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49ers top five impending free agents that need to be re-signed (and those who don’t)

Marc Adams
Dec 10, 2021 at 10:15 AM

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The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of unrestricted free agents (UFAs). Currently, there are 22 of them. These are players who, after the 2021 season, will be free to sign wherever they choose, when the NFL's new year begins in March 2022.

Matt Maiocco, of NBC Sports Bay Area, listed the 49ers top UFAs as: D.J. Jones, Laken Tomlinson, K'Waun Williams, Jaquiski Tartt, Raheem Mostert and Jason Verrett.

While I may not agree with the players Maiocco listed in his top six, or the order, the ones he listed are probably high on the 49ers list to bring back. So who are the top UFAs that the team needs to re-sign? And who are the next tier of players? Which ones can the 49ers afford to let walk? Let's break this down.

Top five UFAs that need to be re-signed

  1. Laken Tomlinson - Maiocco picked Jones as his top UFA, but I'm going with Tomlinson. If Trey Lance is the starting quarterback next season, he will need a strong offensive line. And considering how the right side of the line is a perennial mess, Tomlinson will be counted on to help keep the right side strong, along with starting left tackle Trent Williams. Tomlinson is really good, and he's consistent. Just what a young quarterback needs.
  2. D.J. Jones - I'm putting Jones in the second spot, instead of the third spot, solely based on the 49ers Front Office strategy of building a dominant defensive line. Jones has earned whatever he gets paid. He has started all 12 games for the 49ers this season, and has a career-best 42 tackles, including seven for losses, to go along with two forced fumbles. Jones also has a rare combination of power and athleticism that makes him a great anchor for this defensive line.
  3. K'Waun Williams - Williams is one of the league's best nickel corners. And since defenses are in nickel more than base these days, Williams is on the field early and often. He is, in essence, a starter on the defense. And he's really good. If it wasn't for the front office mindset, I would have put Williams in the number two spot, because I think he's that valuable.
  4. Raheem Mostert - I know he gets hurt a lot. But when he's healthy, Mostert is a threat to score from anywhere. The 49ers run game has missed his speed this season. I don't believe he will be back in Santa Clara, but I think the 49ers will try to re-sign him to a team-friendly deal. I hope he returns. You can't replace that kind of speed.
  5. Jason Verrett - I can hear you screaming at me now. Two oft-injured players in a row. Yes! Both are all-pro talents when healthy. Verrett is a true number one corner when he's playing. He has missed a lot of games, though. I think the 49ers did the right thing in bringing him back for 2021. The mistake they made is not having a quality corner to replace him when he was injured. I think Verrett should be re-signed again, but I think the team should be better prepared this time...just in case.

The next tier of UFAs that would be nice to re-sign

  1. Jeff Wilson - Wilson has missed most of this season, though we may see him start on Sunday, if Elijah Mitchell is unable to play. When Wilson has been healthy and had his shots, he's been very effective. I'd like to see him return, especially if Mostert does not.
  2. Maurice Hurst - Hurst was supposed make an impact on this defensive line this season, but injuries have derailed that. I hope they bring him back so we can actually see what we hoped would happen this season.
  3. Jaquiski Tartt - Tartt is listed here because of his experience and knowledge of the defense. I'm not sure the 49ers will want to bring him back. I'm not sure I want them to bring him back. He misses too many games, but doesn't really have the upside some of the other injured players have.
  4. Arden Key - Key has shown flashes at times this season. I wouldn't mind seeing them bring him back to see if he can continue to improve.
  5. Kentavius Street - Street is a strong dude who (for whatever reason) just hasn't reached his potential. If he does, he will be a wrecking ball out there. I'd prefer that happen with the 49ers.
  6. Trent Sherfield - Sherfield is a great special-teams player, and also a favorite target of Lance. I'd like to see him return.
  7. Tarvarius Moore - I still see some potential in Moore. Had he not been injured this season, we may have been able to see his progression. Bring him back and let's see what he can do.

The UFA that can be allowed to sign elsewhere

  1. Josh Norman - Norman is terrible in coverage, but great at forcing fumbles. I pray the 49ers have better options at cornerback next season.
  2. Richie James- I almost put James in the previous group. But, I seem to believe in him more than the 49ers coaches do.
  3. Jordan Willis - Willis makes me yawn!
  4. Dontae Johnson - Johnson, a member of the 49ers secondary and AARP, won't be re-signed. No one else will sign him. And then in 2022, an injury will occur that will force the 49ers to bring him back. We can't escape Dontae Johnson.
  5. Ross Dwelley - Surely the 49ers can find a better option at third-string tight end. That said, it wouldn't surprise me if they bring him back.
  6. Marcell Harris - The player with no position needs to move on.
  7. Mohamed Sanu - Jauan Jennings is younger and now better than Sanu.
  8. Tom Compton - Compton is terrible. I hope we never see him in a 49ers uniform again, unless he's the new Sourdough Sam.
  9. Tavon Wilson - I'm not entirely sure who this is.
  10. Trenton Cannon - He won't be back, but I'm glad he's ok after that scary injury last Sunday.

That's a lot of UFA. It should make for an exciting spring. And depending on what the 49ers do with Jimmy Garoppolo, the team may have a lot of money to spend. Of course, they also have two large extensions looming- Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel.

Where do you disagree? Comment below or find me on Twitter @49ersCamelot!
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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