Tier 3 Free Agents for 49ers
Everyone loves the big-name free agents, but they’re not always the best transactions. On the flip side, less-known signings can be even more vital. Case in point, for the 49ers back in 2013, the team signed perennial special teams ace, linebacker Dan Skuta, and he ended up being a quality piece for the Niners defense for two years.
Let’s think along those lines for our Tier 3 mocked free agents to San Francisco.
Safety Tre Boston, Arizona Cardinals
You’ve probably heard it for a while here on Niner Noise, but 26-year-old safety Tre Boston would be an excellent depth addition for the 49ers backfield with the upside of being a potential starter at free safety.
San Francisco 49ers
Boston has bounced around the league the past few years after being drafted by the Carolina Panthers back in 2014. He spent last season with the Niners’ division rivals, the Arizona Cardinals, where he managed three interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Considering San Francisco went through seven different safeties in 2018, adding Boston would at least give the defense some experienced depth — something sorely lacking last year.
Projected contract: Two years, $3.5 million
Defensive Back Neiko Thorpe, Seattle Seahawks
The 49ers and Seattle Seahawks run nearly an identical Cover 3 zone defense, which calls for big-bodied and lanky boundary corners to patrol the perimeter. Outside of veteran corner Richard Sherman, the Niners struggled in this area with both consistency and health.
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, defensive back Neiko Thorpe hasn’t been used a lot on defense, instead spending more time on Seattle’s special teams unit. But that has value, as does his familiarity with this Cover 3 scheme.
Projected contract: Two years, $3.25 million
Tight End Levine Toilolo, Detroit Lions
Tight ends are of exceptional value in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which makes Detroit Lions TE Levine Toilolo an interesting commodity. Sure, he’s never exceeded more than 270 reception yards in a season. But he’s an exceptional pass blocker, and the Niners could use some help here in two-tight end packages.
Plus, Toilolo enjoyed playing under Shanahan when both were with the Atlanta Falcons back in 2015 and 2016. So the former knows the offense already.
Projected contract: One year, $1.75 million
Linebacker Kevin Minter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It would be smart for the 49ers to steer clear of any Tampa Bay Buccaneers defenders heading into 2019. Their defense was arguably worse than that of San Francisco.
That said, some veteran prowess at linebacker would help. Aside from Fred Warner, the Niners don’t exactly have any shoo-in starters within this group. Minter is no longer the starting-caliber player he was back with the Cardinals some years ago. And injuries have derailed his past two seasons.
That said, the 28-year-old Minter should come cheap and provide adequate backup duties for a position lacking depth.
Just don’t put him in coverage. He’s far better against the run.
Projected contract: One year, $1.25 million
2019 projected cap hit from Tier 3 players: $6.375 million