The 49ers’ new regime crammed five Trent Baalke years of free agency into the first two days of the new league year.
From 2012 to ’16, the 49ers signed just 11 players in the first week of the free-agent signing periods. Under new general manager John Lynch, the 49ers last week matched the number of those signings in the first 31 hours.
Baalke, in his final year as 49ers general manager, was especially tentative. The new league year began on March 9. The next day, the 49ers signed reserve quarterback Thad Lewis to a one-year contract.
The 49ers’ most-significant free-agent addition last year came 13 days after the opening of the signing period with the acquisition of offensive lineman Zane Beadles, whom the Jacksonville Jaguars released three weeks earlier.
Lynch advised 49ers fans to "stay awake" for the opening of free agency, and he made good on his promise. What might have been lacking in star power, the 49ers made up for it in sheer volume.
The 49ers signed 11 free agents to play for new coach Kyle Shanahan:
QB Brian Hoyer
QB Matt Barkley
FB Kyle Juszczyk
WR Pierre Garçon
WR Marquise Goodwin
WR Aldrick Robinson
TE Logan Paulsen
K Robbie Gould
LB Malcolm Smith
LB Brock Coyle
DB Don Jones
With the contracts of 65 players registered by the NFL Players Association (Robinson, Coyle and Jones have yet to be processed), the 49ers still have a league-high $81.08 million in salary cap room with 65 players under contract. Tennessee has the next-highest amount with $55.3 million in cap room.
“I think we were very strategic setting out with where we felt we needed to improve our team,” Lynch said after the first wave of signings.
“While there’s a lot of numbers, we didn’t reach for anything. We found guys that fit it, if not we’ll wait. So I think while the numbers are big and we’re really happy about that, we felt like we found guys that we were excited about being here.”
The 49ers can rollover all of their unused cap space to future seasons to invest in a big-money quarterback, such as Kirk Cousins, and re-sign any players they wish to retain to multi-year contracts.
Under Baalke, the 49ers rarely acted quickly on the free-agent market. Here’s a look at the team’s signings in the first week of March free agency after the league’s collective-bargaining agreement went into affect in the summer of 2011:
CB Perrish Cox
RB Rock Cartwright
DL Glenn Dorsey
LB Dan Skuta
DB Craig Dahl
S Antoine Bethea
CB Chris Cook
WR Torrey Smith
CB Shareece Wright
OL Erik Pears
QB Thad Lewis