The San Francisco 49ers had an extremely active opening day of free agency, something that does not usually occur. What is typical of this organization, however, is that they have actually been quite inactive when it comes to free agency.
The 49ers have only brought in one player thus far via free agency, safety Antoine Bethea, who replaced the recently-departed Donte Whitner. Other than this, the 49ers re-signed their own players (Eric Wright and Phil Dawson) and executed a couple of low-risk trades for offensive line depth and a backup quarterback. These types of trades have not been uncommon in the Jim Harbaugh-Trent Baalke era. The best example of this sort of trade is the sixth-rounder for Anquan Boldin last offseason. The 49ers picked up Colt McCoy on a similar deal as well. The 49ers’ front office loves taking flyers on players, from Jonathan Martin and Blaine Gabbert, picked up Tuesday, to Lawrence Okoye, the British Olympian hoping to make the roster this season. With the large number of draft choices the 49ers almost always seem to have, it makes a lot more sense to bring in a couple of low-cost veterans who can compete for a roster spots as well as the rookies.
With free agency often being fool’s gold, the 49ers are wise to stay out of it for the most part. Just because they make headlines during this period does not mean their philosophy has changed or they are being huge players in free agency. They just are doing what they always do.