Evaluating 49ers' first wave of UFA signings under Lynch, Shanahan

March 11, 2017

The 49ers’ new regime of John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan signed 12 players in the first two days of 2017 free agency. And with the pace they’re at, that number could change by the time I hit publish.  

 

Here are some quick hits from the activity:

 

Top signing: Pierre Garcon

Garcon has physical traits that would make it seem as if he can remain a quality receiver in the NFL for another 3-5 years, potentially.

 

The deal also turned out to be a good one. Initial reports were that the 49ers might have overpaid, but it seems as if the team received decent value. He should start, either as a WR1 or WR2, depending on the draft and training camp, but this doesn’t seem as much as a building block signing as it does a high-quality bridge/mentor WR.

 

Best signing: Kyle Juszczyk

The 49ers’ backfield hasn't been this complete and dynamic in a while. More than a blocker, Juszczyk is going to bring a spark to the offense, moving the chains as a short-yardage back, outlet and check-down option. To me, this is a player that is low-key going to sustain drives and help the 49ers in the red zone – and it’ll be great to have a player like this underneath with the added weaponry at wide receiver.

 

Underrated signing: Robbie Gould

Gould has been one of the NFL’s better placekickers for the last decade, continuing a strong trend for the 49ers, who went from Joe Nedney to David Akers, to Phil Dawson, and now the Bears all-time scoring leader. While many wanted Dawson back, and despite his continued production, at 42 years old, the team had to move on eventually, and now was as good a time as any.

 

Gould signed with the Giants in 2016 and didn’t miss once, going 10 for 10 with a long of 47. He had a career-best 33 field goals made the year prior, his last in Chicago. Shanahan and Lynch prioritizing a dependable, top leg in the league is exactly what Jim Harbaugh did in his first year, and his attention to the position paid off.

 

Initial takeaway: Addition by subtraction

 

The 49ers cutting the dead weight that had been unnecessarily lingering on the roster was as equally effective, if not more than the additions, because of the short- and long-term implications. The release of the below average to middle-of-the-road players—or players that simply didn’t fit or live up to expectations—helps clears the roster for upgrades. It enables the organization to raise the bar personnel-wise.

 

Missed opportunity: Brandin Cooks

 

I was an advocate of the 49ers being aggressive when it came to acquiring Brandin Cooks from the Saints.

 

I think that was the wide receiver to pay vs. Pierre Garcon.

 

It appears there is no clear player San Francisco should select at No. 2 overall. That, combined with the team’s plethora of needs, and it would seem as if the team could stand to trade back. The pressure on New Orleans, which possess the No. 11 pick, appeared to be an ideal opportunity. The 49ers could’ve theoretically moved back, gotten a 23-year-old franchise player, settled a need, and still nabbed a player like Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen, Jamal Adams, Mike Williams or Corey Davis.

 

 

Hero image courtesy Washington Times

Media courtesy Sports Mockery

 

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