San Francisco 49ers: 5 Best Decisions the Team Made This Offseason
By Peter Panacy
No. 3: Not Spending Big in 2016 Free Agency
San Francisco’s biggest free-agent acquisition this offseason? None other than offensive guard Zane Beadles.
Not exactly the splashiest of signings.
And this was coming from a team laden with roster holes and armed with one of the greatest amounts of cap space entering 2016.
Right now, according to Over the Cap, the 49ers have a total of $48,952,259 in cap space. That number is tops for every team in the NFL, and the Niners could have used a good portion of that to shore up more than a few positions of need.
But general manager Trent Baalke didn’t exactly go that route.
Baalke isn’t a typical free-agency-or-bust GM anyway. Just take a look at what he said about big-name free-agent signings, courtesy of Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area:
"As you know, we’ve never been huge believers in the opening market of free agency because, let’s face it, no matter who you take in the opening market, you’re overpaying them. History proves that. Ninety-plus percent of the guys that enter free agency have never made a Pro Bowl. Ninety-plus percent of the ones that get signed as free agents never make the Pro Bowl. So you have a less-than 10-percent chance of hitting on a Pro Bowl-caliber player, yet you’re paying him at the top of the market. It’s like buying a stock at its high."
This theory isn’t Baalke’s alone.
Check out what Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News had to say about free agency:
"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."
The 49ers didn’t do anything on day one of free agency. And Baalke didn’t do much thereafter. But in a relatively weak free-agency class, at least from a general consensus, more than a few players are going to be overpaid and wind up playing nowhere close to expectation levels.
Here’s a thought — the 2017 free-agent class looks to be much, much better than this year’s.
Being able to carry over the majority of unspent cap, and having a clearer picture of what the team’s needs will be, the 49ers can easily choose to be more aggressive a little less than a year from now.
And, in all likelihood, with better results.
Next: No. 2: Not Trading Colin Kaepernick