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Top San Francisco 49ers’ pending free agents in 2021

If the San Francisco 49ers are going to keep their Super Bowl window open, they will have to make some tough decisions in the 2021 NFL free agency period. With 37 players who will be free agents in 2021, the 49ers could lose several critical veterans this offseason. 

2020 was a lost season for the San Francisco 49ers

While it’s hard to remember back due to all that happened in 2020, but the 49ers are just one year removed from being tied with the Kansas City Chiefs at halftime of the Super Bowl. Flash forward one year, and they have the 12th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. You are hard-pressed to find a team who had worse luck than the 49ers last season. 

Playing the season during the extenuating circumstances had challenges for any team in the NFL. The lack of offseason workouts and minicamps had added to the strain on the 49ers. Deebo Samuel had a Jones fracture. Brandon Aiyuk and Jalen Hurd got hurt early on. Then, Week 2 hit. Already without Dee Ford, DE Nick Bosa tore his ACL. Jimmy Garoppolo, RBs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, and DL Solomon Thomas also got hurt against the Jets. 

We haven’t even talked about George Kittle’s injuries and the team being ravaged by the illness affecting so many people globally. Heck, they didn’t even get to play games at home; instead, played as the “home team” in Glendale, AZ.

Related | 2021 NFL Free Agents: Top available at each position

This is still a talented team in San Francisco. However, so is the rest of their division. There is a legitimate argument that the 49ers are the fourth-best team in the NFC West. That says just as much about the division as it does the 49ers. 

Whether or not the 49ers can get back into the upper echelon of this division remains to be seen. If they end up doing it, the moves that John Lynch and the 49ers make this free agency period will be why.

How much cap space do the 49ers have to work with in 2021?

According to Over the Cap, the San Francisco 49ers come into the 2021 free agency period with a projected $9.54 million in salary cap space.

By playing most of the games without fans last year, the revenue took a massive hit due to no money coming in the gates every Sunday. Current estimations have the salary cap at $176 million. Down $22.2 million from the previous season. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a salary cap floor of $175 million.

What will the 49ers do with Trent Williams, who is a free agent in 2021?

Offensive tackle Trent Williams is a player head coach Kyle Shanahan has discussed wanting to keep around. And why wouldn’t he? By far, Williams was the most reliable of the 49ers’ players on the patchwork offensive line, earning himself yet another Pro Bowl. 

The problem — Williams is likely going to reset the market in free agency. The left tackle position is one of the most important in the game, and he is one of the best at it. According to Spotrac, Williams enters free agency with an estimated $18.2 million market value on a three-year, $54.78 million contract. 

San Francisco knew this was coming when they traded a 2020 fifth-round selection and a 2021 third-round choice to Washington for Williams during the 2020 NFL Draft. Williams only had one-year left on his contract, and he chose to play it out rather than trying to get an extension done before the year.

The 49ers can’t afford to lose FB Kyle Juszczyk in free agency

The fullback is a dead position for 31 other teams and virtually every college team outside the service academies. Kyle Juszczyk is the last of a dying breed and is a vital part of the 49ers’ rushing success.

Related | 49ers Pre-Senior Bowl 7-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

He’s not a stereotypical fullback, a big guy who is a solid blocker, and that’s it. Juszczyk can be lined up all along the offensive formation. In the backfield, the slot, at tight end, or even out wide, all of which were part of his repertoire in 2020. He went to the Pro Bowl from 2016 to 2020. There is a sizable difference in the 49ers’ rushing efficiency when he is on and off the field.

Kyle Juszczyk is the unsung hero of the 49ers’ offense and can’t be lost as a free agent. 

What will the 49ers do at cornerback in 2021?

The way things stand right now, the 49ers do not have a cornerback under contract for 2021. Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley could come back on cheaper deals. However, that is nowhere near good enough to keep up with a division that has arguably the best WR talent in the NFL. 

CB K’Waun Williams has turned into arguably their most versatile defender. He can cover his receiver, can come up in run support, forces turnovers, and is an effective blitzer. Williams did miss eight games last season, and there is a real chance he leaves in free agency. He could join former DC Rob Saleh, who is now head coach of the New York Jets, and return to his native New Jersey. 

Then, there is Richard Sherman. He just finished up a three-year, $39 million deal that he negotiated for himself as his own representation. Sherman has even said that while there is a mutual interest, the math might not add up for a return.

“We’ve had brief conversations,” Sherman said of contract talks with the 49ers. “I think that there’s obviously a want from both sides to come back and make this work. Unfortunately, I don’t know that the circumstances will allow it.”

Given the other issues, a falling cap, and a need to address the quarterback position’s future, Sherman could very well be correct and leave the 49ers as a free agent in 2021.

San Francisco 49ers’ 2021 offensive free agents

QB C.J. Beathard, 28
C Tony Bergstrom, 35
WR Kendrick Bourne, 26
T Daniel Brunskill, 27
RB Tevin Coleman, 28
G Tom Compton, 32
WR River Cracraft, 27
TE Ross Dwelly, 26
C Ben Garland, 33
C Hroniss Grasu, 30
FB Kyle Juszczyk 30
RB Jerick McKinnon, 29
QB Nick Mullens, 26
TE Jordan Reed, 31
QB Josh Rosen, 24
WR Trent Taylor, 27
RB Austin Walter, 25
T Trent Williams, 32

San Francisco 49ers’  2021 defensive and special teams free agents

DE Ezekiel Ansah, 32
DE Ronald Blair, 28
S Marcell Harris, 27
DE Kerry Hyder, 30
CB Dontae Johnson, 30
DT D.J. Jones, 26
DE Dion Jordan, 31
CB Emmanuel Moseley, 25
LS Taybor Pepper, 27
CB Richard Sherman, 33
FS Jaquiski Tartt, 29
CB Jamar Taylor, 27
DE Solomon Thomas, 26
CB Jason Verrett, 30
LB Joe Walker, 29
CB Ken Webster, 25
CB K’Waun Williams, 30
DE Jordan Willis, 26
CB Ahkello Witherspoon, 26

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.

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