The San Francisco 49ers are looking to get everything sorted out before year three of their rebuild. The team is coming off of a 4-12 record after so much turmoil during 2018.
From their star quarterback and starting running back being injured for the year, to a young building block in Reuben Foster being cut because of his off-the-field issues; it’s been a particularly underwhelming one for head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.
The franchise is in desperate need of getting it right in 2019. The 49ers have a lot of the right pieces in guys like tight end George Kittle and defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. However, they’re in need of fixing many other issues that are holding themselves back.
One of the best ways in doing this is going out and signing free agents when that period comes around. There are established players that are looking to get their payday or a change of scenery. Luckily enough, the San Francisco 49ers have both.
Here are five free agents the San Francisco 49ers should sign.
Defensive Tackle Christian Covington
The 49ers need a nose tackle badly after Earl Mitchell’s regression in 2018. The 31-year-old veteran only played one snap in the final four weeks of last season. And he saw his numbers drop to only recording 28 tackles, two for a loss, and three quarterback hits.
It’s likely that San Francisco will get rid of him before they take a $4.4 million cap hit for the 2019 season, which means that the 49ers will be looking for someone to play alongside DeForest Buckner on the inside. Insert Christian Covington into the fold.
Last season he only played 30 percent of Houston’s defensive snaps and started just two games. However, he came away with 15 tackles, four for a loss, eight quarterback hits, and 3.5 sacks in his little playing time. He’s only 25 years old as well, so the team would just be continuing their youth movement.
Safety Anthony Harris
The 49ers’ secondary is something that’s taken a massive hit in its stock recently. Not only did the suffer a significant number of injuries, but the production of this group was abysmal. They just came away with a league-record low of two interceptions in a season.
It’s what gave this unit the ranking of being the worst in the league from the regular season according to Pro Football Focus. And one of the areas that hurt them the most was the inconsistency from their safeties. The free safety that started the season was Adrian Colbert who was given a 31.7 overall grade on PFF, and none of the other options at safety had a ranking higher than 66.6.
They need assistance at this position with Jimmie Ward leaving and Colbert’s future in question, which would be a perfect time for them to look into grabbing Anthony Harris.
A somewhat lesser known defensive player, but someone that broke out when given the opportunity to start.
When Andrew Sendejo went down with an injury, Harris came in and filled in capably. He came away with 46 total tackles, six pass deflections, and three interceptions. And even more impressive is his 89.0 overall grade.
He will be 28 by next season and can provide the defense some help in an area where they need it. As much as fans would like to see Earl Thomas in red and gold, it’s always good to keep someone like Harris as an option.
Cornerback Steven Nelson
Speaking on the subject of the poor play by the secondary, something that hurt this unit was the woeful play by the cornerbacks that played opposite of Richard Sherman. Guys like Ahkello Witherspoon (44.9 grade), Greg Mabin (48.8 grade), and others found themselves getting exposed many times and being a liability.
Getting someone to play opposite of Sherman is something that needs to be at the top of the San Francisco 49ers’ agenda. With that said, they can look into a cheap option in someone like Steven Nelson who put up his best season in 2018. He came away with 15 pass deflections and four interceptions, as well as a 73.8 overall grade.
If the 49ers want the most out of their secondary, then they need to address this vital spot. It will not only lead to more takeaways (another area in which the team struggled) but will also produce more time to get to the quarterback.
Wide Receiver Adam Humphries
The Antonio Brown rumors continue to swirl, and as much as the speculation is that he will be traded to San Francisco, it’s uncertain what they will give up to get the All-Pro receiver. Not only would the team be risking giving up so much for someone as disgruntled and high-priced as Brown, but he’s also getting to 31 years of age.
They can get a cheaper option in someone like Humphries who is coming off of the best season of his career. He set career-highs in every category:
- Targets: 105
- Catches: 76
- Receiving yards: 816
- Receiving touchdowns: five
As much as people want to have a number one receiver to improve the offense, they just need consistent players. Guys like Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin are trending downward and are hurting the offensive attack.
Grabbing a player like Humphries will remedy this problem.
Defensive End Trey Flowers
The one position that needs the most improvement is pass-rusher. As impressive as DeForest Buckner was with his career-high 12 sacks, everyone else failed to match him halfway. The next closest to him was a tie between Cassius Marsh and Ronald Blair (Buckner’s backup) at 5.5.
Players like Solomon Thomas and Earl Mitchell failed to live up to any hype of draft status or contract price. The 49ers are in desperate need for an edge rusher to complete the defense.
Despite all of the many big names like DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, and Dee Ford. However, there are some other names that have been producing for a long time without any notice.
Case in point: Trey Flowers.
He has a 90.4 overall grade on PFF. Flowers has posted at least 6.5 sacks over the last three seasons. The only other players to do this are the Jaguars’ Calais Campbell, the Texans’ JJ Watt, and the Bears’ Khalil Mack.
He’s an elite-level pass-rusher and deserves to get a look from a team in need of his services.