John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have major decisions looming. For the second-straight year, the 49ers front office enters the offseason with the goal of keeping their once-championship contending roster intact. That objective comes with a host of challenges. For starters, the 49ers could be working with less than anticipated as the league’s salary cap is expected to take a hit due to lost revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Equally as troubling, the 49ers entered the offseason with a whopping 38 players set to hit the open market once the NFL free agency period begins on March 17.
Here is a breakdown of free agency designations, according to NFL.com:
Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA): Any player with four or more accrued seasons and an expired contract; free to negotiate and sign with any team.
Restricted Free Agent (RFA): A player with three accrued seasons and an expired contract. RFAs are free to negotiate and sign with any team, but their original team can offer them one of various qualifying offers (“tenders”) that come with the right of first refusal and/or draft-pick compensation.
Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA): Any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If his original team offers him a one-year contract at the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams.
Follow along with all of San Francisco’s offseason moves on the 49ers Free Agency Hub.
Unrestricted Free Agents
San Francisco’s backup quarterback closed out the season for the 49ers following injuries to Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens. He played six total games and started San Francisco’s final two contests. Beathard finished his fourth season with the 49ers completing 63.5 percent of his passes, a career high, for 787 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Bergstrom was signed to San Francisco’s practice squad in late October and was elevated to the active roster for the team’s final four contests.
Blair III remained on the Physically Unable to Perform list (PUP) throughout the season after suffering setbacks in his recovery from an ACL injury sustained in Week 10 of 2019.
The former undrafted free agent appeared in 15 games in San Francisco (five starts) and was second on the team behind Brandon Aiyuk in yards (667), targets (74) and receptions (49). He led the team with 13.6 yards per catch for pass catchers with 25 or more receptions. He also added two touchdowns on the season.
In his second season with the 49ers, Coleman appeared in eight games and amassed 87 yards from scrimmage on 32 touches in a crowded backfield featuring Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Jerick McKinnon.
Compton played in seven games and made three starts at right guard. The veteran offensive lineman missed multiple games after suffering two concussions in a span of three weeks.
With Weston Richburg spending the season on PUP, Garland stepped in and played five games at center. Garland suffered a calf injury in Week 6 that kept him sidelined for the remainder of the season.
The 49ers signed Grasu in August with the team’s number of injuries at center. He played in nine games and made three starts in his lone season in San Francisco.
In his first season with the 49ers, Hyder Jr. appeared in all 16 games and finished the season with career highs in sacks (8.5), quarterback hits (18) and tackles (49). Hyder’s 8.5 sacks led all 49ers defenders.
The 49ers fullback appeared in all 16 games in his fourth season in San Francisco and registered 202 receiving yards on 19 receptions and four touchdowns and added two more scores on the ground, a career high.
After being sidelined for two-consecutive seasons due to setbacks from an ACL injury, McKinnon appeared in all 16 games for the first time since 2017. He finished the year with 319 yards rushing on 81 carries and five touchdowns to add to 253 receiving yards on 33 receptions and a score.
With the number of injuries at the cornerback position, Johnson appeared in 14 games (three starts) in 2020 and recorded 23 total tackles, two quarterback hits, a sack and three passes defended in his seventh NFL season (six with the 49ers).
In his fourth season with the 49ers, San Francisco’s nose tackle started 14 games and registered three sacks and three quarterback hits, all career highs, and also notched 20 total tackles and a pass defended.
San Francisco added depth along their defensive line at the start of training camp with the signing of the former Miami Dolphins 2013 third-overall pick. Jordan appeared in 13 games and tallied three sacks, his largest output since the 2017 season (4.0), five quarterback hits, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and a pass defended.
Reed signed a one-year deal back at the start of training camp after missing the entire 2019 season with a concussion. He went on to appear in 10 games in San Francisco and catch 26 passes for 231 yards and four scores, including his multi-touchdown performance in Week 2 against the New York Jets.
Sherman appeared in just five games in 2020 after dealing with a calf injury in the season opener that he re-aggravated in Week 15.
Tartt appeared in seven games in his sixth season in San Francisco and registered 30 total tackles (20 solo), four passes defended and an interception. His season was cut short after being placed on Injured Reserve with a season-ending turf-toe injury in Week 9.
Taylor was released from the team ahead of final roster cuts, however, re-signed with the team in Week 4 following an injury to nickel corner K’Waun Williams. In his first defensive snap with the 49ers, he recorded his first-career full sack against Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. He went on to appear in eight games (three starts) and registered 22 total tackles, two for loss, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and a sack. Taylor’s season came to a close following an ACL tear in the Week 12 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
After missing the entire 2019 campaign with a foot injury, Taylor returned in 2020 and appeared in 12 games and caught 10 passes for 86 yards to add to nine punt returns for 112 yards (12.4 yards per return, a career high).
Thomas suffered an ACL tear in Week 2, ending what was projected to be a promising season for the former first-round pick.
The 49ers decision to re-sign Verrett last offseason paid off as the corner is coming off of his most productive season since 2015. Verrett played 803 snaps in 2020, a career high, and registered 60 total tackles (50 solo), two tackles for loss, seven passes defended and two interceptions. He was recognized as PFF’s eighth-highest graded cornerback in 2020.
Walker signed with the 49ers at the start of free agency in 2019 as a former member of the Arizona Cardinals. Appearing in 12 games, Walker played 61 percent of San Francisco’s special teams snaps in 2020.
The 49ers former third-round pick appeared in 11 games and made four starts amid San Francisco’s injuries at cornerback. He finished the season with 20 total tackles, four passes defended and an interception that helped San Francisco seal their Week 16 victory over the Cardinals.
Williams appeared in eight games (four starts) at nickel corner and registered 22 total tackles, five for loss, four passes defended, a forced fumble, two sacks and two quarterback hits.
Williams returned to the top of his game in his first season with the 49ers after missing the entire 2019 campaign with the Washington Football Team. He appeared in 14 games in 2020 and earned Pro Football Focus’ top grade of any tackle in the league, aiding him to his eighth-career Pro Bowl nod.
The 49ers received Willis in a trade with the Jets in October. The former Cincinnati Bengals third-round pick appeared in seven games with San Francisco and registered 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and 13 total tackles, two for loss.