Grading the San Francisco 49ers Offseason so Far
By Peter Panacy
While the 49ers made strides to retain some of their own talent in 2016, Baalke made few efforts to land top-tier players on the free-agent market.
As of March 14, the Niners have a total of $58,843,242 in cap space — now the highest out of all 32 teams.
Despite Baalke’s notion of building via the draft and only supplementing the roster through free agency, one might have expected San Francisco to be a little more aggressive on the free-agent market.
So far, the team’s efforts have landed former CFL wide receiver Eric Rogers and backup quarterback Thad Lewis.
Yet there are two arguments behind the lack of action on Baalke’s part. On one hand, the 49ers had the luxury to be aggressive and “overpay” on some free-agent deals. And it isn’t as if San Francisco is short of needs across the board.
But, as Rick Gosselin of Dallasnews.com noted, teams who spend big in free agency often end up regretting such moves later:
"Here’s Rule No. 1 in NFL free agency — never sign a player on the opening day. That’s when the crazy money is spent, the crazy contracts signed. The fans may love it, viewing every dollar spent as a sign of a commitment to winning by their team. But, oh, the mistakes that are made. Many of these new millionaires become salary-cap hits waiting to happen. … Wait a day. There will still be players available in free agency and they’ll be more affordable. They may not be impact players — but so few of the opening-day signees have delivered any impact. You find impact players in the draft. You find patches in free agency. Don’t overpay for them."
Baalke’s approach initially mirrored this thought. And then some.
Still, the 49ers’ inaction on the free-agent front has to be a little troubling. The ideal mark would likely have been for Baalke to land some mid-level free agents on Days 2 through 4 of free agency and not have to worry about the lucrative, overly expensive deals seen this offseason.
But that hasn’t happened.
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