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What big ticket names should the 49ers tap out on early?
As the 2018 season mercifully comes to a close, it’s time to turn our tired eyes away from the Super Bowl and look to the upcoming offseason. Depending what the 49ers do with some impending free agents, the team will head into the offseason with over $60 million in cap space. It’s easy to look at that number and yell “SIGN THEM ALL!!” but one thing we’ve learned from this front office is that they believe in being “aggressively prudent” when it comes to free agency. While the team has been willing to overpay for players that they view as vital to the system, they still seem to approach the free agency period with a reserved sense of exuberance. We’ll look at some names that may jump off the page at you, but might be better left off the 2019 salary cap; for the sake of the article we’ll be imagining that no one is re-signed by their current team and everyone hits free agency.
Bell is a dynamic running and possibly the best-suited running back to excel in Shanahan’s offense: he combines a patient yet aggressive running style with wide receiver ability out of the backfield. Todd Gurley just completed the first year of a four-year, $57,500,000 contract with the Rams, and Bell has said on numerous occasions that his goal is to reset the running back market, even going so far as to say that he should be paid like a top tier quarterback. Reports out of Pittsburgh say that Bell turned down a five-year, $60,000,000 contract offer, then turned down a follow up five-year, $70,000,000 offer from the Steelers. While it’s fun to think about Bell in a 49ers uniform, Kyle Shanahan and Bobby Turner have done more with less at the running back position then any two coaches in the league combined. With Jerick McKinnon coming back from injury, Matt Breida’s emergence, and even some quality play from Jeff Wilson, the 49ers don’t need to spend big money on a running back.
Rumor has it that Tate turned down overtures from the 49ers when he initially hit free agency in 2013, at that time he was a player that would have brought a championship mentality to a struggling team and injected a young wide receiver core with some much needed talent. Now he’s on his age-31 year looking for one more payday. According to Spotrac.com, Tate’s market value is three years, at approximately $30,600,000. That’s substantially more than what the 49ers should be willing to pay for a decent number two receiver. Rookies Dante Pettis and Richie James showed flashes last year, second-year receivers Kendrick Bourne and Trent Taylor are still productive, and the franchise hopes Marquise Goodwin is able to get back to being the receiver he was with Jimmy Garoppolo at the end of 2017. I fully expect the team to select a receiver in the 2019 draft, so there’s no reason to overpay for one in free agency.
Dude’s a scumbag.
The former number one pick is an athletic freak; he’s big, he’s fast, and he’s strong. But for some reason the edge defender hasn’t been able to put those gifts together to become the dominant force Houston was hoping he’d be when they selected him out of South Carolina. In five seasons Clowney has never posted a double-digit sack season and has constantly battled injuries, playing 16 games only once in his career. While Clowney could immediately solve the 49ers pass rush problems, if Houston allows him to hit the market he could command a contract similar to what Von Miller signed with Denver: six-years, $110,000,000 or more.
Detroit used the number five pick on Ansah in the 2013 draft hoping they found a dominate edge rusher. Instead, what they found was a player prone to injuries who can wreak havoc the rare times he’s healthy. Ansah has posted two double-digit sacks seasons in his career with 14½ in 2015 and 7½ in 2017. The 2015 season was also the last time Ansah played all 16 games, and following a solid 2017 Detroit placed the franchise tag on Ansah in the hopes of signing him to a long term deal. No deal was reached and he played the 2018 season under the tag, and like the two seasons before, he was injured. Ansah played in only seven games before being placed on IR with a shoulder injury. The injury may benefit teams hoping to sign him, but Ansah will likely expect a salary in the four-year, $50,000,000 range. For a 29-yearold defensive end that can’t stay healthy, that price tag is to rich for my blood, and hopefully also for John Lynch and rest of the front office.
I think the 49ers brass will open the checkbook this season and show the type of aggressiveness the fanbase has been hoping for. There are players out there that can help the 49ers make a playoff push in 2019, but the team would do well to keep their wallets in their pockets when it comes to the above players.
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