Arizona Cardinals Jerseys Turn on the NFL Network or click on Pro Football Talk and the San Francisco 49ers are dominating the headlines in free agency like they never have before.
The team has reportedly agreed to terms with Brian Hoyer, Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Kyle Juszczyk, Logan Paulsen and Malcolm Smith. At the time of this posting, the team is being linked to high-flying tight end Martellus Bennett.
When you first glance at this list of names, you’d think a pair of first-timers had fallen for the NFL’s forbidden fruit: free agency.
But what John Lynch and Cheap nfl Jerseys Kyle Shanahan are doing is not splurging. They are replenishing an eroded roster handed to them by former GM Trent Baalke.
Outside of Garcon, there is no real star power in the free agents the 49ers are set to officially add on Thursday. To get their operation up and running, the new regime was looking for proven, quality football players on smart money — and not taking chances on expensive players with upside. Nearly all of these contracts are front-loaded so as the team evolves into a stronger beast, moving on from players won’t be as difficult. This roster is Shanahan’s starter pack and some of these pieces could end up here for the long haul.
Charlie Casserly pointed this out on the NFL Network: It’s clear Shanahan came into this with a plan for free agency. The 49ers were aggressive from the minute they could contact agents. Instead of haggling back and forth for days on compensation and letting someone like Garcon visit the Rams, the 49ers got deals done rapidly. Shanahan had a list of players in mind and the 49ers pounced.
The pitch? Who wouldn’t want a chance to play — or reunite — under an offensive wizard? You’ll hear Shanahan say it takes all 11 men in football and he’s proven that the smallest role players can matter in the biggest moment of a game. Hoyer is the cerebral bridge quarterback who also provides stability as a backup when that rookie is ready. Goodwin is the deep threat who’ll take the top off a defense. Juszczyk will be the swiss army knife in the passing game to expose linebackers in space. Logan Paulsen is animal as a run blocker and actually a solid red-zone target.
Garcon is different. He’ll be the reliable workhorse on offense and the one challenged with beating Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman four times every year. While DeSean Jackson was wracking up the highlights on the NFL RedZone channel, Garcon was often the one doing the heavy lifting on drives down the field with Kirk Cousins. He can win over the middle, has reliable hands and consistent production. Garcon is the one player San Francisco signed with pressure on him to deliver right away. The fact that he fielded no other meetings lets you know he’s placed his trust in Shanahan.
This radical change of approach to free agency was necessary. A 49ers team spokesman reiterated to me last year Baalke really did try using free agency in 2016, but the former GM was rebuffed in his attempts of pursuing players. Baalke refused to pay top flight money for B-level free agents — and now Lynch and Shanahan are reaping the rewards of the savings. If the 49ers spent like this last offseason, Chip Kelly might still be here.
In retrospect, Baalke was never trying to build a football team. He was collecting talented, athletic players in hopes the coaches would develop them. There’s no need to keep reliving the past, but the stark contrast from Shanahan and Lynch of targeting specific role players is a refreshing approach. This football team is going to be not only watchable next season, there will be some damn exiting games, and likely a few upsets. Don’t get overly excited, but these moves are the small step that will help the 49ers return to relevancy.
It’s not surprising Cheap jersey wholesale Shanahan and Robert Saleh went with some players they’re familiar with. The most important thing that happens in Year 1 of a regime is unilateral buy-in — from the players, coaches and front office. John Lynch is not kidding when he says everyone’s gotta be rowing the boat in the same direction. The most effective way to insure that buy-in happens is to bring in players you know. The players Shanahan has brought won’t mail it in now that they’ve cashed their check. These are football players who love the sport, players who will police the locker room.
This is just the first wave of free agency, too. Bargain deals will be had on the back end. I’m told the team has interest in wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. He and Hoyer had tremendous chemistry together with the intermediate passing game in Cleveland. The 49ers still want to draft and develop at least two young receivers, but they might as well set Hoyer up for success by giving him a weapon he’s comfortable with. Hawkins did tell 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland his agent has been in contact with 8-10 other teams.
In summary: People want to play in Santa Clara, Shanahan and Lynch have a thought-out direction for this season and games at Levi’s Stadium will be watchable.