The NFL is a business. And with this comes the point every year when executives choose whether to bring a player back after their contract is up or let them go.
The 49ers have this coming up once the playoffs end and the free agency period comes around. They currently have 21 players going to be free agents, 19 of them unrestricted. It’s time to look at each of them and decide if they should be kept or not.
Starting off with the easiest of the group, the new face of the 49ers deserves a new contract.
He’s not only proven his worth after guiding the team to five consecutive wins, but his play fits the Kyle Shanahan offense perfectly. The 49ers would be foolish to be unable to re-sign to whatever contract he wants.
The toughest decision after another reasonably successful season by the former Buckeye.
It’s the first time since earning the starting job as the number one back for the 49ers that he didn’t suffer a season-ending injury. He led the team in rushing with 938 yards and eight touchdowns. He also led the team in receptions with a team-high 59 catches.
However, it’s yet another year in which Hyde failed to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. He also averaged less than four yards per carry and led the team in drops with six. There were even games in which he was outdone by undrafted rookie, Matt Breida, who will continue to be a significant contributor to the offense for quite some time.
Despite the obvious talent by Hyde, it’s the end of his era in San Francisco.
The 49ers need help with the wide receiver position. However, Murphy will likely not be in that plan.
There are plenty of talented receivers going into free agency this year. Guys like Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, and Sammy Watkins would be great number one targets for Garoppolo moving forward.
If the 49ers make any of the mentioned moves, then Murphy would be out of the picture with the established players of Garçon, Goodwin, and Taylor.
A Shanahan player since their time in our Nation’s Capitol as well as a phenomenal blocker at tight end. He would be a welcome third tight end.
It’s likely that the team keeps him because of the familiarity.
The 49ers need the depth for the right side of the offensive line. Gilliam showed strong play when asked to fill in for Trent Brown when the starting right tackle was injured.
He also brings versatility when he’s asked to play guard.
The 49ers could very well bring Fusco back on for depth for on interior offensive line. However, his play, as well as the play from of the other interior linemen, was woeful.
There’s enough talent in the draft to fix these issues, and it’s likely that only one of the interior linemen that will be named stay around for 2018.
If any of the offensive linemen should be brought back, it should be Kilgore. The 30-year-old has been with the team all throughout his career, and the team needs more mainstays like him around.
He brings veteran leadership and can help mentor any of the other inside linemen.
The likeliest one out of the offensive linemen and the one with the least experience.
A late addition to the team that produced two sacks in the six games that he played in. However, this was a product of the unfortunate injuries to many of the players that were put on injured reserve throughout the season for the 49ers.
It’s unlikely that the team brings back the journeyman defender after the team continues to bolster the pass rushers.
He looked to have found his place with the new defense until his injury that put him on the shelf for awhile. It’s not the first time in his career either, as his injury concerns continue to be something that gets in the way of his production.
It’s time for the former Seminole to find a new home.
After a promising start to his career, Lynch is likely on his way out. He needs a place where he will be the premier pass rusher, and it’s not in San Francisco.
It’s become too crowded for him with Dumervil and Armstead taking a majority of the snaps and with his injury concerns.
Put in some good play in replacing some of the injured pass rushers. He will likely be the one defensive end that will be brought back because of his play in place of the injured Solomon Thomas.
The 49ers need depth on the inside of the defensive line. They will get this with Jones if the coaches feel DeForest Buckner is being left in the game for too long.
The veteran did a good job when asked to step in whenever Reuben Foster was out and after NaVorro Bowman’s release. It was a revolving door for awhile at the inside linebacker position.
However, this won’t necessarily mean that he will be brought back. The linebacker positions need some fixing, and he could come back for depth, but don’t be surprised if they go after somebody else to help with this.
A training camp addition that stuck with the team for some time as a special teamer. The issues at cornerback won’t be solved by keeping him. Plus there are many options that will help with the outside cornerback spots along with Ahkello Witherspoon.
He had a mixture of high points and low points. He was regularly picked on by opposing quarterbacks and beaten on numerous plays.
He did have a nice stretch late in the season, but the cornerback market is too good to hold onto Johnson.
The clock is running out on Hall’s career. It’s gone underappreciated, and it will likely come to an end with him not receiving any individual honors or severe playoff success.
He won’t be brought back as the team moves to a younger route at secondary.
The likeliest player to be given the franchise tag. He’s gone through multiple transitions this season. He’s been moved from free safety to strong safety to linebacker all in one year.
He adjusted well to his new roles whenever asked to change and tied as the team leader in interceptions with two. He’s still one of the team’s top tacklers and defensive playmakers since being drafted.
Despite his long injury history since being a first-round pick by the team in 2013, he should stay with the team as a veteran defensive leader. The team needs it as NaVorro Bowman was let go during last season.
He was brought in to help when the free safety position was decimated by injuries. Guys like Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, and Adrian Colbert all went down at one point or another with a severe injury.
He won’t stay with the talent already at the position and with the understanding that all of them will find a new role on the defense.
Mark Nzeocha (RFA)
Just a special teams player that was brought in when the injuries were too much.
Raheem Mostert (Exclusive Rights FA)
He provides versatility as a receiver and a return man. However, his running ability leaves a lot to be desired still.