No. 3: Cornerback Nate Clements
Signed in 2007 to an eight-year, $80 million contract
OK, it’s time to dish out some cash and make that a substantial part of the 49ers’ worst NFL free agency moves.
Back in 2007, the Niners were still trying to get out of their own way after two disappointing campaigns under Mike Nolan. Signing free-agent cornerback Nate Clements, a productive one-time Pro Bowler with the Buffalo Bills, seemed like a good move at the time. But for eight years and at a whopping $80 million, which made him the highest-paid defensive player that year?
Not so much.
Clements seemed to live up to his hefty price tag his first year in San Francisco, registering four interceptions, 14 passes defended and three forced fumbles. In 2008, Clements regressed slightly but still managed to look the part of a solid cornerback. Yet there were those who may have thought it best to bump the then-29 year old back to safety.
It didn’t happen, however, and Clements ended 2009 with a shoulder injury after seven games played.
Clements bounced back a bit the following year, but his level of play never reached the contract numbers the 49ers had dished out. With that kind of money, San Francisco was hoping for a perennial Pro Bowler.
The team never got that kind of production, though, and Clements was out of a Niners uniform after only four years into his massive contract.