Is this the final 49ers season for these five players?

Since joining the 49ers in 2017, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have built one of the best rosters in the NFL.

Their first three drafts resulted in at least one player becoming an All-Pro. Since 2019, San Francisco has drafted 21 players, and 18 are still on the roster.

George Kittle is among the best at his position in the game, same with Fred Warner, Deebo Samuel, and Nick Bosa. Kittle and Warner signed contract extensions, making them the highest-paid players at their position. Deebo Samuel is in line to receive a massive new contract this offseason, and Nick Bosa is likely to receive his next offseason.

With the big money they are spending on their top-end talent, San Francisco is cutting out the NFL’s middle class. That’s life with a salary cap, making it even more critical for the 49ers to hit on their draft picks.

Rosters in the NFL are never entirely stable; there’s always a decent amount of turnover each year. With that in mind, here are five players who could be entering their final seasons as 49ers.

  1. Jimmie Ward

The veteran is a favorite of the 49ers coaching staff. Ward dealt with several injuries during his first five NFL seasons, playing more than ten games twice. However, things have turned around on the injury front for the 2014 first-round draft pick, as Ward has missed only six games over the last three years.

Ward will turn 31 in July and is entering the final year of his contract. San Francisco is scheduled to have a dead cap total of $6.395 million for Ward in 2023 after using void years to lower his salary cap hit.

While Ward is a valuable player, he has managed only two interceptions in the regular season over the last five years.

  1. Emmanuel Moseley

Moseley joined the 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and made his first start for San Francisco in week five of the following year.

A solid cornerback, injuries have limited Moseley to only 23 games over the last two seasons.

San Francisco has added several cornerbacks in the last two drafts, including Ambry Thomas, Deommodore Lenoir, Samuel Womack, and Tariq Castro-Fields. In addition, the 49ers focused on acquiring another cornerback, Charvarius Ward, this offseason.

With no contract in place for 2022, the writing is on the wall for this season to be all about Moseley earning a big payday from another team in free agency next offseason.

  1. Mike McGlinchey

Selected by the 49ers with the ninth pick of the 2018 draft, San Francisco chose to use the fifth-year option to retain McGlinchey for 2022.

McGlinchey is trying to come back from a torn quad tendon and says he will be ready to go when the 49ers open training camp.

Speaking during the 49er’s pre-draft press conference, the local media in attendance asked McGlinchey if 2022 would be a prove it year with regards to a future contract.

“No, I don’t think anybody has ever indicated this would be a prove-it year, and you can’t operate that way,” stated McGlinchey. “That’s just an unbelievable amount of pressure to put on yourself and put on everything that’s going on.”

“I want to be a 49er, but at the end of the day, it’s not going to be my decision. The best and only thing I can control is going out when the Fall comes and playing the best football that I can and let the chips fall as they may.”

No one with the 49ers may have told McGlinchey he needed to prove his value to the team this season, but their actions have. San Francisco spent three picks over the last two drafts on offensive tackles.

  1. Dre Greenlaw

A fifth-round selection in 2019, Greenlaw is best known for his game saving tackle on the goal line which secured the 49ers win over Seattle in week 17 of his rookie season. Since then, Greenlaw has struggled with injuries and ineffective play at times.

Entering the final year of his contract, along with the emergence of Azeez Al-Shaair, Greenlaw may find himself playing for a contract with a new team following this season.

  1. Trent Williams

Williams is the only player on this list who is not entering the final year of his contract and is admittedly a bit of a longshot to be released after this season.

Why is Williams on this list?

Williams signed a new contract before the 2021 season, making him the highest-paid left tackle in the NFL. The way in which San Francisco structured the contract makes 2024 to 2026 option years, which San Francisco opts into if they pick up his $10 million guarantee by April 1, 2023.

The decision with Williams is a gamble either way for San Francisco. Williams has not played an entire season since 2013 and has missed at least two games each season since the following year.

 Beginning in 2023, Williams will carry a cap hit of at least $26.27 million over the final four seasons of his contract.

Restructuring the contract to lower the cap hit is an option, but that’s a considerable risk to take with an aging veteran offensive lineman.

This one will be interesting to keep an eye on next offseason.

This article has 12 Comments

  1. McGlinchey is one of the softest lineman we’ve seen in quite some time. Every time he opens his mouth you hear a general lack of passion for the game and no sign of competitive drive. You’d think some of Trent Williams’ toughness would rub off on him but I guess not. Dude would rather be out on a golf course on Sundays. I guess we all do. He probably will be in a year or two. 😑

  2. If this is Ward’s final season and Tartt doesn’t return, the Niners really should have drafted Brisker Penn St. in the 2nd. Hopefully they can extend him for two more years so he can close out his career with the Niners.

  3. Jack
    I DON’T dispute your assessment that “Since joining the 49ers in 2017, JL and KS have built one of the best rosters in the NFL.”
    I would say however, that your assumptions of “these five players” futures, is at best CONJECTURE!
    Do you not agree with me, that each of their futures will be determined by how they perform this season?
    By my assessment, the bigger questions that need to be answered this season are:
    * Who will be starting at QB, If Lance has a slow start? JG?
    * What’s next for Deebo? Will he receive a new contract? Will he hold out?
    * Will Mack retire and if so, who will be starting at center?
    * Who will be the starting guards for the 2022 season?
    * Who will be starting at strong safety?
    * Who are the starting cornerbacks? And who ‘s starting at nickel

    1. Agree on Lance question. If there’s any truth to the Lombardo leak, and Lance’s reported unreadiness as an
      NFL QB, have to wonder who’ll be 49ers starting QB by mid season 2022. JG? Sudfeld? Purdy? What’s Plan
      B?

      1. Sure sounds as if Rich Scangarello was really down on Trey Lance. Wonder
        if that’s the reason he’s moved on to University of Kentucky, whether on his
        own accord or with a push from 49ers FO. Really intrigued by Lance and whether
        he’ll be a boom or bust. We’ll soon find out.

    2. With all due respect, GEEP, I think you might have it backwards. It’s actually easier to project where a lot of these veteran players futures fit within the 49ers long term plans, than it is to answer some of your bigger questions that are predicated on how these players perform heading into this season. It seems to me that those questions you are asking are more reliant on how the rest of this offseason, especially training camp and the preseason, plays out, than it is to project the future of a lot of these veterans. We already know what to expect out of most of these veterans based on their past performances, don’t we? Also, because of the salary cap, along with father time, teams need to plan ahead and draft according to future needs, predicting where these veterans fit into the future plans of the 49ers is more than simply conjecture.

      For instance:

      Of course Alex Mack is almost certainly going to be the 49ers week one starter at OC, if he chooses to return for another season, so isn’t predicting whether or not he’s going to retire the very definition of “conjecture” (conjecture = an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information)? We don’t know any of the relevant information of whether or not Mack is for sure ready to retire, so if guessing whether he will of not that isn’t “conjecture”, I don’t know what is. And as for – who will replace him if he does retire, which all signs point to him hanging up his cleats – seems to me that that’s a question that will only be answered once the competition plays out through training camp.

      However when it comes to these established veterans like Jimmy Ward, and Trent Williams, who are not only getting older, but have also established there monetary value, it becomes a lot easier to predict where they fit within the team’s future plans.

      For instance: We all know that there is a limited amount of money to go around, right? And we also know that football players tend to start breaking down as they get older right? So there are a lot more “knowns” when it comes to these veteran players, and therefore there are a lot more knowns when it comes to predicting whether or not the team is likely to look to move on from these players, simply based on these criteria.

      It’s not conjecture to assume that Jimmie Ward is getting old, and is much more expensive than one of these younger, less expensive Safeties. Even if Jimmie has a good season this year, he’ll be 32 years old in 2023, and a lot more expensive than some of these younger, cheaper Safeties who are either already on the 49ers roster, or who will either be free agents in 2023, or might be available via a trade right? That’s not conjecture, bro., those are facts.

      How about Mike McGlinchey? He’s coming off of a serious injury, right? What are the chances that he’s suddenly a better pass protector going into his this season, when he wasn’t very good at it when he was fully healthy? The thing is, he was a good run-blocker, and he was a first round pick, so even if he comes back this season playing at near the same level he was before his injury, he’s still a former first round pick who struggles with pass protection right? And eing a first round pick means he’s probably going to command more money than he’s probably worth. The 49ers have been stockpiling versatile OL’s for the last couple years, so it’s NOT simply conjecture to project that the 49ers are looking for his replacement, so unless the 49ers have completely whiffed on these other potential RT replacements, it’s not “conjecture” to predict he’s likely gone after this season, right? But it is conjecture to try to predict who will replace him now, because the 49ers can’t possibly know exactly what they have in a lot of these young, versatile OL’s, until they see it this season.

      And the same basic principle applies to guys like:

      Trent Williams – who is 33 years old, and who’s contract has a potential out after 2023, that won’t break their bank, and …

      Dre Greenlaw – the 49ers already have viable replacements (if not better replacements) for Greenlaw, who has certainly been solid, but unspectacular, and will be a UFA after this season, and …

      Emmanuel Mosely – who is another solid but unspectacular player who is currently unsigned, and likely not in the 49ers future plans considering their 2021 & 2022 drafts, and …

      Dontae Johnson (UFA in 2023), Mitch Wishnowsky (UFA in 2023), Robbie Gould (UFA in 2023) …

      and of course Jimmy Garoppolo – who might be a good leader, but who is obviously an injury waiting to happen who is overpaid, never seems to improve year over year, is a very limited passer outside a specific portion of the field, and has lost a lot of his mobility both inside and outside the pocket.

      1. 49 Reasons
        “With all due respect, GEEP, I think you might have it backwards. It’s actually easier to project where a lot of these veteran players futures fit within the 49ers (( LONG TERM PLANS))?

        * Where did Jack say say anything about ((LONG TERM PLANS))?
        Jack said: “With that in mind, here are 5 players who COULD BE entering THEIR FINAL SEASON AS 49ERS.”
        FACT: Odds are, one (or more) of the five players will be playing for the 9ers next season!
        DEFINITION OF CONJECTURE: An opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of ((incomplete information)).

        Care to guess what the LONG TERM PLANS for the 9ers would be if all five starting O-Lineman fail.
        Then add the ramifications if the SS and one or more of the CB’s also fail? Lets start with JG being traded, or cut, and Lance spending the season on IR…..My guess would be your wish would come true…This would be the last season for KS and JL. And yea, that’s conjecture too….

    3. I think the 49ers plan to continue to turn over the roster to stay on top of the salary cap and talent.

  4. I’m interested in learning what TE options there are–serious options–behind Kittle. As much as he’s brought to the 9ers, injuries continue to chase him. Like Langoliers, they’ll eventually get him.

  5. Greenlaw should be re-signed. He’s not expensive and they need him because one of Greenlaw and Al Shaair is always hurt.

  6. In my opinion, when both are healthy and playing their best, Greenlaw is a much better LBer than Al-Shaair. Greenlaw sees the field much better, is earlier on his reads, gets to the ball faster, and is better in coverage. I really don’t think it’s close. If he can stay healthy, then he needs to be resigned.

  7. im hoping big mike mcglinchey comes out this year and gives the 49ers a massive headache by playing the season of his life. Recover well mike mcwall and lets see some of this passion come through this year and prove all the doubters wrong! you got this mike!

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