Veteran Free-agent Contracts 49ers Must Consider Before Training Camp

Joe TanseyJune 29, 2022

Veteran Free-agent Contracts 49ers Must Consider Before Training Camp

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    The San Francisco 49ers need to make sure they have the proper protection for Trey Lance going into the 2022 NFL season.

    As of now, they are riding with Jake Brendel at center to replace the recently retired Alex Mack.

    The drop-off from a seven-time Pro Bowler to Brendel could be steep. If the transition does not work out, the 49ers should have their eyes on the free-agent market.

    J.C. Tretter and Matt Paradis, two experienced interior offensive linemen, are still on the free-agent market and could be one call away if the 49ers decide an upgrade is needed ahead of Week 1.

    San Francisco should also pay some attention to a few defensive positions. There are questions about depth on the defensive line and in the secondary, and there may be a necessary addition or two to be made throughout training camp.

J.C. Tretter and Matt Paradis

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    J.C. Tretter and Matt Paradis are the two best options left on the free-agent market at center.

    Tretter most recently played for the Cleveland Browns, while Paradis was with the Carolina Panthers.

    San Francisco could still veer from its current plan of using Jake Brendel to replace Alex Mack and bring in one of the veteran centers.

    At 29, Brendel is only two years younger than Tretter and three years younger compared to Paradis, so it is not like the 49ers are running with youth over experience in the middle of the offensive line.

    Brendel is the ideal replacement right now because he knows the 49ers' run-blocking system well and sits on an affordable contract compared to what a big name would carry for even a year in the Bay Area.

    The longevity within the system could play a role in the 49ers' free-agent pursuit of a center. They may prefer to have Brendel work with Trey Lance over the next few years to form a bond that leads to success over a one-year fill-in.

    If that is the case, the 49ers should look to defensive free agents over a center, but it is always worth keeping close attention on the center market in case Brendel can't handle the positional workload or the injury bug bites.

Sheldon Richardson

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    The 49ers need an insurance policy for Javon Kinlaw in case he gets injured again.

    The 24-year-old played 16 games in his first two NFL seasons and was only on the field for four contests in 2021.

    Sheldon Richardson played in either 16 or 17 games in each of the last four seasons for the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings. He would ease any concerns about durability on the defensive interior and could be an asset on the pass rush alongside Nick Bosa.

    The 31-year-old produced 13 quarterback hits, six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks last season with the Vikings. He reached double figures in quarterback hits in three of his last four seasons.

    Richardson may be a bit more expensive than other remaining free agents, but the numbers show he has been consistently effective in rushing the quarterback.

    The 49ers may need to win more games with their defense in 2022 in case the offense takes some time to develop under Lance.

    An additional interior defensive lineman could help San Francisco play in low-scoring games and win ugly as the second-year quarterback adjusts to the starting role.

Xavier Rhodes

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    Xavier Rhodes is one year removed from having a 51.9 completion percentage against him.

    The former Minnesota and Indianapolis cornerback could be worth a look to bolster San Francisco's depth at the position.

    The 49ers signed Charvarius Ward in the offseason as their big defensive free agent, but the position could still be seen as their biggest defensive weakness because of the lack of star power.

    Emmanuel Moseley, Darqueze Dennard and others will be asked to fill in the spots behind Ward on the depth chart, but the team could use one more veteran player to feel safe about its secondary in a division with so many talented wide receivers.

    Rhodes' age is his downside. At 32, he may not find many suitors before training camp, and younger options, such as Kevin King, Pierre Desir and Desmond Trufant, may be considered by teams before him.

    The three-time Pro Bowler had 19 passes defended in two seasons with the Colts. He allowed a 60.7 completion percentage last season after his 51.9 percent total in 2019.

    Rhodes could be a solid addition to the 49ers' pass coverage, and the signing may pay off for a team that needs its secondary to play well against the likes of Cooper Kupp, DK Metcalf and DeAndre Hopkins in eight games.

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