

All signs point to McGlinchey playing elsewhere in 2023, potentially a big loss for San Francisco.

Kaleb McGary, 2022 team: Falcons, projected contract: 4 years, 60 million.

A 2019 first-round selection, McGary had the best season of his career in 2022. His strength is run blocking, but he has shown continual improvement in pass protection.

Jermain Eluemenor, 2022 team: Raiders, projected contract: 2 years, $7.5 million.

Eluemenor played a career-high 940 offensive snaps in 2022. He responded by allowing just three sacks and three quarterback hits. His versatility across the line of scrimmage fits with what the 49ers look for in free agency.

3.) Defensive End

Yannick Ngakoue, 2022 team: Colts, projected contract: 2 years, $25 million.

Ngakoue is a pass-rush specialist who has recorded at least eight sacks in each of his first seven seasons. He has experience in the wide-nine alignment, making him a perfect fit for a 49ers team needing to add a threat opposite Nick Bosa.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, 2022 team: Raiders, projected contract: 2 years, $11 million.

Originally a 2018 fifth-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams, Okoronkwo found a larger role with Houston last season. In his first year with the Texans, Okoronkwo finished with a career-high five sacks while playing just 518 snaps.

Markus Golden, 2022 team: Cardinals, projected contract: 1 year, $5 million.

The veteran pass rusher was released by Arizona to clear cap space. Golden has been up and down throughout his career. He racked up 11 sacks for the Cardinals in 2021, but just 2.5 this past season.

2.) Tight End

Austin Hooper, 2022 team: Titans, projected contract: 2 years, $17 million.

San Francisco has previously shown interest in Hooper. The former Stanford Cardinal was a third-round selection of the Atlanta Falcons when current 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was serving as offensive coordinator.

Hooper would provide the type of receiving threat the 49ers have been seeking in recent years.

Josh Oliver, 2022 team: Ravens, projected contract: 3 years, $10.5 million.

The former San Jose State standout was taken by Jacksonville with the 69th selection of the 2019 draft. Oliver played all 17 games for the first time in his career in 2022 as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.

Known primarily for his prowess as run blocker, Oliver finished last season with 14 catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns.

Robert Tonyan, 2022 team: Packers, projected contract: 2 years, $10 million.

Tonyan put up 1,437 yards and 17 touchdowns during five seasons with the Green Bay Packers. A solid route runner, Tonyan dropped only one of the 67 targets that came his way in 2022.

1.) Safety

Jessie Bates, 2022 team: Bengals, projected contract: 5 years, $80 million.

Bates is exactly what the 49ers need to add to their defense this offseason, a young ball-hawking safety to pair with Talanoa Hufanga.

In five seasons with Cincinnati, Bates missed just three starts and played over 1,000 snaps each year.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, 2022 team: Eagles, projected contract: 3 years, $34.5 million.

Gardner-Johnson is a safety who will separate a receiver from the ball. He started his career playing in the slot for New Orleans.

Jimmie Ward, 2022 team: 49ers, projected contract: 2 years, $13.5 million.

Ward missed the start of last season after suffering a hamstring injury during training camp. As a result, he moved back to the slot upon his return. His coverage skills and toughness allow Ward to give the 49ers the perfect fit at the position.

During a recent Instagram live session, Ward said not to rule out a return to the 49ers.

Tashaun Gipson, 2022 team: 49ers, projected contract: 1 year, $1.25 million.

Gipson was signed in the middle of training camp and gave the 49ers something they had been missing at safety, a ball-hawk.

If San Francisco chooses to bring the veteran safety back in 2023 they should still look to the draft to bring in a long-term solution opposite Talanoa Hufanga.

Bonus options


Chase McLaughlin, 2022 team: Colts, projected contract: 5 years, $20 million.

Eddy Pineiro, 2022 team: Panthers, projected contract: 1 year, $2.5 million.

Matt Gay, 2022 team: Rams, projected contract: 4 years, $20.5 million.

Wide Receiver

Odell Beckham Jr, 2022 team: Injured, projected contract: 3 years, $33 million.

Mack Hollins, 2022 team: Raiders, projected contract: 2 years, $8 million.

Parris Campbell, 2022 team: Colts, projected contract: 1 years, $2.5 million.

This article has 42 Comments

  1. Sign OBJ, trade B Aiyuk for a 1st round pick and draft a OT.
    Resign Brendel.
    Sign A. Key, resign J. Ward and T. Gipson.
    Draft 2 DTs with our third round picks.
    Draft a PK, QB, 2 TEs, CB, RB, a second OT, and DE

      1. agree. OBJ does not help us much and he is constantly injured. Age caught up with him.

      2. Felx,
        I notice that you tend to give negative reviews to most of us who go out on a limb and express our opinions on what we think the 49ers should do or what we think they will do but you rarely go out onto the same limb yourself. What off season moves do you think the 49ers will pull off or what moves do you think they should?

        1. I notice that you don’t like people to disagree with you. You are free to make wild a@@ guesses and I’m free to disagree. As for your question, I’ll leave wild a@@ guesses to you. Don’t be a snowflake.

          1. Felix,
            I have absolutely no problem with anyone disagreeing with me, in fact it is what makes the blog interesting it would be a pretty boring place if every one just agreed with each other. I was just hoping to get your opinion to see where it differed from mine. I wasn’t even a little bit miffed. I do wish you were just a little bit respectful of others opinions and didn’t fall back on name calling.

              1. You state an opinion, I respond with my opinion, you criticize my intentions, I return the favor, and on it does. If you don’t like to be criticized, then don’t start it.

    1. Trade Aiyuk for a first? Yeah, okey, maybe trade Lance for Mahomes straight up, too. In fact, we’ll do that and KC still pays for his contract. The two are equally likely.

  2. Jack: “Free agents the 49ers should target.”
    * The 9er FO could restructure 2 – 4 contracts and free up $20 to $30 Mil. then sign 1 or 2 free agents to expensive contracts, but I doubt they will. Not when they’ll need ~$20 Mil. plus another $10 in bonuses / incentives, to sign Bosa to a new contract.
    * IMO, Lynch will set on his hands during the first wave of signings and wait to see who is left and available for $2 to $6
    Mil. on one year contracts, as he has been doing. The 2 positions Lynch may address with free agents making $7 – $10 Mil. P/Y is QB and OT?

    1. I highly doubt they will pay 7 to 10 Million for a QB. There’s no need and who would be willing to be QB 3 whose worth that kind of money. No one.

      1. Felix
        * “I highly doubt they will pay 7 to 10 Million for a QB. There’s no need and who would be willing to be QB 3 whose worth that kind of money. No one.”
        * There is an old adage about people who make assumptions as facts, are you familiar with it?
        Notice I said “MAY”. Unless you can read Lynch’s mind, he may, or may not, see Lance as the QB of the future.
        He may see him as injury prone? (again, notice the use of MAY) Also, no one knows how soon Purdy will recover, or how strong his arm will be when he has recovered.
        Since you like to assume, lets assume worst case for both Lance and Purdy! $7 to $10 Mil. for a QB, VS a lost season is, IMO, cheap! It also raises the question of rose colored glasses, does it not?

          1. Felix: “Cry me a river”
            That’s the best you can do, is resort to childish insults? LMAO
            That, homer, is not an opinion! That is a FACT….

  3. R.I.P. Coach Bud Grant who died today at 95 and who went to four Super Bowls in eight years and lost all of them. Kyle Michael Shanahan has long been an admirer of Coach Grant’s stoic ways and is well on his way to emulating the legend’s record.

    1. I can still see Grant’s stern look on the sidelines. He was a no-none-sense head coach that helped coach up some great players. The “Purple People Eaters” defense was among one of the best defenses ever constructed. They were fun to watch.

    2. Are you trying to be a smart ass here? You can always tell the dumbass fans from the normal ones by how they respond to Jimmy G and Kyle Shanahan. The normal fans love both. The smartass fans bitch and scream because we only went to the NFC championship 3 times in four years and only won once. Which are you?

  4. I’m waiting to see what sort of preposterous comment BayAreaFan posts about Sackorpick…especially since Jack didn’t touch on signing a QB….

    1. It looks like it, Coach. It certainly has been the consensus for a while.

      Chicago has a need to protect Fields and to establish a better run-game in order to lessen Fields’s running.

      More importantly, the Bears have the coin to do so. It wouldn’t surprise me if Chicago drafts a blue-chip Olineman to build a competitive Oline for the foreseeable future.

      My only hope is that the 49ers re-sign Jake Brendel. Replacing one Olineman is better than replacing two.

    2. Word on the street is that the Texans will make a bid for Jake Brendel. I hope the 49ers can match and or add money to keep Brendel, but it seems as if Jake played himself out of San Francisco. He exceeded expectations.

      1. AES,
        I think the 49ers will resign D. Brunskill and move him to C he has been good at every position he has played. It would not surprise me if they ended up with Brunskill at C and McKivitz at RT. I won’t be happy but I won’t be surprised. If they do end up with that OL I hope that means they will sign a FA DT, DE or S 2 out of those 3 positions.

        1. You might be right about that, Coach.
          Brunskill can play a few positions along the Oline. But, I still would prefer Brendel at C because I feel that he could become even better.

          Jake virtually came out of nowhere to become a top 15 center among his peers. His pay will be in the $4mil range and that seems like a good deal for the 49ers because a FA may come at the same or higher payday.
          If the 49ers feel that they already have a current C prospect in-house that’s a better deal.

          1. Agreed. They should keep Brendel as he had a very good season and should be better this next season. Also he is likely reasonably priced. I hope they sign Brusnkill as well but on a backup role. The big question mark in my opinion is what the do at RT

            1. Re-signing Brendel and keeping Brunskill in the fold would help to maintain continuity along the Oline. Plus, I believe that the 49ers scout team already has a list of possible 3-5 rd options that they could choose from.

              If the 49ers could find an all-pro TE (Kittle) in the 5th rd, I’m sure they could find a good Olineman or two on day three.

  5. center- Bring Brendel back on the cheap. Pro bowl alternate first season as a starter!
    RT- go with in house options ,Mckivitz, Zeclij, Moore, Burford etc…. if those guys don’t inspire confidence…..draft a guy, look to bargain, aging FAs,,,
    Pass rush- sign Yannick Ngakoue to a 3-4 year deal. He bookends with Bosa, giving us a few years to find the next guy organically via the draft ( or gives Drake Jackson time to develop )
    TE- draft a guy or 2! Trade up if we must.
    S- give Bates a huge contract and be done with it! If Ward can’t find a big payday…..bring him back to play slot. Would also give us great depth at the position and versatility. If he gets paid elsewhere, bring Gipson back if hes only commanding $1 mil a year

  6. Gipson re-signed. I bet that means no Bates, Ward or Gardner -Johnson.
    I’ll hold out hope they have enough cap space to splurge on at least one top tier guy, like last year with Ward………and use it on Yannik

  7. serious question to all……… whos got it better than us, besides the Chiefs?
    I ask because i saw the name of a poster, under Kyle Shanahan, niners are a bust.
    It irritates me that people will bash KS for not winning a SB, instead of praising him for getting close……EVERY YEAR! i mean, jeez.

    So who has it better?
    Bills have Allen, but have to get past KC every year, play in extreme cold and have a poor stadium.
    Bengals have a qb and wr…but not much else unless you count the cheapskate owner.
    Rams and Bucs won SB recently……but are now shells of themselves……
    Eagles have a qb (ive never been sold on guys who have only 1 year of good play under their belt…..but i wouldnt bet against Hurts) bit they lost both coordinators and i dont think their HC is anywhere near KS level. Plus there against the cap and about to lose many good players…..and other good players are 1-2 years away from retirement.

    So whos got it better than us ( Harbaugh phrase) Shanahan haters????
    IMHO, we do have our qb……..we just have to figure out who it is

    1. Those people you refer to are not fans obviously and have very little knowledge of football. All they know how to do is complain and criticize. No body got it better than us.

  8. j
    * Brendel’s projected market value is ~$7 Mil P/Y (What Texas is willing to pay). IMO, 9ers let him walk.
    * RT is Mckivitz’s to lose. I also agree, the 9ers will draft a RT
    * Per Spotrac: DE Yannick Ngakoue 2022 salary = $13 Mil P/Y ($5Mil Base + $8 Mil Roster Bonus)
    * NOTE: DE Yannick Ngakoue, who led the Colts with 9.5 sacks during the 2022 season, will sign a three-year, $45.5 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s projected that $27.5 million of the deal will be guaranteed.
    * I agree, bring Gipson back but it will likely cost the 9ers more than $1 Mil. P/Y.
    * Sign Jessie Bates to a $5 years, $80 million! 9ers can afford it, but would have to restructure (back load) some contracts and pay Bates an $8 to $10 Mil signing bonus.
    * TE I don’t see the 9ers signing Austin Hooper to a 2 years, $17 Mil P/Y contract. More likely they’ll draft, or sign a cheaper FA TE.

  9. The Texans have huge cap room it is likely they will pay more than the 49ers can afford for Brendel. Now that Gipson is under contract I would like to see them Sign J. Ward with Wilks strength being defensive backs this could be a great defensive backfield. All they need to do to improve this D by 20% is sign a FA D lineman either a DT or DE who is a pass rush specialist. As a secondary cheap FA signing I would love to see them resign A. Key. That would leave OT as the only position with a question mark. I’m am very likely not going to love the O line going into the season but the rest of the roster could be very very very good.

  10. I like a few of the players you mentioned. Not sure I’d pay Ngokue that much. The guy I think would be a steal is Parris Campbell. I thought he was one of the best WRs coming out of college. He’s suffered through atrocious QB play so it’s hard to really project what he’d look like in a 49er uniform. That could be a rags to riches story if the 49ers really do end up trading Aiyuk.

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