49ers’ Turn To Draft As Free Agent Market Dries Up

Carlos Avila Gonazles, The Chronicle

Carlos Avila Gonazles, The Chronicle

As expected the San Francisco 49ers weren’t big players in free-agency. Instead 49ers GM Trent Baalke and Team President Paraag Marathe made calculated decisions using analytics. And while some Forever Faithful were upset, I believe it was the smart thing to do.

The 49ers had at the time roughly $17 million in cap space yet they chose not to pony up big money contracts to CB Chris Culliver or CB Perrish Cox. Culliver signed a four-year, $32 million contract with Washington while Cox agreed to a three-year deal with Tennessee. In all honesty, Culliver was vastly overpaid. An average salary of $8 million per season for a cornerback whose large success was a product of the system–no wonder the 49ers passed up on the South Carolina product.



Cox on the other hand had less leverage, yet he came out a winner as he worked a deal which included an average salary of $5 million per season.

So where do the 49ers go from here? Free-agency is pretty much dried up and the draft is right around the corner making that our primary focus.

The 49ers currently hold the 15th pick in the first-round yet they could move up or down depending on what other teams before them do. If the 49ers stay put at No. 15, I fully expect them to target a wide-receiver. A scenario I explained in an earlier article, I gave three reasons why a receiver makes the most sense.

However, what will happen beyond the first-round? In a weak cornerback draft class, I can’t see them drafting one in the second-round especially since the team signed free-agent CB Shareece Wright and CB Chris Cook. Defensive line however is a different story.



The 49ers already have five defensive lineman who are all but assured roster spots with DE Tank Carradine, DE Quinton Dial, DE Darnell Dockett, NT Glenn Dorsey and NT Ian Williams but the need is there.

Dockett’s age, 34, with Williams scheduled to become an unrestricted free-agent after the season makes defensive line a pressing need and three players could help with the addition of DE Preston Smith, NT Jordan Phillips or NT Carl Davis.

All would fit what Baalke covets. An elongated wingspan with the frame to bulk up, these three prospects would be ideal for head coach Jim Tomsula. They can all hold their own at the point of attack while freeing up linebackers but it’s their lack of pass-rush that has scouts worried.


However, that can be taught as the 49ers have one of the best defensive line coaches in the game in HC Jim Tomsula. Just watch the highlights above and you can see where the potential lies.

Tomsula is known to get the most out of his players and it has been well documented that the players absolutely love him, so adding a rookie to the mix may not be such a bad idea.

With the 49ers likely to be movers on draft day don’t rule them out selecting a defensive lineman in the early rounds, as Baalke will likely select one sooner rather than later as he stays one step ahead in fielding the best roster possible.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of NinerFans.com, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at ryan@NinerFans.com or call him at (408) 622-0996.