Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports


Under-the-Radar Free Agent Options for the 49ers

Matthew Barr
Jan 21, 2019 at 4:14 PM


By now, 49ers' fans are well versed in the big names that will be hitting the free agent market this offseason. Earl Thomas, Demarcus Lawrence, Brandon Graham and LeVeon Bell are players who will command a large following from potential suitors. While only a few names will create hype and sell jerseys in the offseason, many more teams really make their money by bringing in players who fill key roles without breaking the bank. Here is a look at some smaller name free agents the 49ers could look to bring in.

OLB Preston Smith, Washington Redskins


The 49ers biggest weakness on the team is EDGE defender. They were unable to generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks which lead to a young secondary getting picked apart from time to time. Preston Smith, despite a career-low four sacks, was a solid player for the Washington Redskins in 2018. Overall, he ranked as the 19th best all-around EDGE defender per Pro Football Focus and at 6'5" and 265 lbs, he possesses the size to play the LEO position in Robert Saleh's defense. The Redskins finished 2018 as a dumpster fire and many players could be looking to get out sooner, rather than later. Smith will enter the 2019 season at just 26 years old and could be a long-term building block for the 49ers.

OLB Shaquil Barrett, Denver Broncos


Malcolm Smith was one of the first free agents that John Lynch brought aboard following his hiring in 2017 and Smith has been a disappointment at the SAM linebacker position. Shaquil Barrett is another young outside linebacker who would be able to find a home in the San Francisco defense at a position of need. Barrett was able to create six tackles for loss in run defense over the course of 2018 while playing a rotational role behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Barrett did miss three games with a hip flexor injury but that could play to the 49ers' advantage. He could be a discount signing twho is able to transform the SAM position.

WR Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers


It is reasonable to assume that the 49ers will move on from Pierre Garçon before the start of training camp. This leaves a wide receiving corps a little barren. With a height of 6'4", Tyrell Williams would be far and away the tallest receiver on the roster. Williams was inconsistent for the Chargers this past season but fits the profile of what Kyle Shanahan wants in a wide receiver. He is exceptionally fast for his size and showed that off at the draft combine when he ran a 4.43 second 40-yard dash in 2015. Williams averaged 15.9 yards per catch and would provide a good red zone target for QB Jimmy Garoppolo next season.

G Mark Glowinski, Indianapolis Colts


Of all the position groups, the 49ers offensive line exceeded expectations the most. However, current starting right guard Mike Person is a free agent and will be 31 when the new season rolls around. Glowinski is four years younger and was one of the premiere run-blocking guards in the league last year. He helped QB Andrew Luck bounce back from injury to help the Colts to the playoffs. Glowinski does not have a huge sample size with only nine starts in 2018 and as such will not warrant the interest other offensive lineman will in free agency.

TE Maxx Williams, Baltimore Ravens


When the Baltimore Ravens drafted tight ends in both the first and third rounds of the 2018 draft, the writing was on the wall for Maxx Williams. He was forced down the depth chart and it was clear that the Ravens were ready to move on. Williams, who will turn 25 in April, has been a solid all-around tight end, ranking as the 16th best graded tight end in the league last season. The 49ers have a need opposite of All-Pro TE George Kittle. TE Garrett Celek is getting up there in age and the 49ers could stand for an improved number two, especially given how frequently Kyle Shanahan has two tight ends on the field at once. "Celek Time" was fun but that may be coming to an end.

ILB Cory Littleton, Los Angeles Rams


Reuben Foster's departure left a vacancy in the middle of Robert Saleh's defense. Rookie LB Fred Warner exceeded expectations proving to be a true sideline-to-sideline presence in both the run game and coverage. Cory Littleton was an integral part of the success of both the Rams' defense and special teams. Littleton was an elite coverage linebacker with three interceptions, 13 passes defensed and he returned a Nick Mullens interception for a touchdown. He would pair nicely alongside Warner, especially during sub packages in an ever-increasingly passing league.
  • Matthew Barr
  • Written by:
    Matthew Barr has been writing for 49ers Webzone and 49ers Hub since 2018 and co-hosts the 4th and Gold podcast which can be found on all podcast platforms. He can be found on Twitter fighting an endless battle to get the underscore removed from his handle, @MattBarr_.
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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