49ers

Lynch outpaces five years of Baalke's early 49ers free-agent signings

Lynch outpaces five years of Baalke's early 49ers free-agent signings

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:

2012
CB Perrish Cox
RB Rock Cartwright

2013
DL Glenn Dorsey
LB Dan Skuta
DB Craig Dahl

2014
S Antoine Bethea
CB Chris Cook

2015
WR Torrey Smith
CB Shareece Wright
OL Erik Pears

2016
QB Thad Lewis

Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers

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USATI

Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers

The 49ers appear to have plenty of depth along their front seven, but the team brought in three defensive linemen for workouts on Tuesday, according to a source.

One of those players is reportedly Tyson Jackson, the No. 3 overall pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. The identities of the other two players were not immediately known.

Jackson has been without a team since the Falcons released him in March with two years and $8.5 million remaining on his contract. His workout with the 49ers was reported by the NFL Network. He also worked out recently with the Los Angeles Rams.

Jackson, 31, spent his first five season in Kansas City before playing three years with the Falcons. He appeared in all 16 games last season, starting seven times, and recorded 13 tackles and no sacks.

The 49ers have an abundance of defensive linemen, or players capable of rushing the passer from a position along the defensive line, such as DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Earl Mitchell, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch, Chris Jones, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Ronald Blair and D.J. Jones.

Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers

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USATI

Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers

At the midway point of the 49ers’ exhibition season, there continues to be a lot of competition and more than a handful of veterans who have yet to lock down roster spots.

“I can tell you, it’s going to be real tough to cut it down to 53,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said last week. “We’re going to need all this game and practices to evaluate that.”

Here are the 49ers’ returning veteran players whose roster spots appear to be the most vulnerable with two weeks of practices and two exhibition games remaining to prove themselves:

OLB Ahmad Brooks
Brooks’ $4.45 million base salary is not much of a concern, considering the team is still $65.2 million under the salary cap. The number that factors into this decision the most is 33. That’s Brooks’ age.

If he is not clearly better than 23-year-old Eli Harold at the SAM linebacker position, the 49ers might want to keep the younger player to develop. Brooks is not talked about for his locker-room presence, so this decision will be made solely for what he does on the field and what he is expected to give the team in the future.

“You want to know who’s got the most upside and things like that,” Shanahan said. “Who’s going to be better throughout the year, if given the opportunity. But you also want to know who when it’s all said and done who’s going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things that I look at personally. You don’t always want to think who’s the best guy for Week 1. Who’s the best guy for the 2017 49ers?”

OG Zane Beadles
Beadles is currently working with the first-team offense, but his spot on the roster remains vulnerable. The 49ers’ decision-makers do not seem impressed with their offensive guards. The 49ers could look to pick up a guard from another team before the start of the season.

The jury is still out on Joshua Garnett, who had a good start to camp. But his play dropped off in Week 2 – perhaps because of the knee injury that required a procedure to clean up cartilage. Garnett may not be available for the start of the regular season.

Also, the 49ers may want to hold onto undrafted rookie lineman Erik Magnuson, who has a bigger upside than Beadles with youth, size and ability to play guard and center.

NT Quinton Dial
Earl Mitchell appears locked-in as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle. The 49ers also seem to have high hopes for rookie D.J. Jones. It’s unclear where that leaves Dial, who does not appear to be a great fit for the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme.

Dial should be a starter in the NFL. But he is better-suited to be positioned in a 3-4 scheme, using his strength and power as a two-gap player rather than adapt to a one-gap scheme in which quickness and agility are the main requirements.

DE Aaron Lynch
Before sustaining an ankle injury, Lynch had done everything the 49ers wanted of him – including reporting to camp at the weight that was ordered. Lynch also looked very good in the 49ers’ exhibition opener, recording two sacks against Kansas City.

But Lynch’s spot is not guaranteed, by any means. Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil, Ronald Blair and rookie Pita Taumoepenu all can play similar roles. If Lynch does not eat well or maintain his conditioning while rehabbing from his ankle injury, he could erase all of the positive steps he took at the beginning of camp.

TE Vance McDonald
The onus was on McDonald at the beginning of camp to win his way onto the team. His solid play has increased his odds of a roster spot, but it is not a sure thing. This is a position where all the incumbents – McDonald, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell -- face stiff challenges.

George Kittle will definitely be on the team. Blocking specialist Logan Paulsen and rookie Cole Hikutini are also in the mix. Hikutini does not appear ready to be a contributor this season. If they waive him with hopes of placing him on the practice squad, it seems unlikely another team would claim him for their 53-man roster. But is that a chance the 49ers are willing to take?

DE Tank Carradine
Carradine appears to be on solid footing at the 49ers’ big-end position, considering he remains on the first-team defense despite the addition of Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall selection. But it seems to be only a matter of time before Thomas takes on a greater role. Carradine could still be kept around as a backup.

Ronald Blair, a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, was buried on the depth chart at the beginning of camp. And a pulled groin muscle that has kept him out of action for more than a week does not help is cause, either.