2021 Niners – Worst to First !!!

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After the Free Agency dust settled, the Niners accomplished the impossible and re-signed all of their key Free Agents. And, they signed key players from other teams in positions of need… Center Alex Mack from the Falcons and Edge Rusher Samson Ekuban from the Rams. Recalling Shanahan’s quote after the last game of last season, “I’m glad that the season is over… I just want all my players back next year!!!”. Mission accomplished !!! The Niners will go from worst to first this season and will certainly be in the hunt for the Lombardi.

And to top things off, they made a monster trade with the Dolphins to move up to the 3rd overall pick in this year’s draft. They have found their back-up QB for 2021 and their franchise QB going forward beginning 2022. The price they paid was high but not exorbitant.  They gave up only their 1st round pick this year and kept the rest of their 9 remaining picks to bring in new young blood. They also gave up their 1st and 3rd round picks in 2022 and a 1st round pick in 2023. As the Niners will be a top tier team, their future picks will surely be at the back end of the draft, so no big deal.

Re-capping the Free Agent re-signings and reviewing my MUST KEEP players in my 12/27/2020 blog, here is how things worked out:

Must Keep…

Trent Williams (LT) – $138.06 million over 6 years. The remarkable thing about this contract is that it is actually 2 separate deals, each of 3 year duration. The Niners can get out of the overall contract after 3 years. This is huge!!! Despite Patrick Mahomes’ best effort to recruit Trent to KC, the Niners got the job done to keep the best LT in the NFL for the rest of his career.

Kyle Juszczyk (FB) – $27 million over 5 years. The best FB in the business.

K’Waun Williams (CB) – $2.24 million for 1 year. Great value for a key piece to the Niner Defensive Backfield.

Ronald Blair (DE) – Blair was released most likely due to his severe knee injury. I was wrong in my prediction as a must keep player.

Ben Garland (C) – Garland was released as the Niners signed All-Pro Center Alex Mack, a Free Agent from the Falcons who played under Shanahan when he was the OC at Atlanta.

Kerry Hyder (DE) – Hyder signed with the Seahawks after the Niners signed Samson Ekuban, a rising Edge Rushing star from the Rams who couldn’t afford to keep him due to their salary cap situation.

Jason Verrett (CB) – $5.5 million for 1 year. Another great value as he is playing at an All Pro level. If he does become an All Pro, he makes another $1 million. Both Verrett and K’Waun are playing for a bigger pay day next year as it is assumed the salary cap will go up.

Ross Dwelley (TE) – $1 million for 1 year. Another great value as he has played very well as Kittle’s backup.

Taybor Pepper (LS) – $2 million over 2 years. Consistent Long Snappers are actually hard to find so they re-signed Pepper.

Jeff Wilson (RB) – $2.1 million for 1 year. A definite keeper as he has earned a hefty salary bump. I still recall when the Niners signed both Wilson and Dwelley as undrafted players 3 years ago. So happy that both of them have worked out.

Josh Rosen (QB) – $850 thousand for 1 year. After the Niners draft their future franchise QB, Rosen will become their 3rd string QB and could very easily be replaced.

Emmanuel Mosely (CB) – $10 million over 2 years. A wise decision to all but assure that E-Man will be the starting CB opposite Verrett.

Daniel Brunskill (T) – $850 thousand. A great re-signing as Brunskill is a very versatile player who can play T, G, or C.

D. J. Jones (DL) – $3.47 million for 1 year. A great re-signing as he is a stout nose tackle that frees up Bosa and Ekuban to get to the QB.

Marcel Harris (S) – $1 million for 1 year. Marcell is young and has plenty of room to grow.

Kevin Givens (DL) – $780 thousand for 1 year. He is a solid rotational player but is facing an assault charge in Baltimore so his future is cloudy at best.

Other Free Agents that the Niners re-signed that were pleasant surprises:

Jordan Willis (DE) – $1 million for 1 year. D-Line coach Kris Kocurek is the best in the business and sniffs out valuable players. He likes Willis.

Jaquiski Tartt (FS) – $1 million for 1 year. With Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris being both younger and having lower salaries, Tartt accepted a lower contract to stay with the team.

Robbie Gould (K) – $2.75 million over 2 years. Great for both sides, Robbie accepted a cap friendly contract and will continue to be “Good as Gould”.

How were the Niners able to find the funds to re-sign all of the key players and remain under the cap? Two major contract re-structures were a main reason.

  • Dee Ford (DE) – Restructured his contract to $24 million over 2 years saving $9.45 million in 2021.
  • Weston Richburg (C) – Restructured his contract to save $6.88 million in 2021. Richburg will most likely retire.

Onto the question of which QB will be selected by the Niners with the #3 pick in this year’s draft…

It is all but guaranteed that the Jags will select Trevor Lawrence with the #1 pick. The big question is what will the Jets do with their #2 pick…. They can stick with Sam Darnold as their QB and draft the best LT in the draft. If they do that, the Niners will have the pick of the rest of the best (Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones). The Jets can also stay at #2 and select one of the these QB’s, most likely Zack Wilson. Or, the Jets can trade down. The team that trades up will draft a QB. Regardless, the Niners are assured of getting one of the top 3 QB’s on the board. If Shanahan is dead set on one of these QB’s, the Niners can try to move up from #3 to #2 if the Jets are willing to bite. There isn’t much separating Wilson and Fields and Lance. Thus, I would be thrilled to have any of the three. Although some experts like Mac Jones as a Niner fit, my view of Jones is that he is a lot like Garoppolo. So why would they move all the way up to #3 to draft another Jimmy G.? They could of in all probability stay put and be able to draft Mac Jones at the #12 pick. Just recall that Shanahan did say that he is open to coaching a mobile QB. He has been facing Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson twice a year and lost to Mahomes in the SB. I’m sure that adding another dimension to his QB scheme is appealing to him.

Niner Faithfuls have every right to be excited to see their team in the coming years. Should be filled with a lot of excitement!!!

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