Retaining almost every player this offseason will not be possible for the San Francisco 49ers like it was last year.
The salary cap is once again looking scarce for the 49ers along with an increase of key players hitting free agency compared to last year.
When Joe Staley retired last offseason, the 49ers had to add another need to their list. Fortunately for them, they were able to work a deal with Washington to acquire stud left tackle Trent Williams. It was a solid move by the 49ers in a contending year. Williams proved worth the draft capital given up as he had a high-level season. In fact, he was one of the best players the 49ers had on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, Williams likely has priced himself out.
The fact that the 49ers failed to lock him into a deal prior to the season ending gives a hint to that. Williams stated at his exit presser that the 49ers are the favorites to land him, but also mentioned how he wants to see his worth on the open market. Given the lucrative deal the Packers just sealed with David Bakhtiari, Williams is poised to be in for an enormous payday. Williams will be 33-years old at the start of the 2021 season. A high payout on what could be his final deal just might be what he is looking for, which is something the 49ers probably can't oblige.
What a comeback season that cornerback Jason Verrett had in 2020. The guy has been the poster child of elite injury prone players for the last four years. He finally breaks his streak of significant injuries this season and has himself a top-five cornerback year. Verrett is a stud corner who isn't afraid to tackle. He can play both coverages well, but is more valuable in man-to-man coverage. Having that as his strong suit will earn him quite a few bucks in free agency.
And that just might be too much for the 49ers to shell out. If they have any hope of landing Trent Williams, then Verrett will have to be the sacrificial lamb. Left tackle is just more valuable than a cornerback. Plus, the 49ers will have Nick Bosa back to help the pass rush become lethal again, so the secondary will catch some breaks. The market is just going to be way too competitive for Verrett, especially with Robert Saleh likely to come calling his name to the Jets.
Kerry Hyder Jr.
Edge rush was non-existent for the 49ers outside of Kerry Hyder Jr. He had himself a career year with 8.5 sacks and 31 pressures per Pro Football Reference. Adequate pass rushers are invaluable. Hyder's name is surely going to be circled by a handful of teams come free agency. That is only going to boost his number, which the 49ers will be reluctant to pay.
It is not like they can attempt to re-sign Hyder anyways because they already have a lot of money tied up with edge rusher in Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. The 49ers still need another player to aid this area, but Hyder is not that player at his price. He deserves his payday, so there is no way he returns to the 49ers. Unless somehow someway, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek convinces him. I wouldn't hold my breath.
He is a slot cornerback by position, but in reality he is an all-around defender. K'Waun Williams is one of the most versatile defenders in the league. He can cover his receiver staunchly, can come up in run support like a linebacker, forces turnovers, and is an effective blitzer. Williams is a defensive coordinator's dream, which I am sure DeMeco Ryans has his fingers crossed that he will return.
I just don't think it is a good possibility. I would not totally rule out Williams returning because he had an injury filled season that will damper his value on the open market. That is, unless, Robert Saleh taps his shoulder and offers him his worth regardless of injury concerns. Williams is a pivotal impact player in Saleh's defense, so I am sure he is atop his priority list of players to get in free agency. I also wouldn't rule out the Browns who have former 49ers secondary coach Joe Woods as defensive coordinator. It is possible he returns, but Williams might be able to get a sweet cash out.