The San Francisco 49ers have a lot to attend to this offseason.
The defending NFC champions established themselves as a Super Bowl contender in 2019. The decisions they make this offseason will determine whether they can contend again.
This offseason figures to drastically shake the landscape of the league. With more proven commodities at quarterback on the market than ever before and a new collective bargaining agreement in place, there could be a seismic shift in the league.
The Niners don't figure to be a huge player in free agency. They have just $16.3 million in cap space, per Spotrac, which means even keeping their talent will need to take precedent over making any flashing signings on the open market.
Out of the Tom Brady Sweepstakes; Committed to Jimmy Garoppolo
According to Simms, the Niners were Brady's "No. 1 choice," but the San Francisco brass stood by Garoppolo and have chosen to move forward with him as their quarterback.
That should be good news for the 49ers. Garoppolo might not have taken the league by storm this season and the Niners definitely leaned on the run game in critical moments this season, but it was the 28-year-old's first full season as a starter.
There's still room for the Patriots' 2014 second-round pick to develop and become comfortable with Kyle Shanahan and the offense.
Throwing all that away to chase after one more run with Brady, who may or may not be shot, wouldn't have been a wise long-term move.
Team Making 'Significant Headway' with Arik Armstead
Among the big names set to hit free agency for the 49ers is defensive lineman Arik Armstead. The former first-round draft pick is an interesting case study in value.
In the "pros" column is the fact that Armstead is only 26 years old, meaning a multiyear extension wouldn't even have to go into his 30s. He's also provided production as a pass-rusher, which is a premium skill-set.
Armstead's "cons" have to do with spotty production until his contract year. Armstead's 10 sacks this season are more than he accrued through his first four seasons. That can be a red flag. Combine that with the 2015 first-rounder out of Oregon missing most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons with injury, and the figure that the two parties come up with will be interesting.
The negotiations appear to be going well between the two. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported the two are making "significant headway" and could reach a deal without using the franchise tag.
All of the question marks, his work ethic, injury history and questionable production are best answered by the team he's been with for five years. No one knows Armstead better than the Niners. So if they feel comfortable with the deal, it's probably a good one for them.
If the Niners allow the California native to walk, it would be difficult to recoup his production with someone else on the market or in free agency.
Wanted: A 2nd Tight End to Help George Kittle
George Kittle has established himself as one of the league's premier tight ends. That doesn't mean the Niners won't be in the market for a second tight end, though.
Matt Barrows of The Athletic reported that the Niners would like to upgrade the tight end position "to take some pressure off of George Kittle, who is due for a big payday this offseason."
The team doesn't have much cap space so this might seem counterintuitive, but spending some money on another tight end would be a wise move.
Kittle might be the Niners' most important player on offense. His abilities as a blocker and matchup nightmare give the team a schematic advantage that few players can. The 2015 fifth-rounder out of Iowa led the team with 107 targets last season; the next highest tight end on the roster was Ross Dwelley with 22.
Finding a bargain who could give Kittle some reprieve as the team's only receiving threat at the position could be good for his long-term health and production.