San Francisco 49ers: Ranking the 10 worst free-agent signings in franchise history

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OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 20: Antonio Bryant #81 of the San Francisco 49ers catches a pass over Nnamdi Asomugha #21 of the Oakland Raiders during a pre-season NFL game at McAfee Coliseum August 20, 2006 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers have brought aboard a number of great free agents over the years, but they’ve also landed some true busts. Here are the 10 worst in franchise history.

Ever since the NFL introduced the modern system of free agency back in 1993, the San Francisco 49ers have managed to sign more than a number of quality free agents. One of the best was now-retired defensive end Justin Smith, whom the Niners grabbed back in 2008, and he ended up changing the franchise in the early 2010s.

Yet for the large number of good pickups in NFL free agency San Francisco has gotten, there have been more than a few busts, too.

Not long ago, the 49ers inked journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer with the hopes of him becoming an actual starting-caliber guy under center. But he flamed out quickly in his 2017 campaign — the only one in San Francisco — and found himself en route to the scrap heap after the Niners traded for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo later that year.

Picking up Hoyer did make some sense at the time, however. The Niners were undergoing only the initial stages of what was a complete rebuild. Hower wasn’t going to ever be a long-term option, rather his tenure just ended much sooner than the team hoped.

But what about the others? Which players the 49ers brought aboard in NFL free agency ended up being total busts?

To determine the 10 worst, Niner Noise established the following criteria:

  1. Calculating the expected role each free agent was supposed to have.
  2. Contract numbers.
  3. Overall stats and impact (or lack thereof).

These three pieces of evaluation, plus any additional as-mentioned data, will be used to determine how the rankings pan out.

Let’s kick it off with one of San Francisco’s more recent additions, linebacker Malcolm Smith.

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