Five profitable free agents the 49ers should target
Salary cap space should be pretty plentiful for the 49ers in free agency.
However, just because they have the space doesn’t mean they have to splurge on players who don’t justify the value. There will always be players they can target for a cheap price.
Here are five profitable free agents the 49ers should target.
Dante Fowler Jr.
There’s nothing like having too many pass rushers. And with many quality defensive linemen who will be free agents for the 49ers, they will once again have to look for more valuable players at a lower cost. Dante Fowler Jr. may be that player. Now Fowler hasn’t been effective the past two seasons. But then again, who has it with the Falcons? It is because its stock is so low that it is attractive. I wouldn’t expect anything more than the $2-4 million range.
The last time he was solid was with the Rams in 2019, when he put up 11.5 sacks. Putting him in the hands of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek might be just what he needs to revitalize himself. Moreover, he will be accompanied by many other suitable players on the front, which will give him a look and opportunities that he did not have with the Falcons. If Fowler can find his way, he could be the key Arden 2022.
The 49ers were somewhat interested in Marlon Mack at the trade deadline last season. It was more due diligence on the part of the Niners, but you only do it if you have an interest in a player. Now that Mack is a free agent, the 49ers can easily bring him in without losing draft capital. Mack would be a solid signing for depth, as the running backs room can definitely use him.
At some point during the season, the 49ers brought in players from all over to fill the position. Literally every player has fallen at some point in the season. The 49ers need to add depth whether they bring Raheem Mostert and/or Jeff Wilson back. Mack was a 1,000-yard rusher just two seasons ago, so he’s definitely a quality player to add to the rotation. But he might not be so enthusiastic since that’s why he wanted to leave Indianapolis in the first place. Perhaps the fact that he knows he is going to make a great running attack that will surely rotate their players as well as availability issues with others that will tempt signing.
Tapping into vertical play with Trey Lance’s arm is going to be used next season. But the 49ers lack a true deep-threat wide receiver. Zay Jones is a player who could fill that role to help stretch defenses on the pitch. With the Raiders last season, Jones had 47 catches for 546 yards for a touchdown. His average target depth was 14 meters, so he excels in intermediate to deep routes.
Jones’ stats would have been better had Derek Carr hit him for the money on a few deep plays last season. Maybe he’ll have better luck with Lance throwing the ball. Jones shouldn’t cost that much. I wouldn’t expect more than $3 million, which would be worth the added element of deep threat. Jones racked up most of those numbers as the Raiders’ second-best receiver due to injuries and other unfortunate circumstances. So imagine how effective he would be behind Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. Jones made $4.5 million last year, so he might not be that cheap, but it wouldn’t hurt to raise the price a bit if it means helping Lance.
Desmond King II
K’Waun Williams and the 49ers could decide to part ways, so there will be a vacancy at Nickelback if that happens. Desmond King is a player who would make a pretty decent signing. He had a good season with the Texans last year and provides punt return ability. There is a potential high ceiling to hit with King as he was once a top cover player who can also play the run well. With the 49ers, he might be able to find that comeback.
His cost is the trickiest of all the players I list here. King signed the Texans to a one-year, $3 million deal last year, so I would expect him to want more security and a slight pay raise. So if he costs, say, two years for $7 or $8 million, then that’s a low enough cost to afford given the salary cap space the 49ers will have. But like with Zay Jones, it wouldn’t hurt to raise the salary a bit.
The cheapest player on this list is definitely formerly Seahawks tight end Will Dissly. Dissly in his first two seasons looked poised to be a reliable receiver for Russell Wilson, but injuries and a crowded reception hall saw him fall from favor. Dissly could be purchased for $2 million and would be worth the investment.
Signing him provides a contingency for when George Kittle will likely get injured next year. He’s capable as a receiver and the best part of all is that he excels as a run blocker. Plus, Kyle Shanahan might take it with Kittle for something intriguing and new. Adding a solid backup for Kittle would be wise given his injury history and Dissly would be a nice addition at his expense.