Free-Agent Contracts 49ers Must Consider Before Training Camp

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJuly 26, 2021

Free-Agent Contracts 49ers Must Consider Before Training Camp

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    On Wednesday, the San Francisco 49ers will open training camp in Santa Clara, Calif., and officially begin preparing for the 2021 season. Roster battles will begin and the team will start evaluating players before cuts take place throughout the preseason.

    However, it's possible the 49ers aren't done adding to their roster. There are still some talented players available on the free-agent market, and while San Francisco doesn't have as much financial flexibility as it did earlier in the offseason, it could still make a signing or two if it wants.

    The 49ers didn't have many huge free-agent additions this offseason. And if they bring in any other players, it's likely to be more of the same as they'd probably sign low-cost depth players.

    Here's a look at several free agents who are still available and should be considered by San Francisco heading into training camp.

David DeCastro, OG

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    Kirk Irwin/Associated Press

    David DeCastro may come at a higher cost than some of the other top available free agents, and the 49ers may have to clear some cap space if they hope to land the guard. But they may want to consider doing that in order to boost their offensive line with a two-time All-Pro player.

    After playing his first nine NFL seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 31-year-old was released in June. There are also some concerns about his injured ankle, which he told Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette needs to be operated on for a third time. So that's something interested teams will need to monitor.

    But assuming DeCastro is healthy and available to play at some point during 2021, he could be a great fit at right guard for San Francisco. That would allow the 49ers to give rookie Aaron Banks a year to learn and develop before being thrust into a starting role.

    If San Francisco had Trent Williams, Alex Mack and a healthy DeCastro up front, the offensive line would be one of the clear strengths on that side of the ball.

    So, if the Stanford product recovers well and the 49ers can make it work, it's a move they should consider making this preseason.

Nickell Robey-Coleman, CB

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    Jennifer Stewart/Associated Press

    The 49ers' secondary may be a bit weaker than it was last season, and Richard Sherman might not be coming back. The veteran cornerback never signed with a team this offseason, but he's currently facing burglary domestic violence charges after beingΒ arrested earlier in July.

    That leaves San Francisco relying on corners such as Jason Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley and Dontae Johnson to likely play substantial snaps on defense. It's a group that could use a boost from one of the top available free agents still on the market.

    Nickell Robey-Coleman is still only 29, and he's a reliable presence in the secondary, having played at least 15 games in each of his first eight NFL seasons. Last year, he had 44 tackles in 15 games in his lone season with the Philadelphia Eagles. And while he hasn't recorded an interception since 2018, he's capable of impacting the game in other ways.

    While Robey-Coleman isn't a top-tier cornerback, he's an affordable option who would give the 49ers more depth and options to consider in the secondary. Verrett has missed time due to injuries in the past, and if he doesn't stay healthy, the USC product could fill that void.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    After playing 17 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, what if Larry Fitzgerald finished his career by joining one of his former NFC West rivals?

    Maybe it's not the most likely scenario, but it's one the 49ers should consider trying to make happen, as long as the experienced wide receiver decides he wants to play another year.

    Fitzgerald turns 38 on August 31 and isn't the same receiver he was early in his career. But he's still a valuable veteran presence who can contribute at times, considering he had 54 receptions for 409 yards and a touchdown in 13 games last year. In fact, he's still never played fewer than 13 games in a season.

    San Francisco has two clear top wide receivers in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. Beyond that, though, it has less reliable options. Mohamed Sanu is looking to have a bounce-back year, while Richie James, Jalen Hurd and Trent Sherfield are among others aiming to carve out a big role in the 49ers' offense.

    Not only could Fitzgerald put up some decent numbers, but he'd also be a valuable mentor to some of those youngsters. So, if he does decide to return for an 18th season, San Francisco should make a push for his services.

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