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:

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

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Report: 49ers UFA linebacker to visit Seahawks

Gerald Hodges is in search of a new team and he's looking at a division rival of the 49ers.

The unrestricted free agent is scheduled to visit the Seahawks on Wednesday, according to ESPN.

Acquired in October of 2015 from Minnesota for a sixth-round pick, the four-year pro played in 25 games over the past two seasons with the 49ers.

In his time with San Francisco, the former fourth-round pick recorded three sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

But he was not considered a fit for the new 49ers under general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Hodges was deactivated for a game late in the season at Atlanta for breaking team rules. He did not offer an explanation or apology

The 49ers have signed three linebackers through two weeks of free agency: Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle and Dekoda Watson.

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

Donald Trump, Jim Harbaugh address Kaepernick's free agent status

On the same day the FBI director announced members of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign are under investigation for colluding with Russia to influence the election, Trump turned his thoughts to Colin Kaepernick’s status as an NFL free agent.

And Jim Harbaugh, appearing on Pro Football Talk, suggested teams that are not showing interest in Kaepernick are making a mistake.

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said Tuesday morning.

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships.”

On Monday evening, during a rally in Kentucky, Trump made remarks about Kaepernick. In the lead-up to the November election, Kaepernick called Trump “openly racist” and said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton, either.

“And you know, your San Francisco quarterback? I’m sure nobody ever heard of him,” Trump said.

“There was an article today, it was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump. Do you believe that? I just saw that. I just saw that. I said if I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky. Because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported an AFC general manager told him there were three reasons Kaepernick has not signed. Some believe, according to the anonymous source, that Kaepernick can no longer play at a high level. Others “genuinely hate him” for kneeling during the national anthem as part of his protest of racial inequality in America.

And, “some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him,” according to the report. “They think there might be protests or Trump will tweet about the team. I'd say that number is around 10 percent. Then there's another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

Kaepernick’s teammates voted him the winner of the Len Eshmont Award for courage and inspiration last season. It is historically the most prestigious award among 49ers players. But the 49ers have already signed veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley.

General manager John Lynch acknowledged last week on KNBR the odds of the 49ers bringing back Kaepernick are slim.

“I think the likelihood of that happening has gone down significantly. But we’re not going to close our mind or out options on anyone, including him,” Lynch said.

Even though there has been no reported interest in Kaepernick from any team around the league, Lynch said Kaepernick nearly signed with a team earlier during the free-agent signing period.

“I don’t know what happened to that market,” Lynch said. “He was, in everyone’s mind in this league, very close to signing a deal with a team at a really good number. And it fell through, apparently.”