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49ers 2020 Free Agency Outlook

For the San Francisco 49ers, this will be the first step towards making a reappearance in the Super Bowl.

NFL free agency is just around the corner with all eyes on the potential movement of the stars in the league. For the San Francisco 49ers, this will be the first step towards making a reappearance in the Super Bowl. 

Considering the success of the team last season, there isn't too much they need to improve. Nevertheless, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch still must figure out how to maintain their success from 2019 into 2020. That all starts on March 16th when the official tampering period of free agency begins.

2019 Record

The 49ers took the league by storm in 2019 by absolutely dominating almost every opponent that lined up across them. It truly was a thing of beauty to watch how complete this team looked for most of the season. With an elite defense and dynamic offense, the 49ers finished first in the NFC west with a 13-3 record. 

San Francisco would also clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff race and would advance as far as to Super Bowl LIV to face the Kansas City Chiefs. It was practically a cake walk for them in the playoffs to get there. It even looked that way for a while in the second half of the Super Bowl when the 49ers were just seven minutes away from being crowned champions. 

Unfortunately, the team took a punch to the gut by the Chiefs and put on a full collapse to lose the Super Bowl. Now the 49ers will face a long and challenging offseason of how to maintain their success for the upcoming season.

2020 Unrestricted Free Agents

  • DE Arik Armstead
  • WR Emmanuel Sanders
  • S Jimmie Ward
  • CB Jason Verrett
  • OT Shon Coleman
  • C Ben Garland
  • DE Damontre Moore
  • TE Levine Toilolo
  • WR Jordan Matthews
  • CB Dontae Johnson

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  • DT Sheldon Day
  • DE Anthony Zettel
  • DE Ronald Blair

2020 Restricted Free Agents

  • RB Matt Breida
  • LB Elijah Lee
  • WR Kendrick Bourne

Salary-Cap Space

Heading into free agency next week, the 49ers have about $12.7 million in salary-cap space per OverTheCap. That ranks them as the fourth-lowest team in the NFL with cap space availability. It's pretty safe to say that the Niners will not be major players in free agency. 

However, there are a couple of ways they can gain some cap space. The 49ers can cut running back Jerick McKinnon and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, which would save the team a total of $8.2 million in cap space. Considering all the contracts the 49ers are trying to sign their own players to, this is a move that needs to swing into action. 

Free Agent Game Plan

With limited salary-cap space, the 49ers will lose more players than they will gain in free agency. Their top priority is to re-sign Arik Armstead. Both sides have been outspoken about mutual interest for a return. Armstead even went as far as to say “he wouldn’t mind” being franchise tagged. That’s not something you typically hear from a star player. 

A deal between the two sides could come to fruition, which would mean that Emmanuel Sanders and Jimmie Ward would not be back in 2020. Keeping the core of the defensive front is much more critical than retaining those two. 

However, the 49ers will be left with some holes after those two and many other free agents leave the team. The top position that will need addressing is wide receiver for the third-consecutive offseason. Cornerback and interior offensive line will also garner some attention.

Five Free Agent Targets

S Tavon Wilson - Versatility is a staple on both sides of the ball for the 49ers. That is why Tavon Wilson of the Detroit Lions would make a lot of sense as a potential replacement for Ward. Though he excels more-so as a box safety, Wilson is still very well capable of playing up-top. Having a versatile safety alongside Tartt is key for Saleh's defense. That way he can throw in a bunch of curveballs against offenses.  

S Damarious Randall - Randall is still a talented safety who likely just needs to be around the right set of players. What better way to perform up to his talent than to play for a Super Bowl contender like the 49ers. Best part of all is that he is versatile. That is what makes finding a potential replacement for Ward difficult. Though he isn't the same hard-hitting safety as Ward, Randall would be a sweet consolation prize in free agency.  

WR Breshad Perriman - Perriman is still young and has shown that he has cleaned up his performance. If there ends up being multiple teams showing interest, then the 49ers could be out of the sweepstakes. However, if they have to up the cost a bit, then he would be worth it. He would give the Niners a big body at receiver. A reliable red-zone target would benefit this offense immensely, especially one that has the speed that he does. 

CB Ronald Darby - Signing Darby would be such a typical move by the 49ers and is the likeliest of the three players they could target. With Darby, I envision a scenario where he is the median of Sherman and Verrett. One player maximized his value, while the other was completely shot. Darby could be in the middle of a solid role player. Remember, he would not be signed to be a starting cornerback. It is more so for depth in case someone is injured and rotational value.

CB Aaron Colvin - He would be a low-cost signing with a potential to be a high-reward for the Niners. This is the type of corner the 49ers have sought out every offseason. A player that needs a change of scenery to get their career back on track. Last season it was Jason Verrett, and before that it was Richard Sherman. Could Aaron Colvin be another player added to the list?