Free-agent additions: F
Letting Emmanuel Sanders walk was the best option for the 49ers. Especially given the strength of this draft’s crop of wide receivers. Furthermore, he should recoup a fifth-round compensatory pick next year.
The 49ers were much busier on the trade market than in free agency this offseason and I’ll dive into all that movement on the next slide.
But as for the new names added through free agency, San Francisco will be in dire straights if they are relying on them to make starting-caliber contributions.
Wide receiver Travis Benjamin is probably the biggest name of the unheralded group. A speedy deep-threat in the mold of Marquise Goodwin seems to have an uphill battle to make the roster if most wideouts are healthy.
While he does seem to have a relatively unique skillset among the group, it’s hard to see him beating out one of the younger receivers on the roster.
Tom Compton probably has the best shot at seeing substantial playing time since his biggest competition for the starting guard spot will be Daniel Brunskill, primarily an offensive tackle last year.
But given the impressive young depth along the offensive line (more on that later), it wouldn’t be a shock for him to be a final cut or trade as well.
Linebacker Joe Walker started 11 games last season for the Cardinals, but is probably currently fourth on the depth chart behind Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, and Kwon Alexander, limiting him to special teams barring injury.
Defensive lineman Kerry Hyder is the most likely to make the roster and play in the team’s rotation, but he doesn’t seem to have a track record that suggests fans should expect much production.
The big “signings” of this period were 49ers that won’t be changing uniforms (at least for now).
Arik Armstead highlights a group, which includes fellow defensive starter Jimmie Ward. The team also retained key depth pieces on both sides of the ball like Ronald Blair, Shon Coleman, and Jason Verrett.
By retaining Armstead and Ward, the 49ers are betting on players who have shown strong play, but both have extensive medical histories.
Armstead though, receiving a five-year, $85 million contract has played in every 49ers game over the past two seasons and clearly, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan believe he’ll be able to maintain the jump he had in production last season even without DeForest Buckner beside him inside.
From a salary cap and asset perspective, they made the right move, but Armstead has to continue performing close to his 2019 levels to justify the contract. Only time will tell.