49ers use free agency to find five players for key roles

49ers use free agency to find five players for key roles

Shortly after the beginning of the NFL’s new league year at 1 p.m. on Thursday, the 49ers are expected to finalize contract with five free agents with whom they reached agreements during the open-negotiating period.

New coach Kyle Shanahan is looking to re-tool the offense, and that’s what was accomplished with the influx of new faces.

Here’s a look at how each of the new players fits in with the 49ers:

QB Brian Hoyer (Chicago)
Hoyer, 31, was the most logical of the 49ers’ quarterback targets based on his recent starting experience and his history with Shanahan during their season together with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

He was the 49ers’ top target on the free-agent market, and the 49ers got him.

Nobody envisions Hoyer as a franchise quarterback, but he’s a good fit for the 49ers at this time. He averaged 329.5 yards passing in his four full games last season with the Bears. The 49ers, meanwhile, averaged an NFL-worst 181.9 yards per game.

The addition of Hoyer does not preclude the 49ers from using the No. 2 overall pick on a quarterback. And it does not close the door on the possibility of acquiring Kirk Cousins at some point down the road.

The 49ers can be expected to add another veteran quarterback before the draft, but it remains the long shot of long shots that Colin Kaepernick will end up back with the team.

WR Pierre Garçon (Washington)
Garçon, who turns 31 early in training camp, is coming off the second 1,000-yard season of his nine-year career. While he is likely to be the 49ers’ No. 1 receiver this season, this move was made with an eye to the future, too.

Garçon had his best NFL season in 2013, when Shanahan was calling the shots as Washington’s offensive coordinator. Known as a good pro, Garçon can help show the way to the young receivers the 49ers are bound to add during the offseason.

While there might have been more splashy free-agent receivers on the market, the 49ers wanted to add someone who fits into the big picture. That’s what they believe they are getting with Garçon.

The 49ers released Torrey Smith on Monday. Garçon is a more versatile receiver with an ability to run all the routes in Shanahan’s offense.

WR Marquise Goodwin (Buffalo)
Goodwin, 26, gives the 49ers’ offense an injection of speed, as he joins a receiving corps that includes Garçon, Jeremy Kerley and Bruce Ellington.

He had his best season with the Bills in 2016, catching 29 passes for 431 yards and three touchdowns, but there could be more for him in Shanahan’s offense.

Goodwin (5 foot 9, 179 pounds) is likely to fill a similar role that Taylor Gabriel held with the Atlanta Falcons last season. Gabriel (5-8, 165) caught 35 passes for 579 yards and six touchdowns.

The addition of Goodwin would appear to rule out the return of Quinton Patton, who started all 14 games in which he appeared last season. Patton is an unrestricted free agent after catching 37 passes for 408 yards and no TDs last year.

Goodwin qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in the long jump, placing 10th overall.

FB Kyle Juszczyk (Baltimore)
Shanahan loves to play the matchup game, and he now has a great chess piece with Juszczyk, who earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season.

His contract is expected to be $21 million over four years with $10.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan.

Juszczyk, who turns 26 next month, can play fullback, tight end, H-back and wide receiver. In four seasons, he has not missed a game. He has carried the ball just seven times. He is a good blocker, and he can catch the ball. Juszczyk has 78 receptions for 587 yards and four touchdowns over the past two seasons.

The 49ers placed a priority on signing him over Patrick DiMarco, who played the past two seasons for Shanahan with the Falcons. Juszczyk graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics, so his ability to pick up the playbook is the least of the 49ers’ concerns.

LB Malcolm Smith (Oakland)
As the 49ers transition to the Seattle-style of defense, Smith is someone who comes in with a good handle on what new coordinator Robert Saleh is looking to install.

Smith will come to the 49ers on a five-year, $26.5 million deal with $13 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.

Saleh was the Seahawks’ defensive quality control coach during the first three seasons of Smith’s career in Seattle. Smith, who turns 28 in July, is best-suited to play alongside NaVorro Bowman at the weakside linebacker position in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme.

The 49ers had an alarming lack of depth at linebacker last season. Smith joins a group that includes Bowman, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Carl Bradford and Shayne Skov. The 49ers are also likely to add at this position in the draft.

TE Logan Paulsen (Chicago)
Paulsen’s first four NFL seasons were with Shanahan in Washington. He started 30 games in those four seasons. He had his two-highest reception totals in 2012 and ’13 with 25 catches for 308 yards and 28 receptions for 308 yards. Paulsen's agreement on contrat terms was first reported by CSN Bay Area's Fallon Smith.

After five seasons in Washington, Paulsen moved on to Chicago, where he was used primarily as a blocker. He caught just three passes in 16 games, including 10 starts. Paulsen, 30, will compete for playing time with Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Blake Bell and Je'Ron Hamm.

Agent: 49ers to re-sign running back DuJuan Harris

Agent: 49ers to re-sign running back DuJuan Harris

PHOENIX – Free-agent running back DuJuan Harris will re-sign with the 49ers, his agent said.

Harris, 28, appeared in 10 games for the 49ers last season with one start. He rushed for 138 yards on 38 attempts. He also caught eight passes for 115 yards.

Harris has also seen time with Jacksonville, Green Bay and Seattle in his four-year NFL career.

The 49ers did not tender Harris as a restricted free agent, but agent Andy Simms revealed his client will re-sign with the 49ers via Twitter. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley and defensive lineman Chris Jones are the only other free agents the 49ers have re-signed.

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

Bruce Allen: Kirk Cousins will play for Washington in 2017

PHOENIX – Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins will continue to be Washington’s quarterback for the 2017 season, according to team president Bruce Allen.

“That’s why we franchised him, yes,” Allen said during an interview with CSN Mid-Atlantic at the NFL owners meetings.

Cousins and Washington did not reach agreement on a multi-year contract extension before the start of the free-agent signing period. Washington tagged Cousins as the organization’s exclusive franchise player, taking him off the free-agent market for any interested clubs, such as the 49ers.

Cousins is set to earn $23.94 million in 2017, unless the sides agree to a new deal before the July 15 deadline. The price for Cousins to be franchised again in 2018 would be $34.47 million.

"We’ve had a lot of dialogue," Allen said. "He signed his tender. Obviously, we have an option for the ’18 season. Our goal from the beginning has been long term. I'm still hopeful and confident we'll do it."

The 49ers with new coach Kyle Shanahan are expected to be interested in Cousins, but there have no trade talks with any teams, Allen said. Shanahan was Washington's offensive coordinator under his father, then-head coach Mike Shanahan, for Cousins' first two NFL seasons.

"I can't keep up with the rumors," Allen said. "Kirk and I have talked almost a dozen times this offseason, and we get to laugh when we hear these different rumors. We haven't talked to anyone."